Archive for the ‘Chicagoland’ Category
The Morton Arboretum ushers in the season with fall colors from around the world, fun fall activities
This fall, The Morton Arboretum’s 1,700 acres of trees will again reveal stunning colors, expected to draw thousands of leaf-peepers from around the region. The Arboretum’s collection includes trees from 40 different countries, for intense fall color that visitors can’t see anywhere else in the area. Visitors this October can also enjoy tasty fall food and see the Scarecrow Trail, a series of scarecrows created by local Boy and Girl Scouts.
The trees at the Arboretum generally start to change color in mid-September, with the most variety in the first to the third weeks of October. The Arboretum’s official Fall Color Scout, Ed Hedborn, has been monitoring fall color changes at the Arboretum for nearly four decades and will again offer his weekly fall color updates starting in September on the Arboretum’s website, mortonarb.org.
“Color here may come earlier than usual this year, as our trees are still recovering from last year’s drought,” said Hedborn. “Regardless of when we start to see changes, the Arboretum is a fantastic destination for fall color fans, thanks to our unique collection of trees from around the world.”
Fall Color Viewing Tips
The Morton Arboretum is particularly beautiful in the fall, with a greater variety of autumnal colors than anywhere else in the region, thanks to its international collection of trees and plants. Following are some of Hedborn’s fall color viewing tips:
• Smooth Sumac and Staghorn Sumac, which turn bright red, are some of the earliest Arboretum plants to turn color, generally peaking in mid-September. Arboretum color can last until November, when the Asiatic Pear trees peak.
• Sugar Maples, with their vivid fall colors, are the most popular Arboretum tree for fall color.
• The Arboretum’s Asian plants change color at similar times to the North American plants, because of similar climate.
• The Arboretum’s European tree collection stays green longer, as they’re acclimated to the more moderate European climate.
• Top color viewing spots include the Arboretum’s East Woods, the Maple and Oak Collections and Sterling Pond, where visitors can see the fall colors reflected in the water.
• A sunny day isn’t always the best day to come see the colors – fall colors are actually more vivid in cloudy weather.
Fall Color Festival
Throughout the month of October, visitors can enjoy juicy brats, build-your-own taffy apples and other mouth-watering bites available for purchase in Arbor Court. Plus, sample complimentary wine tastings. The festival will be open weekends in October and Columbus Day, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Fall Color Festival kicks off with the 10th annual Fall Color 5K Run & Walk and Kid’s Dash on Sunday, October 6. Additionally, Scarecrow Trail will be back around Meadow Lake, with nature-based scarecrows created by local Girl and Boy Scout Troops. Open daily in October, 7 a.m. to sunset.
This holiday season, The Morton Arboretum’s trees will be transformed into an interactive kaleidoscope of color and light during its first-ever winter lights event, Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum. From November 22, 2013 to January 4, 2014, Illumination offers a holiday experience far beyond traditional twinkling lights, engaging the senses with dazzling projections, trees that respond to touch and sound, and vivid, electric colors throughout.
Combining cutting-edge light technology with the wooded landscape of the Arboretum, Illumination is not your typical holiday light show. The first event of its kind in the Chicago area, Illumination takes visitors on a mile-long, paved walking trail winding around the Arboretum’s Meadow Lake and down its Conifer Walk, with surprising light experiences around every turn.
“Illumination will be a spectacular lighting exhibition, showcasing the Arboretum’s trees with state of the art technology, vibrant colors, and interactive elements that reveal the awe-inspiring beauty and form of trees in winter,” said Dr. Gerard T. Donnelly, President and CEO of The Morton Arboretum. “It offers a whole new way to see, enjoy and appreciate trees at this magical time of year, especially after dark.”
Built in partnership with top experiential lighting designers Lightswitch, Illumination at The Morton Arboretum features energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly LED lighting. This lighting provides beautiful, powerful color while consuming only half the power of traditional incandescent lights.
ComEd and BMO Harris Bank are presenting sponsors of Illumination.
The Illumination Experience
Visitors will begin their journey with a view across Meadow Lake, where projection technology turns a majestic tableau of 50-foot tall evergreens into a giant screen for a series of moving images that trick the eyes.
Walking along Meadow Lake, guests will find a space filled with Shadow Lanterns, gently moving in the wind, creating shimmering patterns of light and shadow on visitors and trees.
Moving on, visitors will walk through the Tinsel Colonnade, where bright strands of colorful light glimmer brightly from the branches like tinsel on the trees.
As visitors head up the Conifer Walk, they will encounter Harmony Trees, black walnut trees bathed from all sides with vivid, saturated light that makes them appear to shift and move. On closer inspection, guests will discover the lights are responding to the sound of their voices and they’re invited to sing and call out to the trees to make them glow brighter.
Moving on to the top of Frost Hill – one of the highest points at the Arboretum – visitors are immersed in an incandescent glow as they gaze at a series of Crystal Chandeliers, a series of crystal chandeliers suspended within a grove of trees. From there, guests can turn to enjoy the grand vista of the iconic Four Columns sculptures, which appear to gently rotate.
Next, it’s on to the Island of Light, a tree island on which visitors control the projection of color and brightness of lights.
Continuing down the Conifer Walk, visitors encounter the Personalitrees, two different experiences that let visitors create their own light show on a tableau of towering evergreens. In one, guests can move their hands over a sensor to conduct a 30-foot-high display of falling snowflakes, flower petals or leaves projected onto a grove of evergreens. The other allows guests of any age to look into a camera and see their own image, in a giant projection on the trees.
Simply hugging a tree can bring joy to anyone, but what if the tree responded? Hug A Tree invites guests to interact directly with nature by hugging a tree, with a twist. Each of the three huggable trees controls the lighting of the entire grove in a different way. The first tree controls brightness, the second changes the color and the third affects how quickly the light shifts from tree to tree.
Walking back toward Arbor Court, pencil beams of light shift horizontally and vertically, penetrating the night sky and outlining the geometry of the Hedge Garden.
Along the walking trail, guests will be able to rest and refresh at three concession areas, including a make-your-own s’mores station, and outdoor fire pits to help visitors warm up by the firelight. Special event nights will include musical groups, children’s activities and more. An updated calendar of events will be available at mortonarb.org/illumination. In addition, visitors can stop by the Enchanted Railroad, an intricate model train traveling through an indoor winter wonderland at the Visitor Center. In its 12th year, the Enchanted Railroad is a popular holiday-themed display from the LGB Model Railroad Club.
Event Dates and Ticket Prices
Illumination will be open from November 22 through January 4. The event opens each night at 4:30 p.m. with the last entry at 8:30 p.m. Illumination will be closed on November 28 and December 2, 9, 16, 24 and 25.
Event tickets go on sale October 1 at mortonarb.org/illumination, and advance purchase is encouraged. Nonmember ticket prices are $15 for adults and $10 for children 2 to 17 years old. For Arboretum members, prices are $10 for adults and $5 for children 2 to 17 years old. The event is free for children under 2. Visitors are encouraged to dress for the weather as this is an outdoor experience.