Friday, November 21, 2014

The Morton Arboretum Illumination {spon}

Last week we my boys and I had the opportunity to attend a behind the scenes event at The Morton Arboretum for their Illumination experience.

Hailed as a "must-see event" by the media in its debut season last year, Illumination brings lights and nature together to transform a wintertime walk in the woods into an awe-inspiring experience.  From November 21 - January 3, walk a mile-long path to marvel at trees illuminate in colors (every color is represented), and interact with lighted trees that respond to voice and touch.
On the Illumination trail, sing to trees to make them change color and hug trees to see how they respond, then warm up at one of the toasty fire pits.  Or stop at the warming tent to grab a snack and a warm beverage.

And - The Morton Arboretum listened to all of you suggestions last year and has updated this years event by offering not only more kid-friendly features, but also. more live entertainment.

One of the cool things to point out is that they have a multi-tier microphone at Tree Harmony.  This will allow different family members to sign to the trees, interacting with the lights, to make them change colors.

Some neat things to note
-this is the 2nd year that Illumination will be taking place
-last year, over 88,000 visitors experienced Illumination
-the Illumination path (which is a one-mile walking trail) includes more than 1,000 trees
-there are more than 390 carefully-placed LED and Arc lighting fixtures used
-20 miles of cable connects and coordinates the lights

We found out from John Featherston of Lightswitch that they started planning for the 2014 Illumination event about 1 week after the 2013 Illumination event closed.

Illumination is open each night at 5pm and runs until 9:30pm, with the last entry at 8:30pm.  Tickets are available at, the Arboretum's Visitor Service Desk or by calling 630-719-2066.
The calendar of events happening during Illumination can be found here.

We got to meet with John and were given a behind the scenes peek at how they try to immerse visitors into the Illumination experience.

When planning out the lights for Illumination, they were in agreement that they did not want this

But, rather, something like this - to highlight and showcase the trees instead of using them as a frame to hold lights

We had a lot of fun walking around a portion of the Illumination path with John and members of The Morton Arboretum team.

And, John was wonderful answering all of Cody and Chris's questions about the process and how they become lighting designers.

The boys and I all agreed that Illumination was a really cool experience.  We are very excited to go back and walk the entire 1 mile path and see the entire event.

I found the path to be easy to walk with Will in the back carrier and would likely not use a stroller when we return.  Definitely dress for the weather!  Even though there are fire pits and warming tents located along the path, dress appropriately - and wear walking shoes or hiking boots, forget heels with this one.

I was fortunate to host a giveaway on the blog for 4 passes to Illumination.  I truly hope that the winner will enjoy the event as much as I did with just a sneak peek. 

*the opinions are mine alone.  I attended a blogger event at the Morton Arboretum for a sneak peek at this years Illumination event.  I received 4 passes to return with my family at a later date, and we were treated to warm beverages and cookies while there*.  

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