Ravinia Festival Is Back this Summer with Willie Nelson, The Beach Boys, and More

After Covid-19 shut down Ravinia Festival’s 2020 summer season, it is back with 64 performances slated between July 1 and Sept. 26. Under the direction of its new President and CEO Jeffrey P. Haydon, safety protocols have been developed with Northwestern Medicine and local public health authorities to ensure guests and artists can enjoy the season safely.

“More than ever before, we look forward to welcoming audiences back to Ravinia to be re-inspired by live music together,” Haydon said. “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.” 

Precautions include staggered seating for parties of two or four in the Pavilion, pre-reserved distanced lawn pods on the South Lawn for two, four, or six people and offering reduced capacity on a first-come basis for general admission on the North Lawn. All performances will take place outdoors and will also be shorter without intermission. Park hours will also be shortened prior to concerts.

Rendering of a physically distanced Pavilion. Courtesy of Ravinia Festival.

While guests can famously bring their own picnics, in-park dining, including The Ravinia Market, will be open for mobile ordering and contactless pickup of its grab-and-go food and drinks. Indoor and outdoor dining options will be available at the Park View, Tree Top, and Lawn Bar restaurants in the Dining Pavilion (reservations are strongly encouraged).

Up to six people can book a South Lawn pod. Courtesy of Ravinia Festival.

The summer schedule includes Ravinia mainstays such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and new this year are Carousel Concerts, which are a series of casual evening performances of jazz, folk and bluegrass music at the carousel-styled rotunda on the North Lawn. The season will kick off with free invite-only concerts for first-responders, healthcare workers and other essential workers, as a thank you to the community.

Other highlights of the summer schedule include:

Willie Nelson & Family perform on August 14. Courtesy of Ravinia Festival.

Brian McKnight, July 30
Willie Nelson & Family and Nate Smith, Aug. 14
Gladys Knight, Aug. 18
The Beach Boys, Aug. 21 and 22
Train, Aug. 27 and 28
Collective Soul, Better Than Ezra, and Tonic, Sept. 1
Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco, Sept. 10
The Joffrey Ballet, Sept. 17
Ben Folds with the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Sept. 18
Ziggy Marley: A Celebration of Bob Marley, Sept. 19

Check out the full schedule on Ravinia’s website.

Tickets will be sold in two phases, to provide flexibility for updated seating protocols and programming for the second half of the season. Tickets for the general public can be purchased on June 16 at ravinia.org for concerts between July 1 and Aug. 15, and for concerts after Aug. 15 on July 21. 2021. Donors receive early access to tickets, with two opportunities for ticket requests for the first half of the season and the other for the later concert dates. Learn more about being a Ravinia Donor here.

New this year, Metra will offer free rides on the Union Pacific North line to all Ravinia ticket holders. Patrons can show their concert e-ticket for a free train ride to and from the park on concert days. The downtown Highland Park park-and-ride lot will be unitize, and busses will operate at a reduced capacity.

For up-to-date capacity and safety protocols, visit Ravinia’s 2021 Policies page.


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Macaire Douglas lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to prevent the illegal abandonment of newborns nationwide. Since its inception in 2000, more than 3,600 newborns have been safely surrendered and adopted into loving homes.