Make sure to put Ravinia Festival on your summer bucket list

Make sure to put Ravinia Festival on your summer bucket list

Today is August 1st.  Back to school supplies have already replaced patio furniture along with paddle boards in the big box stores–but you still haven’t been to Ravinia? It’s time to get going.

Ravinia–the summer playground for Chicago area families in various guises since 1904 when it began life as an amusement park featuring a baseball diamond, an electric fountain and a casino building with dining rooms and a dance floor–defines what summer is all about.

Since 1911, when Ravinia officially became a summer venue for classical music attracting luminaries including Louis Armstrong, The Ballet Russe, Luciano Berio, Leonard Bernstein, Lucrezia Bori, Dave Brubeck, Pablo Casals, Van Cliburn, Aaron Copland, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, George Gershwin, José Greco, Jascha Heifetz, John Houseman, Janis Joplin, Yo-Yo Ma, Luciano Pavarotti, Itzhak Perlman, Oscar Peterson, Stephen Sondheim, Isaac Stern and Frank Zappa, the 36-acre park, nestled in a gently wooded area of north suburban Highland Park, has drawn visitors from the city and suburbs for its top acts and attractive setting that’s the perfect spot for listening to music and having a bite to eat– paired with your favorite wines.

Just last night, audiences were treated two to legends. Opening the evening was English rock guitarist, Jeff Beck (making his Ravinia debut) who had the crowd dancing, shouting and screaming on their feet during his hour and a half warm-up for the Guy.RaviniaJeffBeck

At 8:45, Buddy Guy, who celebrated his 80th birthday on July 30th, swaggered on stage warming up the audience in his typical playful and conversational manner–even leaving the stage for a bit to mingle and take selfies with the audience. One highlight of his performance being when he called Beck out on stage to jam with him but not before Beck serenaded Guy with Happy Birthday on his Fender Stratocaster (smiles all around).RaviniaBuddyGuy

Both legends–both icons, both Rock and Roll Hall of Famers (twice for Beck), both multiple Grammy Award winners and both on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”–Guy at #30 and Beck at #5–it was one amazing show.

But just another night at Ravinia with their star-studded line-up that spans all genres from classical, pop and rock music to jazz to music theater–attracting more than 600,000 music lovers to to nearly 150 events each season.

Even though the three month season is a little over the halfway mark (through September 17) there’s still lots to see. There’s Dolly (Aug. 7), Tony (Aug. 13), the Go Gos (Aug. 19) and Train (Aug. 26/27)–the hot shows that may be a tough ticket, a little crowded but, of course, sensational.

But there’s even more. There’s Seal (Aug. 28); Bonnie Raitt (Sept. 3); Los Tigres del Norte (Sept. 5); O.A.R. (Sept. 4); Don Henley (Aug. 14/15); CSO performances; War and Los Lonely Boys (Aug. 11) and Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry making his Ravinia debut on August 6th.

Ravinia’s popular film nights are back featuring video screens in the Pavilion and on the lawn with orchestras performing the scores live with two films left in the summer series: The Wizard of Oz (September 10) and Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II (September 11).

Ravinia is located at Lake Cook and Green Bay Roads in Highland Park, about 20 minutes north of Chicago. The Metra Union Pacific North line stops right at Ravinia’s main entrance.

On-site parking is limited, but shuttle service is available from remote lots, mostly along the railroad line. Parking on residential streets is prohibited by City ordinance, and violators will be ticketed by local police.

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