Press Release

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum returns November 20

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Five new features and special Human+Nature display

LISLE, Ill. (Sept. 15, 2021) — The ninth annual Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum will return to a walking experience with five new lighting features, including a special Human+Nature display. Last year’s Illumination was adapted to a driving experience due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From Nov. 20 through Jan. 2, 2022, guests can explore 50 acres of the Arboretum’s majestic trees during an one-of-a-kind spectacle of color, light and sound. The exhibition takes guests on a journey along a one-mile, paved walking path amid festive music and lighting effects that highlight the beauty of trees in winter. Along the route, guests can warm up by a crackling fire and roast marshmallows for s’mores, or stop in one of the concession tents for a snack and beverage.

“This year’s Illumination will include unique new features for those who have made it a holiday tradition year after year, such as the chance to see a Human+Nature sculpture lit at night,” said Preston Bautista, Ph.D., vice president of learning and engagement. “Returning to a walking trail will bring friends and families together again to enjoy a special seasonal lighting experience.”

This year’s new experiences, include:

  • A lighting display of Hallow, the iconic sculpture by artist Daniel Popper in the Arboretum’s Human+Nature exhibition.
  • Enchanted Gateway, a new entry portal of glowing lights leading to Meadow Lake.
  • Festival of Lanterns, where guests walk under 150 colorful lanterns at the top of Frost Hill.
  • Golden Glade, a meadow of lights at the top of the Conifer trail.
  • Winter Radiance, a new path leading back to the Visitor Center featuring colorful reeds.

Also new this year is an Arbor Court photo opportunity and festive music throughout the entire Illumination trail. Returning favorites include Treemagination, Symphony Woods, Woodland Wonder, Ornament Hill, The Champion Tree, Enchanted Forest and Crown of Light.

IllumiBrew, a special pre-opening event Nov. 18 and 19, invites guests 21 and older to be the first to see the 2021 exhibition while enjoying beer tastings along the trail.

The exhibition was custom designed and developed uniquely for The Morton Arboretum in partnership with international media and exhibit designers Lightswitch LLC and  features energy-efficient, eco-friendly LED lighting. “Every year since its inception, we have embraced The Morton Arboretum’s mission as the champion of trees,” said Lightswitch’s John Featherstone, the exhibition’s lighting designer. “Illumination is an unparalleled lighting experience, immersing guests in nature and highlighting the many ways trees are a gift to people and communities.”

Illumination tickets go on sale Oct. 1. Members receive early-bird pricing through Oct. 31. Ticket prices range from $7 to $24 per person. Children under age 2 will be admitted free of charge.

Illumination sponsor ComEd is offering a 20% discount for a limited number of non-member Illumination tickets on select Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays using the code COMEDLIGHTS2021 at checkout (see the mortonarb.org website for specific dates). The offer is valid for up to four tickets per transaction and is subject to availability.

Timed tickets may be purchased online beginning Oct. 1 at mortonarb.org, in person at the Arboretum Visitor Center during operating hours or on-site each night of Illumination, as tickets remain available. The Arboretum recommends purchasing tickets in advance, in the event an evening may be sold out. Questions about the event can be directed to the Ticket Line at 630-725-2066.

Illumination will open each evening at 4:30 p.m., with last entry at 8:30 p.m. Lights go out at 9:30 p.m. The exhibition is closed Nov. 22, 25 (Thanksgiving) and 29, and December 6, 13, 24 (Christmas Eve) and 25 (Christmas Day).

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