Top Ten Things to Bring to Ravinia

Last month, we asked our seasoned Ravinia concert-goers on Facebook to provide their most helpful tips for making the most out of your Ravinia experience.  According to our fans, here are the top ten Ravinia concert must-haves:

1. Wine

It isn’t surprising that bringing wine was the number one tip.  Ravinia is one of the only BYOB venues around.  Of course, Ravinia abides by all local and state alcohol laws—in other words, you must be 21 to take advantage of our BYOB policy.  If you forget your wine, don’t worry!  You can purchase alcoholic beverages at Ravinia’s full bar or in the Park View and Mirabelle restaurants on site.  Don’t forget to bring your I.D., a corkscrew, and someone special to share your bottle!

2. A blanket

A picnic isn’t complete without one!  It can be used to mark your spot on the lawn or to cuddle up with after the sun goes down.  On rainy days or when the ground is wet, don’t forget to bring a tarp or plastic sheet to put under your blanket so you can stay dry for the duration of the concert.  Fold-up lawn chairs are also a great alternative for those who would rather not sit on the ground.

 3. A roll-up table

A large number our fans mentioned the necessity of the roll-up table.  These are available for purchase in the Ravinia Gift Shop.

4.  Candles

Candles are a great source of light and ambiance for a picnic under the stars.  Bring citronella to repel mosquitoes as well.  And don’t forget to bring matches!

5. Flashlight


Big, small, or hands-free, it is always a good idea to bring some kind of flashlight to Ravinia.  Packing up can be hard to do in the dark, and you wouldn’t want to accidently leave something behind!

6. An umbrella

A wise man once said, “You can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather” -Andre 3000 (Outkast).  Such is the case here—Ravinia’s concerts always go on, come rain or shine!  Be prepared!

7. Mosquito repellant

Ravinia is an outdoor venue.  Therefore, the swarming of mosquitoes is inevitable in the hot summer months.  Always be prepared with bug spray and citronella candles.

 8. A sweatshirt 

When the sun goes down, so does the temperature—especially here at Ravinia.  Make sure you are prepared for it to get a little chilly.  But if you forget warm clothes, not to worry!  The Ravinia gift shop will have you covered.  Literally.

9. Garbage bags

This is a great and practical idea!  It is also a good way to cut down on the amount of litter left in the park after a concert.

10. A smile

Concerts at Ravinia are all about the atmosphere and bringing people together.  So bring a good attitude and an open mind.  Arrive early with your ticket, your picnic gear, and a smile.  Who knows who you’ll meet and what memories you will make!


Kristin Ayers

Marketing Intern



Ravinia's own Stanley Cup

Stanley Freehling throws out the first pitch                                    Photo Credit: Patrick Gipson/Ravinia Festival


Once again at the Braeside field
Bats and mits two teams did wield

The Chicago Symphony versus Ravinia Trustees
(plus elected family members and Festival employees)

Named for Former Ravinia Chairman Stanley Freehling,
the annual softball game provides a competitive feeling

Conductor James Conlon got two hits
Against pitcher and Trustee Loring Knoblauch, in good spirits

Both teams were supported by a cheering crowd
And for their efforts, all involved were proud

Ravinia’s team played hard into the night,
But with a final score of 13-7, the Chicago Symphony won the fight

Keep on practicing and perfect your lineup
Next year’s our year, at the Stanley Cup!


Alexandra Kurland
Public Relations Intern

Once again at the Braeside field
Bats and mits two teams did wield

The Chicago Symphony versus Ravinia Trustees
(plus elected family members and Festival employees)

Named for Former Ravinia Chairman Stanley Freehling,
the annual softball game provides a competitive feeling

Conductor James Conlon got two hits
Against pitcher and Trustee Loring Knoblauch, in good spirits

Both teams were supported by a cheering crowd
And for their efforts, all involved were proud

Ravinia’s team played hard into the night,
But with a final score of 13-7, the Chicago Symphony won the fight

Keep on practicing and perfect your lineup
Next year’s our year, at the Stanley Cup!


