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Morton Arboretum festival to showcase European arts, culture

LISLE – The many unique experiences associated with a trip to Europe can be found a lot closer to home Sept. 23 and 24 when the Morton Arboretum in Lisle holds its fourth annual Passport Europe Festival.

Visitors won’t need to travel thousands of miles to hear authentic music, enjoy traditional dance performances, learn about legendary sports played in the United Kingdom, shop for European goods and enjoy cuisine from across the continent.

More than 10,000 visitors are expected at the festival, which will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is free with arboretum admission: $14 for adults, $12 for seniors (65 and older) and $9 for children (2 to 17 years old).

The festival combines European entertainment and culture with an opportunity to see the arboretum’s well-established collection of trees from throughout northern Europe, said Gina Steele, the arboretum’s special events coordinator.

“An exciting range of performers representing countries across Europe combined with a scenic outdoor setting makes for a great time at the arboretum,” Steele said. “The festival is also an opportunity to showcase our tree collections from countries like Austria, Norway and Sweden, some of the oldest on our grounds.”

Different aspects of European culture will be on display each hour throughout the two-day event.

Visitors can appreciate the elaborate footwork of Spanish flamenco dancers one moment and gain an understanding of hurling, a traditional Irish field sport, the next. They can even try their hand at the ancient sport.

Dancers from the Salt Creek Ballet will perform, as will Frank Lamphere, who performs both traditional Italian songs, with covers of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin tunes. An oompah band will play a variety of German classics, and Polish polka music also will be performed.

"We have dozens of performances on three stages set around the visitor center," Steele said.

In addition to entertainment, the festival will feature vendors offering a selection of European goods, as well as popular cuisine from throughout the continent, storytelling and a variety of games.

This year's event has some new attractions.

"A new storyteller will captivate our audiences, and we’re partnering with the Alliance Française of DuPage County, an organization that will provide visitors with a window into French cultural activities and traditions," Steele said.

Another new feature is a local artist painting outdoor scenes while accompanied by classical music. Additionally, a living Roman statue will come to life when visitors pass by. 

"We are hoping our visitors will come away with a feeling of being transported to the European countryside," Steele said.


If you go

WHAT: Passport Europe Festival

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 23 and 24

WHERE: The Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle

COST: Free with arboretum admission ($14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $9 for children)

INFO: 630-968-0074,

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