The Morton Arboretum debuts new Illumination Tree Lights Experience

The Morton Arboretum debuts new Illumination Tree Lights Experience

Beginning tomorrow, The Morton Arboretum’s (already lovely) trees 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 will offer a holiday experience far beyond traditional twinkling lights, featuring trees that respond to touch and sound, and vivid, electric colors throughout.

Combining cutting-edge light technology with the wooded landscape of the Arboretum, Illumination takes visitors on a mile-long, paved walking trail winding around the Arboretum’s Meadow Lake and down its Conifer Walk with plenty of surprises along the way. 

Highlights include:

  • 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
  • Shadow Lanterns: gently moving in the wind, creating shimmering patterns of light and shadow on visitors and trees
  • Tinsel Colonnade: where bright strands of colorful light glimmer brightly from the branches like tinsel on the trees
  • 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
  • Crystal Chandeliers: a series of crystal chandeliers suspended within a grove of trees.
  • The iconic Four Columns sculptures which appear to gently rotate
  • The Island of Light: a tree island on which visitors control the projection of color and brightness of lights
  • 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
  • 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

The trail also includes 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 full calendar of events is 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.

Illumination opens each night at 4:30 p.m.with the last entry at 8:30 p.m. The event will be closed on November 28 and December 2, 9, 16, 24 and 25.

Ticket prices are $15 for adults and $10 for children 2 to 17 years old. For Arboretum members, prices are $10 for adults and $5 for children 2 to 17 years old.  The event is free for children under 2. Visitors are encouraged to dress for the weather as this is an outdoor experience.


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