2020 Calendar of Events

Julie McCaffrey
jmccaffrey@chicagobotanic.org                
(847) 835-8213

Release Date: 
Wednesday, July 29, 2020

2020 Calendar of Events

There’s always something happening at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Because of the COVID-19 health crisis, preregistration is required for all visitors – including Garden members – until further notice, and we have canceled, modified, or postponed some programs and exhibitions at the Garden this year. This list of events will be updated as we get new information. Please check back if you have any questions about a particular event and visit https://www.chicagobotanic.org/visit/know_before_you_go for more information.

JANUARY

Winter Walk in the McDonald Woods – Sunday, January 12, and Sunday, February 9 (2 p.m.)
Bundle up, get outside, and go on a nature walk. Warm up by the fire afterward. Meet at the McDonald Woods Shelter for a guided, 40-minute trek. No reservations necessary. If the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, we will post a cancellation notice on the Garden’s website.

Weekend Family Class: Loco for Cocoa! – Sunday, January 12, and Saturday, January 25 (9:30 to 11 a.m. or 1 to 2:30 p.m.)
Discover the sweet story of chocolate, from bitter bean to delicious dessert. Participants will investigate the raw ingredients, taste test different types of chocolate, and practice dipping fruits and snacks into melted chocolate to make treats enjoyable. Weekend Family Classes bring adults and children together to explore cool things about how plants connect science, art, history, and culture. Each program includes a variety of hands-on activities and projects, as well as opportunities to bring the Garden home. 

Library Exhibition – Illustrated Orchids in Radiant Color – Friday, January 17, through Sunday, April 12
This rare book exhibition in the Lenhardt Library features beautifully brilliant and colorful orchid illustrations. Hours are from noon to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Free library talks will be held on Sunday, February 9, and Thursday, March 5, at 2 p.m.

Camp CBG registration begins – Tuesday, January 21
Camp CBG provides children ages 6 months to 12 years with exciting and enriching learning experiences. The Garden offers weeklong camps with morning, afternoon, and all-day options (one and two weeks). The majority of the camp day is spent outside, weather permitting. Visit chicagobotanic.org/camp to register for Camp CBG.

Nature Preschool registration begins – Tuesday, January 21
The Chicago Botanic Garden’s nature-based, developmentally appropriate preschool provides a unique learning experience for 3- to 5-year-olds. The emergent curriculum focuses on exploration and discovery in nature each day. The curriculum promotes learning and prepares children for kindergarten as they develop an appreciation for the natural world. Visit chicagobotanic.org/preschool to register for Nature Preschool.

Story Time in the Lenhardt Library – Wednesdays, January 22 through March 20 (10 to 11 a.m.)
Children are invited to enjoy nature-themed activities and stories on Wednesday mornings in the Lenhardt Library. Story time activities include songs, games, crafts, and free play. Program is geared for children ages 2 to 5, accompanied by a caregiver.

Super Seed Weekend – Saturday, January 25, and Sunday, January 26
The ninth annual Super Seed Weekend returns, with a weekend full of how-to demonstrations and gardening information, ending with a lively Seed Swap on Sunday afternoon. Saturday features fee-based classes and workshops, like Organic Vegetable Gardening Basics, Planning Your Garden for Seed Saving, and a Seed Cleaning and Storing Workshop. Preregister for our behind-the-scenes tours of the Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank on Saturday at 10 and 11 a.m. Sunday begins with a Seed Starting Intensive class at 9 a.m. and continues with a lecture at 1:30 p.m. by John Coykendall, master gardener of Blackberry Farm. The swap takes place from 3 to 5 p.m., filling Burnstein Hall with enthusiastic seed swapping and advice sharing. Gardeners are invited to bring saved and leftover seeds to swap, though it’s not required. There will also be a family program, Loco for Cocoa, offered on Sunday. The Seed Swap is one of our most popular gardening events of the year, and a highlight of our winter calendar. Visit chicagobotanic.org/seedswap for more information.

