With the leaves in brilliant colors, October is the heart of the fall season and an ideal time to visit the Morton Arboretum. The beauty and vibrant hues of the Arboretum’s trees and landscapes provide a magnificent atmosphere for visitors to enjoy a full lineup of Fall Color Festival events.
Kicking off the month-long celebration of the season is the Fall Color 5K Run and Walk on October 6. On October 9, the beloved Glass Pumpkin Patch returns, and the Cider and Ale Festival on October 19 offers adult visitors an opportunity to indulge in the tastes of the season. Throughout the month, families can enjoy the last Walking Play of the year, The Sherlock Scandal, or take part in year-round favorites such as Garden Story Time. And October would not be complete without Halloween-themed activities including Trick or Trees and the Boo Breakfast.
A complete list of October events is below. For more information, visit mortonarb.org/events. All prices listed are for the general public. Information is accurate as of the date of this release. Please check the Arboretum’s website prior to publication as times and dates may change.
Fall Color 5K Run and Walk
Sunday, October 6, 8:00 a.m.
8:00 a.m. 5K starting time
9:30 a.m. Kids Dash starting time
Standard Registration: $45.00
Race Day Registration: $55.00
Kids Dash Registration: $15.00
Virtual Runner: $25.00
Satisfy your inner champion by taking part in the Arboretum’s 16th annual Fall Color 5K Run and Walk. Participants will enjoy a scenic, rolling course through the crisp autumn air. Event highlights include race T-shirts and admission to a post-race party featuring live music and a complimentary Arbor Oak beer for participants over age 21. The Kids Dash will feature varying race lengths for children ages 2 to 10 years old.
Daily in October, 7:00 a.m. to sunset
Free with Arboretum admission
Take a stroll around Meadow Lake to view nature-themed scarecrows created by local Scout troops.
NEW! Walking Plays: The Sherlock Scandal
Saturdays and Sundays, October 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27, 3:00 p.m.
Adult $20.00; Child $15.00
A new time-period twisted take on the beloved Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tales! Based on “Scandal in Bohemia,” the story unfolds as the detectives find themselves involved in solving a blackmail scandal with a notorious rock star and his fiance. With the help of Inspector Lestrade, they work the mystery and tell the tale of their own interesting pasts. Surprises abound! Please note that this performance is for ages 10+. The performance includes mature content, mild violence and mentions of death. Hike is roughly one mile in distance.
Trick or Trees
Weekends in October, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Play tricky games, fashion fun fall crafts, and plant a tree seed to take home as your treat. Small pumpkins to paint will also be available for purchase.
Glass Pumpkin Patch
Wednesday, October 9, to Sunday, October 13
Free with Arboretum admission
Watch daily demonstrations by featured glassblower Shannon Jane Morgan and other artists, as they dramatically turn bits of glass into stunning molten pumpkin creations. Narrators will take you step-by-step through the process as talented artists demonstrate this ancient art form.
October 9 and 10, 10:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. and October 11, 10:00 a.m. to 12:59 p.m.
View over 6,000 pieces of glass from almost 20 different artists.
Glass Pumpkin Sale
Pumpkins go on sale at 1:00 p.m. on October 11. Sales continue through the weekend each day from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Family Jack-O’-Lantern Hike
Saturdays and Sundays, October 5, 6, 12, or 13 (Start times vary for this evening event.)
Join a family-friendly hike illuminated by jack-o’-lanterns to explore the nightlife of owls, bats and spiders at The Morton Arboretum. Then roast marshmallows over a fire and decorate pumpkins.
Cider and Ale Festival
Saturday, October 19, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. (rain or shine), VIP admission at noon
General Admission: $55.00
VIP Entry: $75.00
Designated Driver: $15.00
*tickets purchased at the door are an additional $5.00.
Sample ciders and seasonal beers in the midst of rich fall color at the Cider and Ale Festival. Sip on local favorites and explore new ciders and craft beers while listening to live music and enjoying the beautiful surroundings. Please note: This event is for adults over 21, and a valid ID is required for entry. Infants and children are not permitted.
Fall Foliage Walking Tour
Saturday, October 19, 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. or Saturday, November 2, 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Enjoy a brisk autumn walk and take in the changing colors of The Morton Arboretum’s trees with the Arboretum’s forest ecologist, Christine Rollinson. View fall color while learning about the science behind the seasonal changes that trees go through each year.
Sunday, October 27, 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the Ginkgo Restaurant
Jump-start Halloween festivities with Boo Breakfast at The Morton Arboretum. Enjoy a breakfast buffet complete with visits from favorite characters. Costumes encouraged.
