Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


 by Mauverneen

It's back for a second run! If you are anywhere near the Morton Arboretum between Nov. 21 and January 3 - This is well worth the trip! Mesmerizing and delightful, it's a great Christmas time event! Great for the family, a romantic evening out, or just to bring out the kid in yourself.

Christmas is right around the corner and malls, parks, zoos and individual homeowners are putting up holiday displays.  Trees, nativity sets, plastic snowmen – what have you.  And lights.  Lots and lots of lights. 

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle Illinois is putting on a very different kind of light show this holiday season. Called Illumination, it is a show of lights that celebrates trees in a very festive and totally different way. It is a one-of-a-kind lighting event and the first ever for the 91 year old arboretum.

Visitor Center and outdoor sitting area

I love Christmas lights, they’re colorful, fun, brighten the night, provide ambiance, and make me feel good.  But this show? WOW!  Sure, there are plenty of trees wrapped in Christmas lights from top to bottom and as a professional Christmas tree decorator in a previous life, I can appreciate the work that went into wrapping all those trees with all those lights. But the real fun, where the oohs and the aaahs come in, is not in the standard lighted evergreens and light wrapped trees. Not in this event.
Hundreds of enchanting lights

Driving towards the park, I caught views of spotlights and lighted trees, glowing in the dark, enticing me into the park, where the parking lot and the area around the visitor center was joyfully filled with dozens of sparkly, lighted trees. I was already enthralled, but as the saying goes – ‘You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

View across the lake at an ever changing kaleidoscope of color

Illumination is a one mile long, paved trail that winds around a lake and through the trees.  The initial view of the display is mesmerizing. Approaching the trail from the visitor center, you’re treated to a breathtaking view of trees, lit by a kaleidoscope of changing color and light, reflected at your feet in Meadow Lake. The path circles the lake, passing the Tinsel Colonnade, where lights appear to fall from the sky.  Other stops along the trail have lanterns and even chandeliers hanging from the trees. Oh, would that I had the landscape to do that in my own yard – it’s magical!

Chandeliers overhead

Several concession tents are set up along the walk where you can warm up with hot cocoa or hot cider and sit for a while in front of a roaring outdoor fire or make your own s’mores. It was raining lightly the evening I was there, but it didn’t dampen the experience (pun intended!) at all. The path is paved and wheel chairs are available (limited – so first come, first served) for those who cannot walk the mile. 

Colorful signs mark interactive stations
Interactive stations along the trail allow you to change patterns and scenes being projected onto the trees with a wave of the hand, sing to or hug trees and watch them change color. Kids and adults alike were trying it out. Kids were loving it because no one was telling them ‘Don’t touch’ – in fact, touching is encouraged. It is very much a hands on event. Older adults were marveling at the technology, and couples were enjoying an evening stroll through a fascinating wonderland.

Getting ready to hug a tree

The Morton Arboretum partnered with John Featherstone of the prestigious Lightswitch, an award winning, world renown lighting and visual design firm, to develop the event. Two years in the planning and three weeks to set up, it’s an engaging interactive event using cutting edge technology, yet the entire exhibit uses only as much energy as 3 homes.  It’s a fun, wondrous event – bring the kids, bring the significant other, bring mom and dad. It truly is an experience that appeals to all ages.

Lanterns and lights reflected in the water double your fun
/Runs November 21, 2014 through January 3, 2015
Doors open: 5:00 p.m.
Last entry: 8:30 p.m.
Lights out: 9:30 p.m.
Illumination is closed Monday, December 8; Monday, December 15; Wednesday, December 24; and Thursday, December 25.
 November 21-26, December 2-19, and December 29-January 3:
$12 member adult/$6 member child (ages 2-17)
$17 nonmember adult/$11 nonmember child (ages 2-17)
 November 28-30, December 20-23, and December 26-28:
$15 member adult/$8 member child (ages 2-17)
$20 nonmember adult/$13 nonmember child (ages 2-17)
To read more about the exhibit, hours and fees, use this link

As always, words and photos are my own, and require permission to reprint.
However, feel free to share the blog in it's entirety. In fact, I encourage it!
Interested in photo prints? Contact me!
and visit my website:

No comments:

Post a Comment