The Morton Arboretum’s Illumination returning with new displays and route

Light display from the illumination event.
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The Morton Arboretum’s light show Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum is returning for its 11th year with the return of popular attractions and events along with a new path and new displays.

The return of Illumination

This year’s event will take place from Nov. 18 through Jan. 6 of next year.

There will be 19 features to see across the 50 acres of land, including a new reversed mile-long paved path that is ADA-compliant and accessible for everyone.

“This year’s Illumination path was partially reconstructed and the route reversed to be fully accessible to those using wheelchairs, and for families with young children in strollers,” said Preston Bautista, Ph.D., vice president of learning and engagement, in a press release. “Reversing the route will also allow the lighting exhibits to expand beyond their traditional footprints, to both sides of the path, resulting in a more immersive experience.”

New displays and old favorites

Along with the new path, there are also new displays making their debut. Those include Starlit Trail, large shining stars that surround the walking path, and Winter Radiance, LED tall grasses lending a nod to native Midwest plant species.

The Of the Earth signature sculpture, part of the series added to the arboretum this year, will welcome guests into the Illumination display, with some special lighting of its own.

And Illumination favorites like Symphony Woods, Treemagination, Ornament Hill, Festival of Lanterns, and others will be returning.

There will also be concession stands serving hot chocolate, snacks, other beverages, and even s’mores kits that can be enjoyed by the bonfires. Food can also be purchased and enjoyed at the on-site Ginkgo Restaurant, with a view that looks out to the Meadow Lake finale.

Returning event nights

Along with the standard Illumination nights, there will also be some special event nights making their return.

Electric Illumination is coming back for its second year for those 18 years and older. Guests will enjoy a mix of trance and progressive house music that will be synchronized with the light displays.

It will take place from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on December 8, 15, 22, and 29.

Also returning is the special preview event for those 21 and up: IlluminiBrew. Visitors can enjoy the light display all while sampling local brews as they walk along the trail.

It will run from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Nov. 16 and 17. 

Tickets for Illumination as well as the special night events will be available starting Oct. 16 on the Morton Arboretum website or in person at the visitor center.

Photo courtesy: The Morton Arboretum

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