Ravinia Festival is back: Here’s the 2021 Schedule

Ravinia Festival is back: Here’s the 2021 Schedule
A blast from the past. Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett from the summer of 2015 at Ravinia Festival. Photo: Chicago Tribune

Once again after a year silenced by the pandemic, the sound of music will be heard at Ravinia starting July 1.

The 2021 programming schedule will feature 64 concerts with Ravinia’s signature mix of genres, includig classical, jazz, rock & pop, Broadway, Country, Dance, Family programs and more.

“More than ever before, we look forward to welcoming audiences back to Ravinia to be re-inspired by live music together,” said Ravinia President and CEO Jeffrey P. Haydon. “As one of the nation’s best outdoor music venues, Ravinia is perfectly positioned to welcome audiences to comfortably experience live music together again.” He continued, “While this year’s experience may be a little different, we look forward to continuing one of Chicagoland’s favorite summertime traditions with music under the stars.” 


Tickets for this year’s festival will be old in two phases. Tickets for the general public will go on sale on Ravinia’s website, ravinia.org, on June 16 for concerts between July 1 and August 15, and on July 21 for concerts after August 15. 


Ravinia will offer a range of seating options at concerts. Seating in the Pavilion will be physically distanced and sold in groups of two or four. The South Lawn will provide audiences with pre-reserved, distanced pods for two, four, or six people and will feature a dedicated screen showing the live video feed of the stage. The North Lawn will have a reduced capacity of general admission access with first-come, first-served seating. The capacity of the North Lawn will be scaled according to current guidelines at the time but guests are expected to distance appropriately.


New this season, in partnership with Metra, all trains on the Union Pacific North line will honor Ravinia tickets as train fares; patrons can show their concert e-ticket for a free train ride to and from the park on concert days.

This summer, only the downtown Highland Park park-and-ride lot will be utilized; buses will have reduced capacity to maintain passenger distancing and cycle as needed to and from the park on concert days.

The 2021 Season

Gate 1 entrance. Courtesy of Ravinia Festival

The summer season will include 64 performances between July 1 and September 26, and marks the 85th concert season in the history of the oldest outdoor music festival in the country.

It will keep off with three free events, July 1, 2, and 3, to thank invited audiences of essential, frontline, and healthcare workers; first responders; neighborhood partners; and families who participate in Reach Teach Play programs at Ravinia. Three days of programs are designed to spotlight Chicagoland and longtime Ravinia artists and welcome them back to the park for their first public performance opportunities in more than a year.


As Ravinia adds performers, Show Me Chicago will continue to update this post here.

Added June 9:

Counting Crows, August 19

Marie Osmond with special guest David Archuleta (Ravinia debuts), August 25

Allison Russell (Ravinia debut) opens for Lake Street Dive, August 26

Lady A, September 3

The Roots, September 4

John Legend, with opener The War and Treaty, September 5 & 6

Max Weinberg’s Jukebox, September 19

Frank Orrall (of Thievery Corporation), September 23 (Carousel concert)

Ms. Lauryn Hill, September 25


Ravinia has been the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) since 1936. This summer, 15 programs from July 9 through August 15 will be led by Marin Alsop and seven guest conductors, including Yue Bao, Jonathan Rush, and George Stelluto in their CSO debuts. Nine soloists also make their CSO debuts at Ravinia in 2021—pianist Lukáš Vondráček, vocalists Matt Doyle and Cynthia Erivo, sopranos Julia Bullock and Larisa Martínez, clarinetist Anthony McGill, violinists Stella Chen and William Hagen, andviolist Matthew Lipman—while acclaimed violinists MidoriJoshua Bell, and Pinchas Zukerman, vocalist Betsy Wolfe, and pianist Jorge Federico Osorio make welcome returns. Returning guest conductors include former Ravinia music director James Conlon, with whom Hagen makes his debut; Zukerman, who will play and conduct his program; Steven Reineke, who leads a special Broadway-themed evening with Wolfe and Doyle; and Michael Stern, who leads a program with Bell and Martínez and one with Bell solo.