Picnic in the Plaza

What an incredible day to be outside enjoying the sun and cooking up some picnic fare! Levy Restaurants excutive chef at Ravinia, Tim Radack prepared a delicious Summer Tomato Salad at Daley Plaza in Chicago with CBS 2's Mary Kay Kleist. Surrounding the table, which also included fun picnic fare from Ravinia Gifts, was the Chicago Farmer's Market which featured fresh and beautiful produce and flowers. It's a miracle that I didn't come back to Ravinia with 5 bags of goodies. 
If you haven't already tried our Park View or Mirabelle restaurants in the park, you must make your way there to experience the freshest locally grown produce and incredible food before you enjoy a concert. Come join us!
Summer Tomato Salad

Market Tomatoes 5 ounces
Baby Mache Lettuce 1/2 ounce
Lemon Vinaigrette (see recipe below) 1 fluid ounce
Sea Salt / Black Pepper to taste

1. Block cut tomatoes about 1/2 an inch thick
2. Season tomatoes with sea salt and black pepper
3. Toss baby Mache with Lemon Vinaigrette and place on top of tomatoes
4. Garnish with Blue Cheese Fritter
Lemon Vinaigrette

Shallots (diced) 3
Lemon Juice 16 fluid ounces
Sugar 6 ounces
Olive Oil 28 fluid ounces
Chives (diced) 1 tablespoon

1. Add diced shallots, chives, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl. Whisk until all incorporated.
2. Whisk in olive oil until vinaigrette becomes emulsified.
Amy Schrage
Associate Director of Communications

Picnic Hints from HGTV's Monica Pederson

HGTV's Monica Pederson offers some great ideas on creating the perfect picnic.

Use items you already have in your own home for stylish touches to a casual picnic with layered richly colored wool throw blankets as table linens, traditional woven picnic baskets, stylish black iron lanterns with candles, and greenery.

Style even a basic table by creating a beautiful no sew full length table skirt with inexpensive fabric remnants. Use tone on tone and punches of bright berry red for appetizing color and rich pattern. Large over-scaled hurricane glasses with candles, pottery and punches of green dress the table. Using unscented items such as mounded red apples or cherries and green plants gives tables a pop of color without having to use fresh flowers that may interfere with your food & wine aromas.

Suggested Recipe

 by Executive Chef Colin Crowley

Chicken dried fruit salad—a twist on the old standby includes dried cherries, fennel bulb and no mayonnaise! Use croissants to dress it up further.

 Serves 4 as a sandwich


  • 2 cups grilled chicken, boneless skinless breast and thigh, diced
  • ¾ cup diced celery
  • ¾ cup diced fennel
  • ¾ cup diced cherries
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • Zest of ½ orange
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Croissants

Mix all ingredients and let marinate for 1 hour.  Serve on croissant.

Wine Pairing

Rutherford Hill Rosé


Dry fresh flavors and aromas of cherry and plum pair well with the sweetness of the dried cherries in the Chicken dried fruit salad.



Inspiration and Gratitude at the Steans Music Institute for Young Artists

An open letter from Steans Music Institute jazz artist Or Bareket to mentor Rufus Reed:

Dear Rufus,

I wanted to thank you for the experience I had participating in the Ravinia workshop- I went back home to Israel a few days ago, and I couldn't hope for a better way to spend my last week in the U.S.
I feel fortunate that I got to work with you a lot- I learned so much from you about my instrument and my craft from our lesson and the group sessions.
It is a rare thing that a great musician is an equally great teacher, and it's even more uncommon to meet someone who teaches with such generosity, patience and grace like you have. I feel that I was able to absorb things on a very deep level because the way teach, the way you play and the way you generally conduct yourself all feel like one thing, it's a tangible and clear experience that I feel I can always go back to in my memory and be inspired.
I work to cultivate this quality in myself as a human being, musician and teacher.
The same goes for David, Nathan and Curtis- being around all of you for a week was so important to me because of the strong sense of community, friendship and humanity as a context for music making- something that's generally overlooked, I feel, in this increasingly academic world. I want to carry this spirit on into my life and my music.
I don't know when I'll be coming back to New-York, it's going to be a while but I'll definitely do it. and I hope we can meet again and I can study with you more.
I'm really digging into the A string meanwhile, and it's going really well.

Thank You,



Chef Thierry Blouet - Ravinia Guest Chef on July 15

Chef Blouet was born in Puerto Rico in 1964, and his French parents educated him in France and Mexico, where haute cuisine is an integral ingredient of the good life.  His paternal grandfather, Max Blouet, spent 30 years as general manager of the ultra-elegant George V in Paris.

