Holidays In Chicago: Illumination Tree Lights At The Morton Arboretum – Forbes

Holidays In Chicago: Illumination Tree Lights At The Morton Arboretum – Forbes

The Morton Arboretum Illuminations is a much-loved holiday program.

Michael Hudson

The Morton Arboretum is once again hosting its annual holiday program Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum. Located in Lisle, Illinois—just outside Chicago—the annual holiday tradition is now in its ninth year.  

The Morton Arboretum is an internationally-recognized tree-focused botanical garden and research center that includes 1,700 acres of specialty tree and plant collections, nine miles of roads and 16 miles of hiking trails. There’s also a children’s garden and educational programs offered throughout the year.  

Blending nature, technology, and art this holiday light display is highly anticipated each year. Last year, due to Covid safety precautions, this event was converted to a drive-through experience, but now it’s back to its original format with a one-mile walking path that lets visitors go at their own pace. So, families of young kids can stop longer at certain exhibits or couples can linger at their favorite displays.

The Morton Arboretum Illuminations combines nature and art.

Michael Hudson

At the root, Illumination (and the entire Morton Arboretum) is all about highlighting the importance of trees in nature. The goal is to inspire people to appreciate, learn about, and protect trees. By showcasing them in such a beautiful light, the hope is the younger generation will be motivated to take an active approach to protecting the environment.

People can experience a new appreciation by walking through the color, light and sound show that explores the beauty of trees in winter. Kids and adults can warm up by a crackling fire and roast marshmallows for s’mores, or stop in one of the concession tents for a snack and beverage. 

Highlights at this year’s Illumination include a lighting display of Hallow, the iconic sculpture by artist Daniel Popper in the Arboretum’s Human+Nature exhibition. Enchanted Gateway is a new entry portal of glowing lights leading to Meadow Lake. One of the most popular sections is Festival of Lanterns, where guests walk under 150 colorful lanterns at the top of Frost Hill. Golden Glade, a meadow of lights at the top of the Conifer trail, is also a highlight. Winter Radiance, a new path leading back to the Visitor Center featuring colorful reeds, is a nice touch.

Morton Arboretum Illuminations is popular with both kids and adults.

Michael Hudson

Also new this year is an Arbor Court photo opportunity and festive music throughout the entire Illumination trail. Returning favorites include Treemagination, Symphony Woods, Woodland Wonder, Ornament Hill, The Champion Tree, Enchanted Forest and Crown of Light. 

Illumination ticket prices range from $7 to $24 per person. Children under age two are free of charge. Timed tickets may be purchased at, in person at the Arboretum Visitor Center during operating hours or on-site each night of Illumination, as tickets remain available. The Arboretum recommends purchasing tickets in advance, in the event an evening may be sold out. Illumination will open each evening at 4:30 p.m., with last entry at 8:30 p.m. Lights go out at 9:30 p.m. The exhibition …….


Event Sound/Lighting