Cynthia Erivo makes her CSO debut headlining the Ravinia Women’s Board’s annual Gala Benefit Evening on July 18, benefitting Ravinia’s Reach Teach Play education programs, which serve more than 75,000 children and adults each year.

Classical music programming at Ravinia continues to reflect the breadth and depth of talent in the field through a diverse roster of both performers and composers. CSO and chamber music programs in 2021 feature a robust list of music by women, Asian, Black, and Latinx composers throughout the season, including Jessie Montgomery, who was recently named the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s next Mead Composer-in-Residence, and Amy Beach, Margaret Bonds, Rebecca Clarke, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Stacy GarropJames P. Johnson, Laura KarpmanArturo Márquez, Shawn Okpebholo, Florence Price, Caroline Shaw, Carlos Simon, Tyshawn Sorey, Augusta Read Thomas, Joan TowerDavóne Tines, George Walker, Chen Yi and others.

Complete updated programs can be viewed on the Ravinia website or in the chronological listing that accompanies this press release.


Sixteen chamber music and recital programs will be presented this summer, ranging from a four-concert recital series by pianist Garrick Ohlsson surveying much of Brahms’s solo piano works, to a unique cabaret collaboration between Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro.  All chamber music concerts will be moved from Ravinia’s indoor theaters to the outdoor Pavilion stage and be available for Lawn listening. 


Garrick Ohlsson celebrates the 40th anniversary of his Ravinia debut with four programs that explore Brahms’s solo piano works, July 1, 5, 7, and 12.

Vladimir Feltsman offers a program of solo piano music by Beethoven and Schubert on July 8.

Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro join forces to tell stories through song in Och & Oy! A Considered Cabaret on July 20.

Pianist Alexander Malofeev makes his Ravinia debut with a program of music by Nikolai Medtner, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff on July 21.

Misha Dichter returns to give a solo recital—his 75th appearance at Ravinia—on July 25; he and his wife Cipa Dichter give a duo recital together on July 26.

The Zukerman Trio—violinist Pinchas Zukerman, cellist Amanda Forsyth, and pianist Shai Wosner—perform on July 28.

RSMI alumna mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung brings a program of poetry and song with pianist Kevin Murphy—RSMI’s Vocal Program Director—and reader J. Nicole Brooks on August 5.

Bass-baritone Davóne Tines makes his Ravinia debut with pianist Adam Nielsen in a program that mixes new works of his own and by Caroline ShawTyshawn SoreyJulius Eastman with Bach songs and spirituals, creating a “Mass” reflecting his lived experience on August 31.

Pianist Lara Downes is joined by violinist Rachel Barton Pine and cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing and members of the Chicago Sinfonietta in Rising Sun: Migration and Renaissance, a program of music by composers of the Chicago Black Renaissance, including Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, Lil Hardin Armstrong, Sam Cooke, and Nora Holt on September 7.

Nexus Chamber Music is joined by composer Augusta Read Thomas as emcee for a program that includes the world premiere of her settings of poetry by Emily Dickinson for string quartet and soprano, Upon Wings of Words, on September 9.

Miró Quartet brings an American-themed program, with Dvořák’s quartet of the same name, along with pieces by Kevin Puts and George Walker, September 14.

Lincoln Trio gives the world premiere of a piece written for them by Shawn Okpebholo, on a program with works by Rebecca Clarke and Ernst Bacon on September 21.


Classic Kids LIVE: Beethoven Lives Upstairswith theOistrakh Symphony of Chicago, July 11

Laurie Berkner brings her storytelling through songs on August 7.


Continuing its support of Chicago-area artists and ensembles throughout the season, Ravinia also presents the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, Joffrey Ballet, Nexus Chamber Music, and Chicago Jazz Orchestra Sextet this summer as it celebrates a return to live performances.

Music director Mei-Ann Chen and the Chicago Sinfonietta return to Ravinia with a program that explores how dance has linked composers, musicians, and audiences across generations and cultures, September 8.

