Ravinia is North America’s oldest music festival and a favorite destination here on the North Shore. With more than 140 different concerts taking place throughout the summer, ranging from classical music (Ravinia is the summer home of Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and kids shows to rock and pop legends, there’s a little something for everyone at this park. Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your visit.
Ravinia Festival Pavilion | Photo Courtesy of Ravinia Festival
Where to Sit
When buying tickets, you’ll have to decide if you prefer to sit in the Pavilion or on the Lawn.
Ravinia’s Pavilion offers a traditional concert experience. You’ll be able to see the performer and you’ll have an assigned seat. However, only drinks bought in Ravinia souvenir cups can be brought into the Pavilion during non-classical concerts. Otherwise, no food or drink (besides water) is allowed here.
Food and drink, including alcohol for guests 21 and older, is allowed on Ravinia’s Lawn, as are chairs, tables and blankets. Spots are first-come, first-served, so make sure to arrive early, especially if you’re visiting with a large group. Guests will not be able to see the Pavilion stage from the Lawn, but some concerts will have screens set up throughout the area. Guests can also stand near the back and sides of the Pavilion to see the stage.
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What to Pack
If you’ve decided to sit on the Lawn, you are allowed to bring blankets, chairs, tables and food. (You can still bring these items even if you have Pavilion seats, if you’d like to sit on the Lawn before the concert starts. However, these items must be kept on the perimeter of the Pavilion and will be unsupervised during the concert.)
If you prefer to pack light, Ravinia offers rental services. Chairs and tables can be rented online in advance or at the park the day of your concert. Ravinia staff will even take your items to your spot on the Lawn and help you set up. Chairs are $8 each and buffet tables are $10 each when reserved online, which also guarantees availability. Chairs are $10 each and buffet tables are $12 each when rented at the park. Tablecloths are $4. Plus, discounts are available for large groups. Learn more here.
There are also a few items you cannot bring to Ravinia. A full list of prohibited items can be found here.
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When it comes to dining, Ravinia does not disappoint. For a quick and easy option, check out the Picnic Box program. Order your box at least 24 hours in advance and when you arrive at the park, your food will be ready and waiting. You can also find Picnic Box items at Ravinia Market, where you can order even more take-away items like pizza, burgers or salads to create your own picnic.
If you’re looking for a sit-down experience, head to the newly renovated Dining Pavilion. Here you’ll find indoor and outdoor seating as well as a variety of food and beverage options.
During the concert, you can find FanFare Carts for coffee, wine, beer and soda. And don’t forget the Carousel Ice Cream Shop for a sweet treat.
During the concert, you can find Fanfare Carts for coffee, wine, beer and soda. Or, go all out with Lawncierge™, “an upscale lawn experience” featuring a reserved outdoor space, private open bar, food stations, lounge seating, and more.
Getting to Ravinia
Concert-goers can either drive or take the train to Ravinia. The park’s lot has room for 1,800 cars, but does fill up quickly. If you arrive after the lot has been filled, you can take advantage of Ravinia’s Park ‘N Ride lots, where you will take a free shuttle to the park’s gate. Parking is $25 for pop and jazz concerts, $10 for Pavilion classical concerts and free for kids concerts, dance concerts and performances in the Martin Theatre.
During the summer, Metra’s Union Pacific North Line stops right outside Ravinia’s front gate. Ask for the $8 Ravinia round-trip pass on weekdays, or buy an $10 weekend pass and hop on Metra’s “Ravinia Special” train.
Ravinia Festival Lawn
Now that you know your way around Ravinia, it’s time to buy tickets to some of the summer’s hottest shows. And don’t forget to check out Ravinia’s special offers.