Chicago, IL

Head to the Morton Arboretum this holiday season and immerse yourself in a magical light show

Jennifer Geer

(CHICAGO) After transitioning to a drive-through experience during the pandemic, Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle is back on this year as a walking tour

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Treeimagination(Photo courtesy of The Morton Arboretum)

This holiday season, take a drive about 30 miles west of Chicago to The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, where you will find yourself surrounded by nature in a winter wonderland.

The Arboretum has been putting on the popular holiday display, Illumination: Tree Lights, for nine years now. In 2020, during the pandemic, the event was reimagined as a driving tour.

And now in 2021, it's back on again as it should be viewed, as an immersive walking trail.

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Enchanted Forest(Photo courtesy of The Morton Arboretum)

Old favorites return

If you've experienced Illumination in previous years, you likely have a few favorite exhibits you are looking forward to seeing.

Some returning exhibits include:

  • The Enchanted Forest
  • The Champion Tree
  • Treemagination
  • Symphony Woods
  • Ornament Hill
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Ornament Hill(Photo courtesy of The Morton Arboretum)

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The Champion Tree(Photo courtesy of The Morton Arboretum)

New this year

The Arboretum's 26-foot sculpture from this summer's Human+Nature exhibit will be on display. Also new: an entryway featuring glittering lights, a conifer walk lined with colored light reeds, and white lights blanketing a hilltop meadow.

If it gets chilly, you can always take a break and warm up at various bonfires along the trail. Also, concession vendors will be selling snacks and hot beverages.

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Human+Nature(Photo courtesy of The Morton Arboretum)

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Illumination warming fires(Photo courtesy of The Morton Arboretum)

Music on the trail

The Arboretum uses music to further immerse its guests into the experience as they walk past the glowing and twinkling lights. Visitors can expect to hear a variety of songs from traditional classics, to worldwide cultures, to the Harry Potter soundtrack.

Arboretum Vice President of Learning and Engagement Preston Bautista, Ph.D., said in a press release, "the use of music throughout the trail will immerse guests in the outdoor experience from beginning to end, while creating a welcoming feel for those from a variety of cultures and with different musical tastes."

The details

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Meadow Lake Magic(Photo courtesy of The Morton Arboretum)

The exhibit opened on November 20 and runs through January 2, 2022. The show starts at 4:30 PM, with the last entry at 8:30 PM. And it's lights out by 9:30 PM.

Don't plan on buying tickets at the door, as this event frequently sells out.

A check for tickets for today, Friday, November 26 revealed a sold-out show. Be sure to check ahead and reserve your tickets online on the website. Ticket prices range per person from $8 to $24.

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