Immersive exhibits among new highlights at Morton Arboretum’s ‘Illumination’

The Morton Arboretum is bringing back “Illumination,” a holiday favorite, with new displays and an 80s-themed electric show.

Now in its 11th year, “Illumination” has become a holiday favorite, drawing sell-out crowds of more than 6,000 people on peak days and bringing more than 220,000 guests to the arboretum in Lisle during the holiday season.

“People come back year after year,” said Tari Marshall, director of public relations and social media for Morton Arboretum in Lisle. “This is one of the most unique light displays in the nation. There is nothing else like ‘Illumination’ because it was created uniquely for the arboretum.”

Morton Arboretum members can purchase tickets to the popular event starting Monday, Oct. 16. Ticket sales open to the general public on Oct. 23.

Marshall suggested people purchase tickets early to take advantage of the arboretum’s plan-ahead pricing for the event, which starts Nov. 18 and runs through Jan. 6.

“Plan-ahead pricing offers the best deals on tickets the earlier you purchase, and depending on the day and time you chose,” she said. “This helps everyone find prices that best meet their budget and schedule, rather than a one-price-fits-all approach.”

“Illumination” will feature 18 exhibits, including two new displays. Winter Radiance, a new exhibit this year, will feature kinetic LED tall grasses mimicking the Midwest indigenous plant species. Guests also will walk among the stars in the new Starlit Trail exhibit.



Four popular exhibits — Festival of Lanterns, Ornament Hill, Symphony Woods, and Golden Glade — return with enhanced experiences.

“Some of the returning features are going to be turned into immersive displays,” Marshall said. “So, you’ll have lights on both sides.”

The mile-long trail also is fully ADA-compliant and accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. In previous years, the trail had a slight incline, making it difficult for wheelchairs and strollers. This year, the trail has been reversed, she said.

Also new this year is an 80s-themed Electric Illumination on Dec. 29 featuring songs like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” and Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come on Eileen.” Electric Illumination is open to adults 18 and over and will be held on Dec. 8, 15, 22, and 29. Other scheduled Electric Illumination will feature a curated trance of trance and progressive house music.

Warming bonfires and concessions will be available along the mile-long trail. IllumiBrew, a 21 and over preview event returns on Nov. 16 and 17, allowing guests a first look at “Illumination” and a sampling of local brews and ciders.

To purchase tickets, visit


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