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Ravinia Park (also called The Ravinia Festival), in Highland Park on Chicago's North Shore, is a year-round indoor/outdoor performance venue with three distinct theaters. This would be news to the overwhelming majority of visitors who come only to the Festival's June-to-September outdoor performances. Watching from the Pavilion seats or listening from its loudspeaker-equipped lawn (with wine and cheese, of course, daahling) is a cherished part of Chicago summer for many. Most outdoor shows are in the evening, but the Kids Concerts series are matinees. Bookings for the Pavilion (3200 seats), the Martin Theater (850 seats) and the Bennett Gordon Hall (450 seats) are almost always musical. The indoor theaters concentrate in chamber music, The lawn accommodates many thousands. Lawn ticket sales were unrestricted until the summer of 2001, when a Poi Dog Pondering concert attracted an overflow crowd that led to dangerous and unsanitary crowding. Since then, lawn ticket sales are limited although the exact availability is not publicized.

The facilities are owned and operated by a non-profit. 2004 marked the 100th year of the park's existence. Besides the public performance programs, the non-profit also operates music education and outreach programs in dozens of low-income neighborhoods and Chicago public schools. The Steans Institute For Young Artists is a summer residency program for promising young musicians, which finds its home and its funding at Ravinia. Any college student with a currently-valid ID card from any institution will receive free lawn admission to Chicago Symphony Orchestra programs, and free admission to Martin Theater events. They also receive discount reserved seating for these events.

Access to Ravinia is easiest by rail (Union Pacific North line) with its Ravinia Park station located at the main gate. Parking around there is a complete mess during the summer performance season, and many will end up taking long shuttle rides from remote parking lots even if they drive.

Ravinia Festival website: www.ravinia.org
Personal knowledge.

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