Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum {Lisle, IL}


This holiday season, The Morton Arboretum’s landscape will be transformed into an interactive kaleidoscope of color and light during its first-ever winter lights event, Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum. From November 22, 2013 to January 4, 2014, Illumination offers a holiday experience far beyond traditional twinkling lights, engaging the senses with dazzling projections, trees that respond to touch and sound, and vivid, electric colors throughout.

November 22, 2013 – January 4, 2014.  Tickets go on sale October 1, 2013, at

Illumination takes visitors on a mile-long, paved walking trail winding around the Arboretum’s Meadow Lake and down its Conifer Walk, to see a series of dazzling light experiences along the way. At this event you can:

  • View and interact with spectacular trees that are lit up like no others in the area
  • Hug a tree to make it grow brighter
  • Sing to a tree and watch it change color
  • Interact with light and color with a swipe of your hand

Built in partnership with top lighting designers Lightswitch, Illumination features energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly LED lighting technology. This lighting provides beautiful, powerful color while consuming only half the power of traditional incandescent lighting.

Illumination will feature a full slate of programming, including live music, wintertime food, and activities for families, couples and kids.  An updated schedule is available at

November 22 through January 4.  Doors open at 4:30 p.m., last entry at 8:30 p.m.
The event will be closed November 28 and December 2, 9, 16, 24 and 25.

  • Nonmember prices: $15/adults, $10/children 2-17 years old
  • Member prices: $10/adults, $5/children 2-17
  • The event is free for children under 2


More on The Illumination Experience

Visitors will begin their journey with a view across Meadow Lake, where projection technology turns a majestic tableau of 50-foot tall evergreens into a giant screen for a series of moving images that trick the eyes.

Walking along Meadow Lake, guests will find a space filled with Shadow Lanterns, gently moving in the wind, creating shimmering patterns of light and shadow on visitors and trees.

Moving on, visitors will walk through the Tinsel Colonnade, where bright strands of colorful light glimmer brightly from the branches like tinsel on the trees.

As visitors head up the Conifer Walk, they will encounter Harmony Trees, black walnut trees bathed from all sides with vivid, saturated light that makes them appear to shift and move. On closer inspection, guests will discover the lights are responding to the sound of their voices and they’re invited to sing and call out to the trees to make them glow brighter.

Moving on to the top of Frost Hill – one of the highest points at the Arboretum – visitors are immersed in an incandescent glow as they gaze at a series of Crystal Chandeliers, a series of crystal chandeliers suspended within a grove of trees. From there, guests can turn to enjoy the grand vista of the iconic Four Columns sculptures, which appear to gently rotate.

Next, it’s on to the Island of Light, a tree island on which visitors control the projection of color and brightness of lights.

Continuing down the Conifer Walk, visitors encounter the Personalitrees, two different experiences that let visitors create their own light show on a tableau of towering evergreens. In one, guests can move their hands over a sensor to conduct a 30-foot-high display of falling snowflakes, flower petals or leaves projected onto a grove of evergreens. The other allows guests of any age to look into a camera and see their own image, in a giant projection on the trees.

Simply hugging a tree can bring joy to anyone, but what if the tree responded? Hug A Tree invites guests to interact directly with nature by hugging a tree, with a twist. Each of the three huggable trees controls the lighting of the entire grove in a different way. The first tree controls brightness, the second changes the color and the third affects how quickly the light shifts from tree to tree.

Walking back toward Arbor Court, pencil beams of light shift horizontally and vertically, penetrating the night sky and outlining the geometry of the Hedge Garden.

Along the walking trail, guests will be able to rest and refresh at three concession areas, including a make-your-own s’mores station, and outdoor fire pits to help visitors warm up by the firelight. Special event nights will include musical groups, children’s activities and more. An updated calendar of events will be available at In addition, visitors can stop by the Enchanted Railroad, an intricate model train traveling through an indoor winter wonderland at the Visitor Center. In its 12thyear, the Enchanted Railroad is a popular holiday-themed display from the LGB Model Railroad Club.

WIN IT:  (1) US winner will receive 4 tickets to Morton Arboretum “Illumination”


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Speak Your Mind



  1. Brittney House says:

    I have never been to Morton Arboretum, but I would love to.

