Events

Destination Asia Festival

Explore the diverse cultures of Asia through music, dance, food, and trees.

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Explore the diverse cultures of Asia through music, dance, food, and more. Join in throughout the weekend for a fun-filled experience that will transport you across the globe.

On Friday, August 5, the annual Destination Asia Festival will kick off with a formal opening ceremony, engaging performances, culinary delights, and a breathtaking Japanese lantern display, Toro Nagashi, on Meadow Lake.

On Saturday, August 6 and Sunday, August 7, enjoy diverse cultural performances and demonstrations, various craft and art vendors. and local food trucks.

Did you know The Morton Arboretum has a vast tree and shrub collection from Asian countries? Explore the curated tree collections from China, Japan, and Korea and learn about the important conservation efforts in which the Arboretum participates.

Update: Lanterns for the Toro Nagashi Ceremony are now sold out. 

Asia Festival kicks off with a formal ceremony, engaging performances, culinary delights, and a breathtaking Japanese lantern display, Toro Nagashi, on Meadow Lake.

Toro Nagashi, (灯籠) “toro”, pronounced toh-roh, means “lantern”, while (流し) “nagashi”, pronounced nah-gah-shee, means “cruise” or “flow”. Walk the Meadow Lake Trail to admire hundreds of floating lanterns flickering in the calm waters of the lake. The viewing of the event is free, with paid timed-entry Arboretum admission to the grounds.

Purchase a lantern and personalize it to remember a loved one, an important moment in your life, or a wish you have for the future. Lanterns are available to be purchased online or on-site at the event. Lanterns can be picked up at the event and decorated from 6:00–7:30 p.m. Lanterns will be released into Meadow Lake starting at 8:00 p.m. Lantern sales will stop at 7:30 p.m.

The purchase of a lantern does not include general admission into the Arboretum; guests wishing to purchase lanterns will also have to pay general admission to attend the Destination Asia Opening Night Ceremonies. If you are unable to attend the event your lantern will still be released into the lake in a glowing display. These lanterns are not for purchase to take home, rather to be released in a floating display that evening on Meadow Lake.

The Prairie State Bonsai Society

The Prairie State Bonsai Society is proud to present its 2022 Bonsai exhibit at the Destination Asia Festival. Bonsai is the Japanese art of growing and developing trees and other woody-stemmed plants in pots. The Japanese art form was originally derived from the Chinese art of penjing, so it is deeply rooted (pun intended) in Asian culture. Other cultures, such as Vietnam, have similar disciplines.

The club’s members come from all over Chicagoland and we will be displaying trees that we have been developing over the years. They also have a section of trees in training so that visitors can see bonsai trees in progress. Please visit the Sycamore Room to view the exhibit, talk to Bonsai Society members, and vote for the “People’s Choice” award given to the public’s favorite tree.

The Prairie State Bonsai Society was originally incorporated in 1987 as the Morton Arboretum Bonsai Society, becoming independent in 1994, but continuing to work with the Arboretum for the past 35 years.

Class registration

For a more in-depth look into the world of bonsai trees, register for a class below.

Brazilian Rain Tree (Chloroleucon tortum) Workshop
Japanese Juniper (Juniperus procumbens) Workshop
Fukien Tea Tree (Carmona retusa) Workshop
Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) Workshop

Ray Chinese School

The Ray Chinese School will be offering family-friendly programming and activities in the Children’s Garden on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

Established in 1992, the Ray Chinese School is the largest Chinese school in the Chicago area. Their goal is to promote students’ successful Mandarin Chinese language and culture learning through engaging curriculum and effective instruction. The School also offers a variety of cultural courses such as Chinese literature, painting, dancing, music, chess, GO and martial arts. It serves the western suburbs of Chicago by organizing cultural exchanges, sports and other social activities for students, their parents and other members of the community. They currently accept students from preschool to 9th grade.

Performances will take place across three stages located in the Meadow Lake Area. Additional programming will take place around Meadow Lake, Arbor Court, and Frost Hill.

View 2022 Destination Asia Festival Program here >

There will also be craft vendors located throughout the festival. Participating vendors include:

  • Asian Artique;
  • Gindo’s Spice of Life;
  • Henna Tattoo;
  • Muiji Studio;
  • National Indo-American Museum, and;
  • The Spice Merchant and Tea Shoppe.

Concessions and featured items will be available in Arbor Court alongside participating food truck vendors. There will also be signature dishes and sushi options available inside the Ginkgo Restaurant and Café.

Food truck vendors

Chicago Lunchbox (Friday only)

Masiramon Chicago (Saturday and Sunday)

Meat on the Street (Saturday and Sunday)

Yum Dum Asian Fusion Food Truck (Saturday)

Savory Crust (Sunday)

 

Featured menu items

Vegetable eggrolls (2 pieces) $6

Crab rangoon (3 pieces) $8

Barbecue pork steamed buns (2 pieces) $8

Chicken tikka masala served with jasmine rice and naan $12

Soft pretzel $7

 

Concessions

Chips $3

Cookie $3

Boxed Water $4

Soda $3.50

Apple juice box $2.25

Coconut water $5

Iced coffee $5

Craft/imported beer $7

Domestic beer $6

White Claw $7

Wine $12

 

Specialty drinks

Perfect Snow sake $12

Junmai Ginjo sake $12

Sapporo beer $7

Asahi beer $7

The Destination Asia Festival takes place along the paved walking paths of the Visitor Center area, Meadow Lake and the Conifer Trail. These paths are accessible for wheelchairs and walkers but do include a few hills. The stages will be stationed on the grass of these walking trails.

View the Accessibility Guide for more detailed information.

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