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Illumination Frequently Asked Questions

Illumination Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

When is Illumination?
Saturday, November 23, through Sunday, January 5, 2020. Illumination tickets will be sold in 30-minute windows from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m., with the last entry at 8:30 p.m. Ticket purchasers should plan to arrive in the 30-minute window between their given time and the next entry time.

What days is Illumination closed?
November 25, 28 (Thanksgiving Day); December 2, 9, 16, 24 (Christmas Eve), and 25 (Christmas Day)

How can I purchase tickets to Illumination?
ONLINE: Buy tickets now! 
VISIT: In person at the Visitor Center during open hours
PHONE: 630-725-2066, Daily (excluding holidays) , 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. All phone orders and ticket exchanges incur a $5 transaction fee.  Sorry, same day phone orders cannot be accomodated.

Do I have to pay an additional fee for parking?
No. Parking is included in the Illumination ticket fee. Allow 10 to 15 minutes prior to your ticket time to park your car and make your way to the Illumination entrance outside the Visitor Center.

Are there any deals for Illumination?
Illumination is comparably priced to other lights events around the area, and Morton Arboretum members always receive a discount.

Museums for All
There are a limited number of weeknights (Monday through Thursday) available at a reduced rate to visitors with a state-issued EBT card (also known as a LINK card) or a valid WIC card, through the  Museums for All program. Tickets can be purchased online or in person, as long as the date is not sold out. When purchasing on site, purchasers are required to show a valid LINK or WIC card to receive the discounted rate. When purchasing online, purchasers will receive an email confirmation and will be required to show a valid LINK or WIC card to pick up their tickets the night of the event. Buy Museums for All Illumination tickets here >

ComEd Buy-one-get-one Free Offer (BOGO)
The ComEd BOGO offer has reached its limit and is no longer available. To purchase tickets at the lowest price, please consider becoming a member or attending on a standard evening. Buy tickets now >

How accessible is Illumination?
The Illumination trail is a one-mile paved walking path that includes a large incline approximately halfway through the exhibition (Ornament Hill), and several smaller inclines and declines. We advise guests to keep the length and hilly nature of the trail in mind. The exhibition is not fully accessible to visitors with limited mobility. Guests have the option to skip the second half of the exhibition, bypassing the large incline at Ornament Hill, by heading back toward the Visitor Center on the tram road. The Arboretum has a small number of non-motorized wheelchairs available free of charge in the Visitor Center. Guests must leave a driver’s license or other photo ID to check out a wheelchair. Because our supply is limited, we recommend bringing a wheelchair to the Arboretum, if needed. Arboretum staff make best efforts to clear the path of ice and snow. Crowds are generally lighter on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday making it easier to navigate the trail. Please be aware that Illumination features moving and flashing lights along the trail, in case a member of your party is sensitive to these effects. The Morton Arboretum welcomes visitors with service animals to Illumination. (However, please note, pets are not permitted at the Arboretum except on special dog admission days.) The exhibition is not visible by car.  See full accessibility details here >

Will we be able to park close to the entrance?
We offer parking near the entrance for those with a disability placard on their vehicle—as it will be dark outside, please notify the parking attendant as you drive in. Otherwise, parking is first come, first served, and is directed by parking attendants. Guests directed to secondary lots can take advantage of shuttle buses which will transport them to the main event area.  If you do not have a disability placard and someone in your party has mobility concerns, you are welcome to drop off passengers in our circle drive adjacent to the Visitor Center before you park.  Again, please notify our parking attendants and they will direct you accordingly.

How long is the Illumination trail? Do you have a map?
The Illumination trail is approximately one mile. View the map here. PDF icon Illumination Map 2019

Can I get a refund for my Illumination tickets?
Ticket purchases are non-refundable. We recommend that you choose your dates carefully, as all Illumination tickets are for a specific date and time and cannot be refunded.

What if I need to exchange my tickets for another night?
If the Arboretum cancels a night of Illumination (in whole or part), we will accommodate ticket holders according to the cancellation policy below. However, you may be able to exchange your tickets in advance, depending upon event capacity and at the discretion of the Arboretum. Same-day exchanges cannot be accommodated. There will be an exchange fee of $5 per transaction and, if necessary, an upgrade in ticket price to match the cost of a new ticket purchased for your new day and time.

What if Illumination is canceled due to weather?
Because Illumination is an outdoor event in winter, on very rare occasions we may cancel an evening. We consider many factors, including predictions from the National Weather Service, before making a decision that has an impact on so many people.

If we cancel an evening of Illumination, ticket purchasers will be notified via email, and notices will also be posted to the Arboretum’s homepage and Facebook and Twitter feeds. We will honor tickets on alternate nights, schedule permitting. For more information, call our ticket line at 630-725-2066 between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on any day (except holidays and days we are closed due to weather).

Can I enter/use the Arboretum before the time on my ticket?
Arboretum roads will close prior to 3:00 p.m. as we prepare for Illumination. The Morton Arboretum Visitor Center will close at 4, and will re-open at 4:30 for the Illumination event. Ticketholders will not be able to access the Visitor Center until the time listed on their ticket.

What food and beverages are available for purchase?
A full dining and beverage menu is available inside the Visitor Center at the Ginkgo Restaurant and Café, including sandwiches, salads, and soups, along with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Snacks and hot beverages (with optional cordials) are available for purchase in two concession locations along the Illumination path.PDF iconDinner menu (PDF)

I love to walk/snowshoe at the Arboretum every winter. Can I still do that during Illumination?
On days with three or more inches of snow, we invite you to snowshoe or cross-country ski at the Arboretum during our usual daylight hours. During Illumination, the entire east side of the Arboretum will close to Arboretum visitors at 3:00 p.m. to allow us to open Illumination each evening at 4:30 p.m. Likewise, rentals will close at 3:00 p.m. However, those with their own snowshoes or skis may enjoy the many trails on the west side of the Arboretum until sunset.