Wintertime and Christmastime events at The Morton Arboretum® in southwest suburban Lisle, Illinois include Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum and IllumiBrew, the Holiday Herbal Cocktails event, Breakfast with Santa, Supper with St. Nick, the Whiskey Dinner, and the ongoing Troll Hunt. The 2018-2019 Chamber Concert Series, which is being performed from November to March in the Arbor Room of the Thornhill Education Center is sold out.
Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum
Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum will start on Friday, November 16, 2018 and run through New Year’s Day (Tuesday, January 1, 2019). The opening night event is IllumiBrew. Walk a one-mile-long paved path amid interactive lighting that accentuate the arboreal beauty in wintertime. Listen to seasonal music. [Click here to learn more about musical entertainment.] Afterwards, one can warm up at a fire with a drink or roast marshmallows for s’mores. This year, Illumination includes art from HYBYCOZO (Hyperspace Bypass Construction Zone), a series of large-scale polyhedral artworks. Illumination is closed on Mondays (except on New Year’s Eve). It is also closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
Tickets are available for specific times, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Admission ends four hours later at 8:30 p.m. Lights go off at 9:30 p.m.
Only Morton Arboretum members can purchase AnyDay tickets, which are available in limited quantities through Wednesday, October 31, 2018. These are $30 for children and adults alike. Click here to learn more. [Click here to become a member.] Members save the most when they purchase Early-Bird tickets through October 31st. These tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children (two-to-seventeen) applicable on weekends (defined as Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) and $12 for adults and $6 for children applicable on weekdays (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and New Year’s Eve). Starting on Thursday, November 1, 2018 (All Saint’s Day), members can purchase tickets at the rate of $18 for adults and $10 for children applicable on weekends and $13 for adults and $7 for children applicable on weekdays. Babies and toddlers under two are free.
For non-members, tickets are $23 for adults and $15 for children applicable on weekends and $18 for adults and $12 for children applicable on weekdays. Again, babies and toddlers under two are free.
To purchase tickets in person, stop by the Visitor Center. Call (630) 725-2066 to purchase tickets over the phone Mondays through Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Click here to purchase tickets online. Invesco QQQ and ComEd support Illumination.
The Morton Arboretum offers a limited number of tickets on select weeknights at a discounted rate to visitors who have state-issued EBT cards (also known as LINK cards) or WIC cards. These tickets can be purchased in person or online as long as the date is not sold out. Click here to learn more.
Tickets are non-refundable, so choose dates carefully. It may be possible to exchange tickets in advance, depending on event capacity, but The Morton Arboretum will not accommodate same-day exchanges. There will be a $5 exchange fee. If necessary, there will be an upgrade in ticket price to match the cost of the new day and time. If The Morton Arboretum cancels an Illumination night in whole or in part, they will accommodate ticket-holders according to the cancellation policy.
The aforementioned IllumiBrew Opening Night Event runs from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Friday, November 16, 2018. This is an opportunity to be amongst the first people to view Illumination: Tree Lights this year while sampling beers offered by representatives of over a dozen breweries who will be stationed along the path and then warm up at the Ginkgo Restaurant and there listen to live music. This event is exclusively for adults ages twenty-one-and-over.
An IllumiBrew admission ticket covers entry to Illumination, twelve three-ounce beer samples, and live music in the Ginkgo Room. These tickets are $50 for members and $55 for non-members.
A Designated Driver admission ticket includes entry to Illumination, one complimentary hot beverage (cider or cocoa), unlimited water and soda, and live music in the Ginkgo Room. For members and non-members alike, these tickets cost $25.
To purchase tickets in person, go the Visitor Center. Alternatively, call (630) 725-2066 to purchase tickets over the phone Mondays through Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., or click here to buy tickets online. Due to the popularity of the event, IllumiBrew tickets are an additional $10 at the door.
Please note that owing to the higher ticket price for IllumiBrew, AnyDay tickets, or complimentary tickets for the 2018-19 Illumination season cannot be used for this event.
