Hug a tree and it changes color. Stand in front of the camera and see your face projected high into the trees. With a wave of your hand you create the illusion of snow or rain. The holiday lights at the Morton Arboretum aren’t your run-of-the-mill look-but-don’t-touch lights. Illumination is an interactive display that responds to sound and to touch. Morton Arboretum’s first lights event in its 91-year history was unveiled at a sneak preview on Thursday, November 21. Illumination is an event that allows guests to “see trees in a different light,” said Dr. Jerry Donnelly, President and CEO of The Morton Arboretum.

Two years in the making, Morton Arboretum partnered with top lighting designer Lightswitch, the same company that developed the Fremont Street experience in Las Vegas, to create a unique lighting experience. Follow the mile-long trail around Meadow Lake and Conifer Walk to the various interactive stations. Sing to the trees at Tree Harmony and watch them brighten up at the sound of your voice. Different pitched voices create different colors, so when a group of people sing, the trees are at their most brilliant. At the Island of Light, wave your hand above the sensor, and watch the trees change from blues and greens to oranges and reds. On cold evenings you can warm up around fire pits sipping a cup of hot chocolate or enjoying make-your-own s’mores.

In keeping with Morton Arboretum’s goal to encourage the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier and more beautiful world, Illuminations is not only a cool lights experience, it’s ecologically sound, too. The LED lights used throughout the display use no more electricity than is used by three houses.

Morton Arboretum, one of the world’s leading arboretums, is located at 4100 Illinois Route 53 in Lisle, Illinois. Illumination opens to the public on November 22 and runs through January 4. Hours begin at 4:30 p.m., and the last entry is at 8:30 p.m. Illumination will be closed on November 28 and December 2, 9, 16, 24 and 25. Admission for nonmembers is $15 for adults and $10 for children 2 to 17 years old.