Daily, 7:00 a.m. to sunset
Free with Arboretum admission
Marvel at these 15- to 30-foot-tall colossal trolls crafted from reclaimed wood by Danish artist Thomas Dambo. Don’t miss the opportunity to seek out these mysterious creatures in the changing seasons.
Children’s Garden Programs
Garden Story Time
Fridays in October, 11:00 a.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Gather for a nature-based story time and activities in the Children’s Garden.
Little Acorns (18 to 35 months)
Monday, October 7, Thursday, October 17, and Wednesday, October 23; 9:30 to 10:45 a.m.
Little Sprouts (3 to 5 years)
Wednesday, October 9; Tuesday, October 15; Monday, October 21, 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.
Young explorers will hike, play, listen to stories, and engage in science and art in these hands-on sensory-based programs. Adult must accompany child.
Youth and Family Programs
Family Explorers Backpack
Daily, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
$5.00 plus admission
Enhance a visit by renting a family backpack, which includes science tools, guides and fun props for a self-guided exploration of nature as a family.
Acorn Express Adventures
Tuesdays in October, 1:00 p.m.; Wednesdays and Fridays in October, 11:00 a.m.
$5.00 plus admission
Seek out fun destinations to hike, make a craft, and explore new topics each week on this family-friendly tram ride adventure through the Arboretum.
Sunday, October 13, 8:45 to 9:30 a.m.
Included in Arboretum admission; registration required.
Sensory-Friendly Sundays offer the opportunity for families with sensory needs to experience a less- crowded Children’s Garden with minimal noise. Participants are welcome to stay once the Children’s Garden opens to the public at 9:30 a.m.
Gardening and Horticulture
Shrubs for the Illinois Garden
Wednesday, October 23, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Discover the best shrubs and multi-stem trees for the Chicago region. Learn planting and maintenance to promote shrub health, such as creating healthy soil and basic pruning tips.
Fall Pumpkin Arrangement
Thursday, October 24, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., or Saturday, October 26, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Fill a hollowed-out pumpkin with fresh flowers and greens using tried-and-true floral design techniques. All materials included.
Birds and Wildlife
Saturday, October 19, 8:00 to 10:30 a.m.
Take a walk with an expert guide to locate and identify bird species in the woods, fields and edges of the Arboretum. See how things change each month and season--no walk is the same!
Trees and Nature
If These Trees Could Talk: Untold Tales of The Morton Arboretum
Thursdays, October 3 and 17, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
The Arboretum is famous for many things, including trees, trolls, and winter lights. However, in the years since the Arboretum was founded in 1922, and as Joy Morton's original 175 acres grew to 1700 acres, many less famous stories have been hidden in the landscape. This program will share some of those hidden tales, from people who have spent the most time collecting them.
Weekend Nature Retreat
Saturday, October 5, and Sunday, October 6, 4:00 p.m. on Saturday through noon on Sunday
Connect with trees and nature and spend a night under the stars on the beautiful grounds of the Arboretum during this adults-only nature retreat. For those new to camping, the Arboretum provides a safe and quiet place to experience the outdoors.
A Cultural History of Trees in America
Wednesdays, October 9 and 16, 9:30 a.m. to noon
From industry and economics, to politics and war, to culture and literature, trees are an indispensable part of America. Participate in a lively discussion and see American history through its trees including orange groves, American chestnut, and ginkgo, a special tree at the Arboretum.
Basic Tree ID
Wednesday, October 9, or Saturday, October 12, 8:30 to 11:00 a.m.
Use characteristics such as leaves, bark, branches, and fruit to identify common trees in neighborhoods or local preserves. Learn to use keys and field guides, as well as see and understand natural surroundings in a new way.
Rare Habitats Tour: Cemetery Prairie
Saturday, October 12, 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m.
Most of the original 22 million acres of tallgrass prairie in Illinois is now farmland. Visit a large nature preserve in McLean County to observe high- quality prairie remnants, and learn why they occur in pioneer cemeteries and are now protected as nature preserves in Illinois.
Nature Writing Workshop (Online and In-Person)
Online component available Wednesday, October 16
In-person classes meet Wednesdays, October 23, November 6, and November 20, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Learn the nuts and bolts of excellent nature writing and improve your wordsmithing skills in this blended online and in-person course.
Whiskey Walks (Ages 21+)
Saturday, October 26, noon to 1:30 p.m., 1:00 to 2:30 p.m., or 2:00 to 3:30 p.m.
During this 45-minute guided hike, learn how to identify types of oaks, why they’re an important part of our local woodlands, and why they’re so good for the barrels used to produce whiskey. After the hike, learn the history, lore, and distilling process while quenching your thirst with a whiskey tasting hosted by DeKalb distillery Whiskey Acres.