Seed Library – Sunday, January 29, through Friday, March 29
Stop by the Lenhardt Library to “borrow” seeds to plant, grow, harvest and save. At harvest time, save seeds for yourself, and return some to the Seed Library for others to “borrow” next season. With the borrowed seeds, you also receive resources on seed growing, harvesting, and saving. Hours are from noon to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. 

FEBRUARY

Weekend Family Class: Sweet Treats: Cold Eats – Sunday, February 2, and Saturday, February 15 (9:30 to 11 a.m. or 1 to 2:30 p.m.)
Many of our favorite cold sweet treats get their flavors from plants. Vanilla comes from an orchid and fruits grow on bushes, trees, or vines. In this class, participants will put together (and taste!) some easy-to-make fruity treats like smoothies and flavored shaved ice and get recipes to make at home. Weekend Family Classes bring adults and children together to explore cool things about how plants connect science, art, history, and culture. Each program includes a variety of hands-on activities and projects, as well as opportunities to bring the Garden home.

The Orchid Show – Saturday, February 8, through Sunday, March 22 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Friday, February 14)
The 2020 Orchid Show features a modern world of living color with 10,000 brilliant blooms used in engaging and energizing ways. Visitors will find the Regenstein Center transformed with floor-to-ceiling artistic installations, including a towering canopy of color, a floating carpet, and a dramatic chandelier filled with colorful blooms. Interpretation will illuminate the brilliant survival strategies of wild orchids that use color to attract pollinators. Enjoy musical events like Morning Music with Orchids on Tuesdays and Thursdays while surrounded by the beauty of the Orchid Show. Don’t miss Orchids After Hours on Thursdays and on Friday, February 14—enjoy the orchids in the evening with cocktails and light fare available for purchase. An orchid marketplace takes place every Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for the Orchid Show are: Adults $14 nonmember/$12 members; children (3–12 years) and seniors (62 years and up) $11 nonmember/$9 member; children under 3 are free. Regular hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays and on Friday, February 14. Visit chicagobotanic.org/orchid for more information.   

Members-only Preview Evening – Friday, February 7
Members get early access to the Orchid Show, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., plus music, light refreshments, and a cash bar. Fees apply.

Weekend Family Class: Make Your Own Butter and Pancakes – Sunday, February 23, and Saturday, February 29 (9:30 to 11 a.m. or 1 to 2:30 p.m.)
Your next homemade breakfast won’t be the same after you learn how fun and easy it is to make your own butter. Then enjoy your butter by spreading it onto delicious buttermilk pancakes. Participants will learn about the plants used to make breakfast and will take home recipes to replicate this delectable feast. Weekend Family Classes bring adults and children together to explore cool things about how plants connect science, art, history, and culture. Each program includes a variety of hands-on activities and projects, as well as opportunities to bring the Garden home.

MARCH

Brilliance: The Orchid Show – Through Sunday, March 22 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays)
The 2020 Orchid Show features a modern world of living color with 10,000 brilliant blooms used in engaging and energizing ways. Visitors will find the Regenstein Center transformed with floor-to-ceiling artistic installations, including a towering canopy of color, a floating carpet, and a dramatic chandelier filled with colorful blooms. Interpretation will illuminate the brilliant survival strategies of wild orchids that use color to attract pollinators. Enjoy musical events like Morning Music with Orchids on Tuesdays and Thursdays while surrounded by the beauty of the Orchid Show. Don’t miss Orchids After Hours on Thursdays and on Friday, February 14—enjoy the orchids in the evening with cocktails and light fare available for purchase. An orchid marketplace takes place every Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for the Orchid Show are: Adults $14 nonmember/$12 members; children (3–12 years) and seniors (62 years and up) $11 nonmember/$9 member; children under 3 are free. Regular hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays and on Friday, February 14. Visit chicagobotanic.org/orchid for more information.  

Evening with Orchids: Cocktail Tasting – Wednesday, March 11 (6 to 8 p.m.)
Unwind with an evening viewing of the Orchid Show and enjoy tastings of local spirits and specialty cocktails. Light fare is available for purchase. Fees apply.

