Environments | Themed Attractions | Morton Arboretum |

Illumination 2016

The Morton Arboretum | Lisle, IL | 2016

A festive extravaganza of light and sound, the award-winning “Illumination” returned to The Morton Arboretum for the 2016 winter season

What It Was

A festive extravaganza of light and sound, the award-winning “Illumination” returned to The Morton Arboretum for the 2016 winter season. “Illumination” transformed the grounds of the Arboretum into a winter wonderland with brilliant light-and-music shows and entertaining, interactive experiences that celebrate nature’s beauty. Now in its fourth year, the show has become a beloved holiday tradition and has garnered national recognition for its innovative re-imagination of traditional holiday lighting.

What We Did

Our original goal for “Illumination” was simple: Let guests see trees in a different light. Over the years, we’ve stayed true to that objective, while striving to create bigger, better and more immersive experiences. Based on visitor feedback from previous shows, we unveiled several new experiences designed to surprise and delight guests in 2016. Treemagination uses projection mapping to make a grove of hemlock trees come to life; one effect makes them appear to breathe, while another saturates them in richly colored hues. We also re-envisioned the closing experience. In the all-new Fantasy Forest, light dances across polished abstract “trees” to the tune of a specially composed piece contemporary music, leaving guests with magical memories to take with them.

Why It Worked

More than 350,000 visitors enjoyed “Illumination” in its first three seasons, substantially increasing winter attendance at the Arboretum and drawing new guests from around the world. Other botanical gardens have taken note of its success. In 2015, Lightswitch was commissioned to design a new winter season experience for Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles, which opened in 2016. Photos by Austin Shapley and Benjamin Roy