Guided Paddle: Fall Foliage at Busse Woods
Saturday, October 19, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Escape in a kayak to experience the vivid colors of fall from the waters of the Ned Brown Preserve in Busse Woods. Guides will share interesting facts about the area's history and surrounding wildlife.
Nature Art and Photography
Fall Landscapes in Pastel with Laverne Bohlin
Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Head out onto the grounds for a two-day fall workshop on color values to capture the transitioning colors of leaves with pastel artist Laverne Bohlin.
DIY Fall Garden Flag
Sunday, October 6, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Learn techniques to paint and stencil a design, then add texture and interest with collage on a rustic-chic burlap flag.
Visiting Artist Series: Glass Pumpkin Workshops
Monday through Friday, October 7 through October 11, 8:00 a.m. to noon
Guided by an expert glass artist, learn to work with molten glass and how to safely heat, shape, and add color to create a glass pumpkin paperweight.
Abstract Nature Photography
Three days: Two Wednesdays, October 9 and 16, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 12, 7:00 to 10:00 a.m.
Create beautiful abstract images with nature and glass. Learn techniques and use simple tools to stir the imagination, practice the art of seeing, and compose expressive abstract photographs.
Jewelry Making: Pumpkins and Gourds
Two Thursdays, October 10 and 17, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Learn to condition and layer polymer clay with colors and inclusions and sculpt three-dimensional pumpkin and gourd pendants.
Glass Mosaics: Autumn Birch Tree
Sunday, October 13, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Learn about the effects that transparency, light, and color create with mosaic on glass. Complete a 5-by-7-inch framed, clear-glass base that will convey the beauty and qualities of stained glass, but with mosaic techniques.
Intro to Colored Pencil
Four Fridays, October 18 through November 8, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Learn the fundamentals of working with colored pencil to create images of nature.
Drawing Nature II
Four Saturdays, October 19, 26, November 2, 16 (no class November 9), 9:00 a.m. to noon
Use botanical specimens from the Arboretum’s grounds to learn how to achieve depth or distance in drawing using atmospheric perspective. Practice shading and shadows, work on contouring and achieving a continuous tone, and continue to develop hand-eye coordination.
Nature Photography: In the Footsteps of Henri Cartier-Bresson
Five days: three Wednesdays, October 23 through November 6, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., and two Saturdays, October 26 and November 2, 8:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Learn to apply Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” concepts to nature photography; as plants bloom, the tides come and go, or clouds or reflections enhance a scene. Explore the use of the decisive moment to enhance nature compositions. Train the eye and brain to anticipate the evolving scene. Students will spend time in the classroom learning the concepts, have two field sessions to apply them, and participate in a critique session.
Fall Photography Walking Tour
Saturday, October 26, 8:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Begin with a brief classroom session in which the instructor will share examples of fundamental elements of photography such as light, angle, subject, and creative interpretation. Then head out onto the grounds to learn how to capture it with a camera.
Basic Nature Photography
Four Sundays, October 27 through November 17, noon to 3:00 p.m.
Move beyond shooting in automatic and learn basic composition and editing techniques using a camera’s manual settings. The course includes classroom instruction, in-field shooting, and a critique session.
Autumn Textures in Graphite
Four Thursdays, October 31 through November 21, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Capture curled leaves and seed pods--the perfect textures for graphite. This intermediate class will build upon foundational skills in graphite, focusing on the textures found in late fall.
Forest Therapy Walks
Experience the healing and wellness-promoting effects of shinrin-yoku, the practice of bathing the senses in the atmosphere of the forest.
Saturday, October 5, or Monday, October 7, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Monday, October 21, or Saturday, October 26, 9:30 to 11:15 a.m.
Meditation with Essential Oils
Thursday, October 10, or Thursday, October 24, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Explore meditative and self-nurturing yoga poses with the use of plant-based essential oils to restore and rebalance the mind and body.
Aerial Tree Yoga
Mondays, October 7 or 21, 6:00 to7:00 p.m
Fridays, October 11 or 25, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Stretch, strengthen, and release stress while having fun, cocooned in a hammock suspended from trees. Aerial yoga offers wonderful benefits to the mind, body, and soul, and is suitable for beginners as well as experienced yogis.
Beginning Home Composting
Thursday, October 17, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Learn how to turn yard waste and kitchen scraps into wonderfully rich, free compost—black gold for the garden. Discover the basics of backyard composting and composting with worms. Learn how composting improves the structure and texture of the soil, enabling it to better retain nutrients, moisture, and air around plant roots.
Arboretum Yoga with Live Soundscape
Thursday, October 17, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Practice yoga aided by the powerful resonance of the gong to support re-harmonizing the body on a cellular level.