JULY 

Butterflies & Blooms – Saturday, July 18, through Sunday, September 20 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Butterflies & Blooms is a butterfly exhibition where visitors can immerse themselves in a habitat filled with hundreds of live butterflies. This exhibition is filled with species native to South America, Asia, North America, and Africa, as well as those native to North America. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, weather permitting (last ticket sold at 4:30 p.m.). Admission fees apply. Visit chicagobotanic.org/butterflies for more information.

Grand Tram Tour – July 18 through October 25
This 2.3-mile narrated tour takes visitor past McDonald Woods, Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden and the Learning Campus while learning about the history and science of the Garden. Enjoy views alongside the Garden’s 81 acres of water! Optional stops allow passengers to step off the tram to tour sites including the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center, Dixon Prairie, and the Regenstein Center. Admission fees apply. Visit chicagobotanic.org/tram for more information. 

Plant Giveaway – Wednesday through Sunday, July 22 through October 4
Visitors can stop by the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden to pot up a featured plant seedling or seed to grow at home (one per family while supplies last). Staff or volunteers offer information about the plant. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

AUGUST 

Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America– Thursday, August 6 through Sunday, October 11 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
The 7,500-square-foot Model Railroad Garden is a family-favorite exhibition featuring 18 trains running on 1,600 feet of track. The trains travel more than 22,000 miles each season and are 1/29th the size of life-size trains. Train and garden enthusiasts young and old return year after year for the delightful sights and sounds of the miniature trains traversing high and low through tunnels, across bridges, and around close to 50 American landmarks. All are intricately handcrafted with natural materials, including twigs, bark, leaves, acorns and pebbles. More than 5,000 tiny trees, shrubs, ground covers and flowering plants of close to 300 varieties re-create the topographical landscape of America. Vignettes of tiny people and animals give the exhibition a storybook feel, while sound effects and a working geyser capture visitors’ imaginations. Admission fees apply. Strollers are not permitted in the exhibition; however, stroller parking is located near the entrance. Visit chicagobotanic.org/railroad for more information.

SEPTEMBER

Harvest Weekend – Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Learn how to harvest, preserve, and store your homegrown produce or farmers’ market bounty during Harvest Weekend. Join us at the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden for “how-to” demonstrations, shopping from local vendors, and more. Visit chicagobotanic.org/calendar/event/harvest_weekend for more information.

OCTOBER

Fall Bulb Festival – Saturday, October 10 through Sunday, October 11 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.); Members-only bulb shopping, Friday, October 9 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) 
The online bulb sale will begin late-August with a larger selection available this year. With a wide variety of daffodils, tulips, crocuses, and specialty bulbs tempt gardeners at the annual Bulb Sale. Buy mums, asters, peonies, potted amaryllis, paperwhite narcissus, and “Bulb Boost,” too. Expert staff are on hand at the onsite sale to answer questions and offer tips. All proceeds benefit the Chicago Botanic Garden. The sale is presented by the Woman’s Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society. There’s also a market place where many local vendors will offer baked goods, honey, roasted nuts, fresh jams, and much more. Visit chicagobotanic.org/bulb for more information. 

Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns – Wednesday, October 14, through Sunday, October 18 (6:30 to 10:30 p.m.), and Wednesday, October 21, through Sunday, October 25 (6:30 to 10:30 p.m.)
More than 1,000 hand-carved, real pumpkins—some as large as 150 pounds—will light up the night. Using scalpels, knives, gouges, and power tools, artists from the New York-based company Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns spend up to 15 hours sculpting a single pumpkin. The LED-lit jack-o’-lanterns will be staged along a festive, paved pathway, starting at the Esplanade. Along the way, encounter entertaining characters, and watch live carvers. Visit chicagobotanic.org/halloween for tickets and information.

NOVEMBER

Lightscape – Friday, November 13, to Sunday, January 3, 2021; Select Nights (4:30 to 10 p.m.)
The holiday event that sold out in its debut is back. Along a mile-long path, the night will come alive with color, imagination and sound, from a playful choir of singing trees to a spectacular Cathedral of Light. Visit chicagobotanic.org/lightscape for tickets and information.

###

Editors, please note: For digital images, contact Julie McCaffrey at (847) 835-8213 or at jmccaffrey@chicagobotanic.org.

Interact with the Garden for this and other Garden events and programs: