A Little Time and a Keyboard: Illumination Lights Up the Trees at Morton Arboretum

Illumination Lights Up the Trees at Morton Arboretum

Saturday, November 28, 2015

holiday lights

**Disclosure: Thank you to Morton Arboretum for providing tickets so I could bring you this review. No compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

Morton Arboretum's Illumination continues to dazzle during its third year. I remember the first time I learned about Illumination a few years back and I couldn't quite wrap my head around how the Arboretum would be able to light up the trees in an engaging and innovative manner. Each year, however, the Morton Arboretum creates a magical winter wonderland using lights, motion and sound to ignite an appreciation for nature even in the seemingly desolate winter.

Light Show
The lake is lit up with changing lights.
Each year, Morton Arboretum combines new features with old favorites. Thus, it is equally fun to see which displays were retained and which are completely new! The entire walk is about a mile on easy terrain including a portion around the lake. The display melds interactive experiences adeptly within the light show including options to hug trees, sing while lights move to your voice, wave ornaments across trees and illuminate conifers with the push of a button. These novel experiences easily tempt everyone to engage in the adventure!

tree lights
The glory of nature is highlighted!
We enjoyed the experience at a meandering pace which allowed us ample time to play with the interactives and watch light displays as they changed colors including to the sound of music. One of our favorites sections is Ornament Hill which actually appeared to us as a glistening field of snow. Truly a peaceful section to amble through!

Morton Arboretum Illumination
Ornament Hill
With the kids, anything interactive is fun! We made stops to hug a tree, sing, light up trees and decorate the trees. Illumination inspires kids to enjoy the outdoors in the winter--plus the gorgeous displays and fresh air are very welcome!

Decorating the trees with ornaments.
Overall Illumination is an evening full of cheer for families! The pace is perfect for those with little ones. Plus, the engaging exhibits really speak to children. Such a delight to see kids enthusiatically engage with nature! A couple of sections while pretty may be perceived as "slower" patches and a little less interesting for kids. However, the interactives are never too far away so just let them know what they can expect just around the corner! Childhood exuberance will return! All in all a jolly time!

Plenty of opportunities for exploration!

To Know:
  • There are several warming stations. Some consist of campfires and some have concessions where you can buy light treats, hot cocoa, etc.
  • I do recommend bringing in some hot cocoa in a mug with you if you can. The hot cocoa served can be pretty hot so this will ensure you have some at the right temp for the kids.
  • Dress for the weather and wear appropriate shoes for walking.
  • Bring some extra gloves, scarves etc depending on weather.
  • Definitely purchase tickets in advance as the event tends to sell out.
  • Some nights feature musical entertainment. Check website for schedule.
  • Check out the gift shop not only for light up novelties but also a range of giftables including many made in America. Great for holiday shopping!
  • Have a snack at the Gingko Restaurant and enjoy a breathtaking view of the lake lights!
  • Arriving closer to 7PM as opposed to when the exhibit opens may make parking easier.
  • Check the map for ways to engage using social media.
  • You can recycle your own holiday lights by bringing them to the Visitor's Center!
tree lights
Trees respond to singing!
Ticket Information:

November 20, 2015 through January 2, 2016*
Doors open: 5:00 p.m.
Last entry: 8:30 p.m.
Lights out: 9:30 p.m.
*Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the following Mondays: November 23, November 30, December 7, and December 14.
Tickets are limited. Advance purchase recommended. Choose your dates carefully, as all Illumination tickets are date-specific and cannot be refunded.
Illumination nights: November 27-29 and December 19-23, and December 26-27:
Member adult $15
Member child $8 (Ages 2–17)
Illumination nights:  November 20-25, December 1-18, and December 28-January 2:
Member adult $12
Member child $6 (Ages 2–17)


Illumination nights: November 27-29 and December 19-23, and December 26-27:
Nonmember adult $20
Nonmember child $13 (Ages 2–17)
Illumination nights: November 20-25, December 1-18, and December 28-January 2:
Nonmember adult $17
Nonmember child $11 (Ages 2–17)
You can purchase tickets conveniently online!

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