Mondays, October 21 through November 18, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. or Wednesdays, October 16 through November 13, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
$18.00 per class, $80.00 for a series
Practice yoga poses, breathing, and meditation in the tranquil setting of the Arboretum.
Fall Food Series: Plant-Based Eating
In this four-week series, nutrition experts will explore the benefits of focusing on plant-based diets, share nutritious recipes that are satisfyingly delicious and teach attendees easy ways to incorporate plant-based meals into their diet.
Plant-based Nutrition 101
Saturday, October 19, 10:00 a.m. to noon
Learn how food choices affect our health, and how a plant-based diet can prevent and reverse common health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Taste sample recipes that you can make at home.
The Power of Plant Protein
Saturday, October 26, 10:00 a.m. to noon
In this hands-on workshop, discover how a plant-centered diet can contribute to heart health, weight control, and diabetes risk reduction. Taste samples, prepare a salad to take home and learn easy ways to incorporate vegetable protein into weekly meals.
Plant-Based Eating for People on the Go
Saturday, November 2, 10:00 a.m. to noon
In this evidence-based, hands-on workshop, learn how to survive and thrive on a plant-based diet, no matter how busy life gets. Wellness consultant and Food for Life instructor Betsy Bruns will share meal-planning tips and simple but satisfying recipes so to easily incorporate plant-based meals into a daily routine. Prepare a simple recipe to take home.
Meatless Mondays: The Difference a Day Can Make
Saturday, November 9, 10:00 a.m. to noon
Find out why many Americans are now switching to plant-based ingredients in their diets for their personal health and the health of the planet. Evey Schweig, Health Coach, will discuss the health and environmental benefits that a few simple meal changes can make, even if just once a week. Sample delicious vegetarian dishes with simple recipes to try at home.
The Natural Areas Conservation Training (N-ACT) Program provides in-depth training and certification program in natural areas restoration. Classes are easy to fit into a busy lifestyle, and include online, classroom, and field components. The program is open to anyone involved or interested in the stewardship of our natural heritage, regardless of prior experience.
Chicago Wilderness Burn Crew Training
Thursday, October 3, and Friday, October 4, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Based on the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s courses, this training covers the basics of fire behavior, controlled burn techniques, and smoke management. Participants will gain the background necessary to safely participate on the crew of a controlled burn.
Woodland Trees (Online and In-Person)
Online component begins: Thursday, October 3
In-person component: Friday, October 11, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Learn to identify the trees you see every day in the woodlands and neighborhoods of the Chicago region as you enjoy their brilliant fall colors. Explore the ecology of the various tree species and find out why they grow in each habitat.
Basic Plant ID
Saturday, October 12, 12:30 to 3:00 p.m.
Whether you are a gardener, naturalist, artist, natural resources specialist, or volunteer, this class provides the fundamentals you need to get started. Attend a two-hour session at the Arboretum to learn botanical vocabulary and plant ID skills with the guidance of an Arboretum plant expert. Online course option available.
Tool Use for Natural Areas Management (Online and In-Person)
Registration closes: Monday, October 14
Tuesday, October 15: Online materials become available
In-person: Tuesday, October 22, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m
Learn to effectively and efficiently use the tools of the trade to tackle different restoration jobs as well as learn about the tools, pick the right tools for the right tasks, and learn to use the different tools safely.
Intro to Ecological Restoration (Online and In-Person)
Registration closes: Tuesday, October 15
Online component: Wednesday, October 16
In-person component: Saturday, October 26, and Saturday, November 2, 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Discover the principles and practice of ecosystem restoration practices for recovering forests, grasslands, and other ecosystems that have been degraded.
Natural Areas Management (Online and In-Person)
Registration closes: Wednesday, October 16
Online component begins: Thursday, October 17
In-Person component: Sunday, October 27, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at Lake in the Hills Fen and Saturday, November 9, at Pleasant Valley conservation area, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Remnant and restored natural areas act as reservoirs for plant, animal, and insect diversity. Join us as we visit a variety of managed ecosystems to discuss current conservation challenges and strategies with site managers and volunteer stewards.
Ecosystem Concepts (Online and In-Person)
Registration closes: Monday, October 28
Online component begins: Tuesday, October 29
In-Person component: November 3, 9:00 a.m. to1:00 p.m.
Explore the interactions that drive ecosystem function and learn to identify plants, animals, and fungi in relation to ecological habitats. By developing knowledge of ecological food webs and species interdependence, you will gain a better understanding of how to manage natural areas to support biodiversity.
Natural Areas Conservation Training Orientation (Online or In-person)
Tuesday, October 29, 2019, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
No Fee. Class registration for in-person sessions includes admission to the Arboretum.
Receive information on how to volunteer to help make a difference in the woodlands, prairies, and wetlands in your community and at the Arboretum.