Morton Arboretum’s Illumination lands on USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice list

Photo of lit up trees and water at Morton Arborteum's Illumination
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Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum has received some national notice. The seasonal colorful light show landed at No. 6 for “Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights” on USA TODAY’s 2023 10Best Readers’ Choice list.

This is the second time Illumination has garnered a spot in that ranking, having last been listed in 2019 at No. 8. It’s the only holiday light show in Illinois to have made the list this year.

Illumination continues to garner national attention as a non-traditional holiday light experience where the trees, rather than the lights, are the stars of the show,” said Amy Scott, the Arboretum’s head of exhibitions, in a news release.

How are winners on USA TODAY’s 10Best lists chosen?

According to the publication, the top picks are made after a panel of experts submits nominees, which are then narrowed down by 10Best editors. They then put the decision into the readers’ hands, allowing them to vote once per category, per day.

USA TODAY isn’t the only news outlet to tout the arboretum’s exhibit. Illumination also earned a spot on the U.S. News and World Report’s list of “25 Best Christmas Light Displays + Tours for 2023.”

About Illumination itself

This is the 11th year for Illumination, which has become a holiday trademark for The Morton Arboretum. The exhibit features 18 light and music displays set along an outdoor mile-long path through the arboretum.

Favorites like the Golden Glade and Ornament Hill were joined by newcomers this year like the Starlit Trail, featuring “stars’ along the walking path, and Winter Radiance, a group of LED “tall grasses.” This year also features a new path through the exhibit, which is ADA accessible.

“Unlike other holiday light shows, the Arboretum has always focused on showcasing the beauty of trees in winter while providing a family-friendly outdoor holiday experience,” Scott said. “It has become a seasonal tradition for many families.”

Since the event began in 2013, nearly 2 million people have come to view it. This year’s display runs through Jan. 6.

Top spot on USA TODAY’s 10Best list for Botanical Garden Holiday Lights

The top spot on USA TODAY’s 10Best list for Botanical Garden Holiday Lights list went to Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia.

In second was the Galaxy of Lights at Huntsville Botanical Garden in Huntsville, Alabama.

The list was part of a larger guide directing folks to the “best things to do and places to visit this season.”

Photo courtesy: The Morton Arboretum

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