  2. I have never been to the Morton Aboretum but I always wanted to. I really wanted to go this fall but I’m just a bit too late for prime fall viewing, but I’d love to see the lights!

  3. Michelle Hill says:

    Have never seen but would love to

  4. We visit the Morton Arboretum regularly. It is one of the best attractions in Chicagoland!

  5. Tina Nilson says:

    It has been a couple of years since we’ve visited the Arboretum. If you’ve never been it is an amazing place year round to connect with nature and pull your kids away from the video games. Can’t wait to ring in the season and enjoy the new Illuminations!

  6. I have never been but have only heard good things! I used to live like 20 mins from there. I am now a little over an hour away but would love to take my daughter to see the lights 🙂

  7. nicole krutz says:

    i have not been there 🙁

  8. Suzanne Denys says:

    I have been to the Morton Arboretum before but never to the Illumination Tree Lights before.

  9. teresa null says:

    I have never been but sure would love to!!

  10. Kellie Conklin says:

    I’ve never been but we passed by there the other day and I just commented how I would like to go at some point! Hearing about this light spectacular is great, sounds like a peaceful and fun evening activity 🙂 Thanks!

  11. Samantha D. says:

    Of coarse, I live about 10 min from there. I love all the new improvements they’ve made there to attract nature lovers.

  12. I have never been there and have always wanted to check it out! My boys would love to see the lights! Thanks!

  13. We’ve been there a couple times. We take my grandmothers and mom every year for Mother’s Day. It’s an amazingly beautiful place.

  14. I have been once and this looks like it will be awesome!

  15. We visited there this summer and my sons loves the children’s garden!

  16. kim huster says:

    I’ve never been, but would love to go!

  17. Cynthia Cover says:

    Gosh I wish I lived there so I could see this absolutely beautiful site!

  18. We’ve never been there, and I know my son would love it!!

  19. kristin b says:

    I’ve never been!

  20. Laura Wirth says:

    I went there for company picnic, my kids loved it

  21. I have not! I would love to though.

  22. Love the arboretum; my boyfriend and I are members and go as often as possible.

  23. abedabun dawn says:

    Have I ever been to the ever been to the Morton Arboretum? No, I have not. But would love to.

  24. Mary Rios says:

    My son has autism and is nonverbal but very visual. He would really enjoy this experience!!

  25. Katie Roch says:

    I have never been to Morton Arboretum but next time I visit my family in Chicago I will definitely be making a visit.

  26. I have definitely been to the Arboretum! I actually used to work there. LOVE LOVE LOVE the Arboretum : )

  27. Kathy Vargas says:

    I haven’t been to the Morton Arboretum since I was a little kid (many years ago).

  28. I have been there, I believe. 🙂 It’s been a while.

  29. Great family tradition in the making!

  30. Betty Gick says:

    I’ve never been, but would love to go!

  31. I have never been to Morton Arboretum

  32. I have been to Morton Arboretum, but I didn’t know they had this Illumination thing. Looks awesome!

  33. Melissa Gonick says:

    I haven’t never been to the Arboretum. Thanks again for this opportunity

  34. Stephanie Vietmeier says:

    I have never been to Morton Arboretum but I have been wanting to take my family of 4 there!

  35. socratesjr says:

    My mother used to work nearby and when I visited from college we would go there. We still try to hit it at least once a year.

  36. melikegarfield says:

    I was there with my boyfriend who is from the area and we hit it on occasion on our trips back to the area — which are pretty frequent (a few times a year)

  37. I have been there for Wine in the Woods. We heard some bands and had some wine. It was wonderful

  38. We have never been or even heard of this.

  39. sarah tracey says:

    we have been there several times

  40. I have been, but it’s been years. I’d love to see this event!

  41. Never been there. Sounds fun though. I’d gift the tix to my friend that live in Il.

  42. I have never been to Morton Arboretum like too soon

  43. katie klein says:

    I have never been there but would love to go!

  44. Joseph Hawkshaw says:

    This looks so awesome i would love to go to one of these.

  45. Alina Hahn says:

    We have never been but we live next to Taltree Arboretum and we love it there so I’m sure we would love Morton!