Holiday Herbal Cocktails
The Holiday Herbal Cocktails event will be on Tuesday, November 27, 2018 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Arbor Room of the Thornhill Education Center. Adults (twenty-one-years-of-age-and-over) will sip a cocktail or two (covered by tickets) while they learn from Shauna Coronado how to select, grow, and use herbs in cocktails. They will learn how to select the right tools for cutting herbs, how to make herbal syrups, as well as how to make herbal-infused liquors. Ms. Coronado’s books will be for sale at this event and there will be a book-signing at the end of the night. Tickets are $39 for members and $46 for non-members. A total of sixty people may attend this event. Guests will have a chance to win prize and product give-aways.
To purchase tickets in person, stop by the Visitor Center. Call (630) 719-2468 to purchase tickets over the phone or to be wait-listed. Click here to purchase tickets online. This event should take place regardless of weather conditions, but if severe weather conditions are forecast, call (630) 719-7979 for updates.
Breakfast with Santa
Breakfast with Santa will be at Ginkgo Restaurant at 9:00 a.m. on the first three weekends in December: Saturday, December 1, 2018; Sunday, December 2, 2018; Saturday, December 8, 2018; Sunday, December 9, 2018; Saturday, December 15, 2018; Sunday, December 16, 2018; Friday, December 21, 2018; Saturday, December 22, 2018; and Sunday, December 23, 2018. Guests will enjoy breakfast with Santa and Christmas carolers. All children present will be able to visit with Santa, so adults should have cameras ready.
Tables will be preset with fruit platters and breakfast pastries. The 2018 Breakfast with Santa Menu will consist of “Fancy French Toast” (cinnamon crème brulee French toast with powdered sugar); “North Pale Scramble” (scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese); “Prancer’s Potato Hay”(golden hashed browns); “Lovely Branches” (Applewood smoked bacon); “Naughty and Nice Brisket” (short rib hash with sweet potatoes and onions); and “Winter Waffles” (Belgian waffles with house-made berry compote, powdered sugar and warm syrup).
Tickets are $37 for adult and teenage (thirteen-years-of-age-and-over) members and $42 for adult and teenage non-members; $32 children (ages three-to-twelve) of members and $36 for children of non-members; and free for wee tykes under three.
To purchase tickets in person, stop at the Visitor Center during open hours. Call (630) 725-2066 to purchase tickets over the phone. Click here to purchase tickets online.
Supper with St. Nick
Supper with St. Nick will be offered from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 20, 2018; Friday, December 21, 2018; Saturday, December 22, 2018; and Sunday, December 23, 2018 in the Thornhill Education Center. Visitors will have a sumptuous family supper and then meet Santa in front of the fireplace in the Founder’s Room. Starters and Salads include cranberry and walnut salad, cream of broccoli and cheddar soup, shrimp cocktail, and assorted dinner rolls. The Main Buffet will consist of hand-carved prime rib and sage subbed turkey, maple glazed sliced ham, slice sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallow, traditional collard greens with ham hocks and onions, and celery and onion stuffing. The desserts will be warm cookies and milk, cinnamon apple cobbler, warm bread pudding with house-made Crème Anglaise, vanilla ice cream. There will be an open bar for adults (twenty-one-years-of-age-and-over).
The tickets are $90 for adult members (twenty-one-years-of-age-and-over) and $95 for adult non-members; $75 for young adult members (ages twelve-to-twenty) and $80 for young adult non-members; $60 for children (ages three-to-twelve) of members and $65 for children of non-members. It will be free for children under three. All tickets include admission to Illumination that evening. To purchase tickets in person, go to the Visitor Center during open hours; or, to do so over the phone, call (630) 725-2066 Mondays through Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; or, to purchase tickets online, click here.
The Whiskey Dinner will be served at the Ginkgo Restaurant on Friday, January 11, 2019 and Saturday, January 12, 2019. It consists of a five-course meal paired with whiskey from Whiskey Acres. Tickets are $90 for members and $100 for non-members. Guests will learn about the spirit whiskey-making process.
The Ongoing Troll Hunt
The Troll Hunt that began in the summer of 2018 is ongoing through the summer of 2019. Danish artist Thomas Dambo carved the six colossal wooden sculptures of trolls out of reclaimed wood. Five of them measure fifteen-to-thirty feet tall, and the reclining one is sixty feet long. Before you visit, check the Troll Hunt Adventure Tips Webpage, download the Troll Hunt Map, pick up a copy of the Troll Hunter’s Guidebook when you arrive, and then have hours of fun driving, hiking, biking the grounds in search of the trolls or ride the Troll Tram.
