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Press Release: Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum opens this week with IllumiBrew preview

New ADA compliant route, immersive displays and ’80s late-night event highlight 11th season

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LISLE, Ill. (Nov. 14, 2023) — Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum will brighten up the holiday season beginning with its popular IllumiBrew beer tasting event Nov. 16 and 17, followed by the exhibition’s seven-week run opening on Saturday, Nov. 18.

Hailed as one of the best winter light shows in the country by U.S. News and World Report and USA Today, the 11th annual celebration of trees in winter runs through Jan. 6.

“The Arboretum has welcomed nearly 2 million visitors to Illumination since its inception in 2013, with many who have made it a holiday tradition to come every year,” said Preston Bautista, vice president of learning and engagement. “Illumination has been the backdrop for many magical moments, from families celebrating milestones to engagement proposals.”

This year’s exhibition will feature 18 dazzling light and music displays, including two new and four updated experiences, along a new reversed route that is ADA compliant and accessible for all visitors. The Illumination journey begins in The Grand Garden after entering through a gateway of light. The more immersive mile-long path surrounds guests with light and music in enhanced exhibits Golden Glade and Ornament Hill, eventually leading to a waterfront finale synchronized to music at the Arboretum’s Meadow Lake.

Brand new displays are Starlit Trail – large twinkling “stars” that envelop the walking path – and Winter Radiance – LED “tall grasses” that pay homage to native Midwest plant species. They join returning favorites such as Symphony Woods, Treemagination, Festival of Lanterns and more.

IllumiBrew, a 21-and-older beer-tasting event, offers a first-look preview of the new exhibition from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday. More than 35 Chicago area breweries stationed along the Illumination trail will offer 3-ounce beer samples served in a light-up tasting glass.

“IllumiBrew is popular with craft beer enthusiasts because the Chicago-area breweries, cideries and meaderies serve at least one hard-to-get or seasonal option among samples of the best they have to offer,” said Jenelle Metcalf, special events manager.”

This year, Electric Illumination – an 18-and-older late-night experience – will feature a new curated disco and house music soundtrack from 9:30 to 11 p.m. Fridays, Dec. 8, 15 and 22; and an ’80s music-themed dance party Dec. 29, featuring hits from Prince, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Journey, Madonna, Talking Heads and more. Also new, and exclusive to Electric Illumination, is a 360-degree photo booth featuring a camera that rotates around a platform where guests can stand, pose or dance for a professional-looking video they can share on their social media.

Warm concession tents will offer beverages and snacks, such as s’mores kits, hot chocolate and festive cocktails, beer and wine, to enjoy by crackling bonfires along the route.

The exhibition was custom designed and developed uniquely for the Arboretum in partnership with international media and exhibit designers Lightswitch LLC and features energy-efficient, eco-friendly LED lighting.

Illumination tickets are available at and in-person at the Arboretum Visitor Center during operating hours. Ticket prices for Illumination and Electric Illumination vary based on the day and time selected, beginning at $18. Members receive the lowest ticket prices, with a 20% discount on all tickets. Children under age 2 are admitted free of charge. Through the Museums for All program, reduced-rate weeknight tickets are available to those with a state-issued EBT or LINK card, or a valid WIC card, while supplies last.

Illumination is generously sponsored by Invesco QQQ, ComEd, and Duly Health and Care.