Grammy®-winning Baroque chamber orchestra Apollo’s Fire returns to Ravinia led by conductor and harpsichordist Jeannette Sorrell in a program of Venetian music, with soprano Erica Schuller and tenor Brian Giebler, August 3.

The Joffrey Ballet, one of the world’s leading dance companies, returns to the festival for the first time in more than a decade. The program consists of four contemporary pieces: Beyond the Shore, music by Mason Bates and choreographed by Nicolas Blanc; Swing Low, music by Zoe Keating and choreographed by Chanel DaSilva; The Sofa, music by Tom Waits and choreographed by Itzik Galili; and The Times are Racing, with music by Dan Deacon and choreography by Justin Peck, which premiered in 2017 by the New York City Ballet (NYCB) and has only been performed by one other company—The Joffrey Ballet. September 17


Ravinia continues featuring jazz, Broadway, American Songbook, and folk/bluegrass/roots music this summer, including welcoming Kurt Elling back to Chicago and the return of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis to Ravinia. Also returning in 2021 is Fiesta Ravinia—a daylong family festival of Mexican music, food, and culture in celebration of Mexican Independence Day. This will be the fifth annual Fiesta Ravinia.

Kurt Elling and Charlie Hunter, July 13—Carousel Concert

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis, July 25

Brian McKnight debuts at Ravinia, July 30

Michael Feinstein and Betty Buckley, August 1

Brett Dennen, August 4—Carousel Concert

Judy Collins and Madeleine Peyroux, August 10

Fiesta Ravinia: Ana Bárbara, Las Cafeteras, and more, September 12


In keeping with its signature mix of offerings, Ravinia welcomes artists ranging from Train and Andrew Bird to Ziggy Marley, King Crimson and The Zappa Band to Black Violin, and Blind Boys of Alabama, to the Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco.

Classic Albums Live: Led Zeppelin IV, July 24

Yacht Rock Revue debuts at Ravinia, July 31

Sideline makes its Ravinia debut, August 11—Carousel Concert

Willie Nelson & Family and Nate Smith, August 14

Gladys Knight, August 18

The Infamous Stringdusters and Leftover Salmon in their Ravinia debuts, August 20

The Beach Boys, August 21 and 22

John Hiatt and the Jerry Douglas Band, August 24

Lake Street Dive, August 26

Train, August 27 and 28

King Crimson and The Zappa Band make their Ravinia debuts, August 29

Collective Soul, Better Than Ezra, and Tonic share the bill on September 1

Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco, September 10

Black Violin and Blind Boys of Alabama, September 11

Ben Folds with the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, September 18

Ziggy MarleyA Celebration of Bob Marley, September 19


Patrons can bring their picnics or choose from a selection of in-park dining options this summer.

The Ravinia Market

will be open for mobile ordering and contactless pickup of its grab-and-go food and drinks. Mobile carts throughout the park provide a variety of seasonal options, including beverage carts with a selection of premium bottled cocktails, spiked seltzers, wine, and craft beers, as well as snack carts featuring many guest-favorite items.

Park View, Tree Top, and Lawn Bar

The new Lawn Bar. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Indoor and outdoor dining options will be available at the Park View, Tree Top, and Lawn Bar restaurants in the Dining Pavilion, as well as at the Freehling Room for eligible Ravinia donors.


This summer, the Festival Shop will be open on all concert days. New merchandise such as mugs, water bottles, shot glasses, face masks, apparel, and other items are available with the shop’s new logo.

Visit the website for the most up-to-date programming and protocols.


The health and well-being of audiences, artists, staff, and the community is Ravinia’s top priority. With expert guidance from Northwestern Medicine and local public health authorities, festival leadership has developed protocols for attendance that will be kept up to date to ensure best practices for health and safety. Notable changes at Ravinia this year include shorter concerts without intermission, reduced audience capacity, and shortened park hours prior to concerts. All public performances will take place outdoors, either on the stage of the open-air Pavilion or on the North Lawn at the Carousel. Ravinia will follow current protocols from the CDC and local authorities; concertgoers should check ravinia.org/page/2021Policies for the latest guidelines.  

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