A Troll Tram ride takes 1 ½ hours. Call (630) 968-0074 for daily times. The fee is $8 for adult members or $10 for adult non-members (eighteen-years-of-age and over) and $6 for the children of members or $8 for the children of non-members (two-to-seven-years-of-age).
There is a unique book about the trolls in the Sterling Morton Library. It can be viewed from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
The Morton Arboretum was the brainchild of Joy Morton (1855-1934), the founder of the Morton Salt Company and eldest son of U. S. Agriculture Secretary Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902). [J. Sterling Morton High School District, headquartered in Cicero, Illinois was named in honor of him.] Julius Sterling Morton had created the civic holiday of Arbor Day in Nebraska. In 1921, when he was sixty-five year old, Joy Morton began the process of converting his estate in what is now Lisle, Thornhill, into an arboretum. The Thornhill estate became the core of what is now a 1,700-acre arboretum, home to about 3,300 kinds of living plants. For this project, he sought advice from Dr. Charles Sprague Sargent (1841–1927), Director of The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University for fifty-four years. Joy Morton’s conversion of his Thornhill estate into the Morton Arboretum should be seen in the context of both his father’s devotion to trees and his own membership in the Chicago Plan Commission.
Admission is $15 for adults (ages eighteen-to-sixty-four), except on Wednesdays, when it is $10; $13 for senior citizens (ages sixty-five-and-over), except on Wednesdays, when it is $9; and $10 for children (ages two-to-seventeen), except on Wednesdays, when it is $7. Babies and toddlers under two-years-old are free. Parking is free. Members always enter for free with valid credentials. The Morton Arboretum offers free general daily admission year-round to active-duty military servicemen and servicewomen with valid identification. It is a 2018 participant Blue Star Museums program. Pets are only welcome on specially designated days.
Click here to pre-purchase general daytime admission online. Visitors who purchase tickets this way will receive an e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org with a pdf file that will consist of a receipt and tickets. Each ticket purchased will be on a dedicated page and have its own barcode that needs to be scanned. These tickets can be printed out or displayed on a smartphone to be scanned. Tickets are valid for one year after the date of purchase.
The Morton Arboretum is open 365 days a year. The grounds are open from 7:00 a.m. to sunset. Click here to view 2018 Sunset Times. The Maze Garden is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to sunset.
The Visitor Center is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. during January and February, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during March and April, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. during May through October, and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. during November and December. Naturally, it is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. It closes at 3:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Restrooms are open in the West Pavilion of the Visitor Center from 7:00 a.m. to sunset.
The Children’s Garden is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. March through October (except on Thursdays when it is open until 6:00 p.m.). It is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from November through February. One of the benefits of being a member is that the Children’s Garden is open exclusively to members on Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Severe weather may cause The Morton Arboretum to temporarily close the Children’s Garden. Naturally, it is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. It closes at 3:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
The Arboretum Store is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. January and February, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. March and April, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. May through October, and from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. November and December. Naturally, it is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. It closes at 3:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
The Plant Clinic is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday April through October and from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday November through March. It is closed on New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, on Thanksgiving Day and the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.
The Ginkgo Restaurant is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. during the workweek and is open for breakfast from 9:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. on weekends. It is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
The Ginkgo Café is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. November through February, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. March and April, and from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. May through October. It is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day and closes early at 3:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
The Sterling Morton Library is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays, Mondays, New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.
The Thornhill Education Center is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. It is closed on New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day (and the Friday after Thanksgiving Day), Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and N
ew Year’s Eve. The Education Registration office phone number is (630) 719-2468.
The Founder’s Room, located at the Thornhill Education Center, is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. It is intermittently closed for rental events.
Click here for more information about admission and hours. The address is 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, Illinois 60532. The phone number is (630) 968-0074.
 Riva Feshbach, “Morton Arboretum,” The Encyclopedia of Chicago. James R. Grossman, Ann Durkin King, and Janice L. Reiff, editors. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press (2004), p. 543