In February 2000 Chef Blouet's 20-year culinary career culminated in the most prestigious of all chef awards. Admitted to the inner circle of the "Maîtres Cuisiniers de France," he is among only a few hundred French chefs who hold the title that is the highest qualification in the world of gastronomy. His cuisine reflects both his own intuitive ability and a uniquely personal gift: an intense sense of art and beauty.

An extremely visual chef, his dishes have been described as sensual compositions.

At Café des Artistes, Chef  Blouet trains and challenges a new generation of chefs. Over the last 10 years, his chefs and ex-chefs have participated in the most important national competitions and always finish in the very top ranks.  His newest endeavor is Café des Artistes del Mar, located in Punta Mita.

In addition to his own business, Blouet, who is also a member of the Académie Culinaire de France, brings together chefs from France, Mexico, Canada and the United States to share and enrich their cooking techniques while maintaining traditionally high standards. He also devotes himself to promoting important cultural and “foodie” fiestas in Puerto Vallarta and Mexico.  His special interest lies in the Gourmet Festival held annually in Puerto Vallarta, where chefs from all over the world team up with chefs from the best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta during the month of November.

Chef Blouet has participated twice in the Highland Park Sister Cities Foundation fund-raising dinners held in Highland Park.  He has collaborated with Carlos Nieto of Carlos’ Restaurant to prepare a gourmet dinner to raise money for charities in Puerto Vallarta supported by the sister cities committees of Highland Park and Puerto Vallarta.  He is unselfish in his efforts to support charities in Puerto Vallarta, and his skills and reputation have earned him status as a celebrity chef in Mexico and the rest of the northern hemisphere.  Most recently he appeared as a guest chef at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago. 

Ravinia is honored to welcome Thierry Blouet as a guest chef for the Highland Park-Puerto Vallarta sister cities concert.  We also welcome his wife, Rose, who has accompanied him on this visit.

You can experience the creations of Chef Blouet at the July 15 Beethoven Concertos featuring Jorge Federico Osorio. In addition, you'll also witness the creation of an international mural by acclaimed artist Oscar Romero and much more. Hear traditional Mexican music by Juan Rivera and Los Pichardo prior to the CSO concert. Tickets are still available.


Mr. Harza Receives Life Trustee Award

Ravinia Life Trustee Richard D. Harza received the Marion M. Lloyd Life Trustee Award at an annual gathering of Life Trustees and past Women’s Board chairs of the Festival. The award is given by the Ravinia Associates—our young professionals’ board—to honor the dedication and long-term support of one Ravinia Life Trustee each year. Mr. Harza has been involved with Ravinia since the summer of 1936, when he served as an usher at the legendary Benny Goodman concerts, and his dedication has not waned since. He became a member of the board in 1981 and a Life Trustee in 1991, and has supported many efforts of the Festival, most notably when he and his wife Dorothy named the John D. Harza Building in memory of their son. The Harza Building houses the Steans Institute for Young Artists and Bennett•Gordon Hall.
Greg Walters
Director of Development


Interview and Performance with Welz Kauffman

Ravinia’s President and CEO, Welz Kauffman was recently interviewed about the upcoming Ravinia season on Chicago Tonight. In addition, you can see him perform a Rachmaninoff piece – six hands, one piano – with Josephine Lee and Marta Aznavoorian.


Ravinia in Mystery Novel

There’s much to recommend in the Jack Doyle mystery series by Ben Franklin Award-winner John McEvoy. But The Significant Seven, the fourth novel from this Evanston writer—the former Midwest editor and senior correspondent for the Daily Racing Form—has something extra special going for it: A visit to Ravinia Festival. The hero of the story pays his $10 lawn admission to picnic on the lawn during a Martin Theatre concert. McEvoy gives a fun description of the experience and even offers up historical detail on our 106-year-old venue, noting: “This is where George Gershwin played Rhapsody in Blue in 1936. So many people attended, Doyle had read, that hundreds boosted themselves up and listened while seated on the limbs of trees that surrounded the pavilion and lawn.” McEvoy also gives a nice shout-out to Penny Tyler, Chicago’s great jazz maven, who has been booking Ravinia’s jazz lineup with Ramsey Lewis for years.

Nick Pullia
Director of Communications


Put on Your Dancing Shoes for Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club

  • 12 years old and under
  • Beginner/Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • Click to read more ...