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Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum Returns

Treemagination display in purple and blue reflections on large pines
July 29, 2019

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum will return for a seventh year this November to The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. This one of-a-kind interactive spectacle of color, light and sound will awe and delight visitors with all-new features and returning favorites.

From November 23, 2019, through January 5, 2020, 50 acres of the Arboretum’s majestic trees will be transformed with lights and music. Embracing the Arboretum’s tree-focused mission as the champion of trees, this exhibition will take visitors on a journey along a winding, paved path through light-filled experiences that highlight the many ways trees are a gift to people and communities.

Prior to the public opening, Illumination will kick off on Friday, November 22, with IllumiBrew, a ticketed, pre-opening event that allows guests 21 and older to be among the first to see the 2019 exhibition while enjoying beer tastings along the trail.

In addition to family favorite features such as Treemagination and Symphony Woods, this year’s exhibition will offer several new experiences such as Tree Fascination, a brilliant digital projection of immersive color and pattern on a grove of eastern white and scots pine trees. This year’s event will also debut a new route with a more spacious pathway.

New features in 2019:

  • Inspired by elements of the popular feature Treemagination, 2019 marks the debut of Tree Fascination! A mixture of art and science, this experience uses video projection to showcase the beauty and form of trees using color and pattern.
  • To maximize the experience, a new route and expanded pathway and promenade will allow visitors to enjoy the displays at their own pace. Illuminated words such as “Champion,” “Tree” and “Breathe” will guide and inspire visitors along the enhanced trail that is just over one mile in length.
  • The young and the young at heart will find favorite interactive experiences including Hug-a-Tree, where visitors can hug a tree and watch it respond with pulsating light; Tree Harmony, where individuals or groups can watch the lights glow and move to the sound of their singing; and Ornament Hill, where visitors can control the color of  giant, glittering orbs

Entertainment and Special Events

  • IllumiBrew, Friday, November 22
    As they enjoy beer tastings along the Illumination trail, guests 21 and older will be among the first to see the 2019 exhibition during this pre-opening, ticketed event.  Illumination will open to all visitors beginning Saturday, November 23.
  • Santa Visits, Tuesdays, December 3, 10 and 17
    Every Tuesday between Thanksgiving and Christmas will offer an opportunity for children to visit with Santa
  • Troll Hunt, daily
    Throughout Illumination, visitors will have the opportunity to see a lit-up “Alexa” and “Joe,” two of the giant wooden sculptures from the popular and beloved Troll Hunt exhibition

Concession tents and cozy fire pits along the Illumination trail will feature snacks and beverages including gourmet hot chocolate. Visitors can also enjoy a full dinner menu every night of Illumination at the Ginkgo Restaurant and Ginkgo Café. Additionally, visitors can take a break to enjoy a cozy fire at warming areas along the Illumination path.

Returning Favorites:

  • Created exclusively for The Morton Arboretum by Smithsonian-featured collaborative installation arts collective HYBYCOZO, the Crown of Light experience features five steel sculptures with laser-cut patterns that beam lights of brilliant, vivid color. If the weather permits, guests will be able to venture off the path and for close-up views of the pieces.
  • Meadow Lake Magic has been enhanced with tendrils of light that change color in response to the wind as they meet on the water’s surface
  • Symphony Woods, a joyful celebration set to well-known seasonal music and a beloved visitor favorite, has been refreshed with new music for 2019. 
  • In a new, secluded location, visitors can experience the magic of Woodland Wonder, where they will be enveloped by a visual duet between thousands of luminous, rotating points of laser light and starlike sparkles from dozens of gently rotating mirror balls.
  • Silhouetted by brilliant up-lighting, The Champion Tree — a stunning, iconic honey locust —provides the axis around which Illumination rotates.
  • The Crystal Promenade offers the deep quiet and beauty of a grove of conifers, lit with chandeliers.
  • In the Enchanted Forest, visitors can push buttons to make light and colors skip from tree to tree.
  • Using a grove of trees as a viewing screen, Treemagination features dramatic projections that drench the trees with saturated fields of color, amazing geometric patterns and simulated movement.
  • For the grand finale, a redesigned Fantasy Forest energizes the Hedge Collection with music and spectacular dancing lights.

"Whether you’re visiting for the first time or as part of an annual tradition, Illumination 2019 combines traditional guest favorites with new experiences and re-imagined installations that are sure to delight everyone,” said Sarah Sargent, Manager of Interpretation and Exhibits at The Morton Arboretum.

Tickets to Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum go on sale October 1, 2019.  Ticket prices range from $13 to $23 for adults and $7 to $15 for children, with special early bird pricing available for members between October 1-31. To purchase tickets, visit mortonarb.org/illumination.

Illumination is generously supported by Invesco QQQ and ComEd.

About Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum invites visitors to see trees in a different light on a  path just over one mile, surrounded by 50 acres of the Arboretum’s trees and brought to life with LED lights, interactive elements and sound. With accolades from local and national media including Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today, Illumination has quickly become a winter tradition, welcoming visitors from around the world. The event is built in partnership with noted experiential lighting designers Lightswitch and production company Intelligent Lighting Creations (ILC), and features energy-efficient, eco-friendly LED lighting.