Ravinia Festival in Highland Park Returns in 2021 - Visit Lake County - Blog

Ravinia Festival in Highland Park Returns in 2021

By: Jonathan Jones 06/11/2021

Ravinia is a staple of Lake County. Since 1905, the Highland Park fest has featured the top musicians in various genres, making it the oldest outdoor festival in U.S. history.

As the COVID-19 crisis halted the land of lakes summer marquee music festival last year, the Highland Park mainstay makes its triumphant return in 2021.


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Like every year, Ravinia showcases a slew of star-studded names. In the 2019 edition, we were blessed with a cast of legendary performers like Ramsey Lewis, Little Big Town, Chaka Khan, John Prine, T.I., Lionel Richie, Jennifer Hudson, Ringo Star, Nickelback, Jennifer Hudson and so many more.

Continue to scroll to view the exceptional lineup as Ravinia Festival in Highland Park returns in 2021!

Chicago Symphony Orchestra (July 9-10, 16, 18, 22-23, 27, 29, Aug. 6-8,12-13, 15)


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Ravinia Festival in Highland Park is Chicago Symphony Orchestra's home away from home. Founded originally in 1891, CSO is consistently dubbed as one of the globe's upper echelon orchestras. Each year, CSO performs hundreds of concerts every year, and we're glad to see them back bowing their violas and cellos, tooting their horns and tubas, strumming their harps and banging their timpanis. Watch these extremely talented instrumentalists perform their craft, led by conductor Marin Alsop and special guest baton downbeat guide Jonathan Rush, James Conlon, Yue Bao, and Michael Stern. Mark your calendars for their closing performance on August 15 as they play their annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular. Yes, the "1812 Overture" will have its booming canons per yoush.

Cynthia Erivo and CSO (July 18)


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"I may be poor. I may be black. I may be ugly. But I'm here!"Since Cynthia Erivo dampened our tissues and received barrages of standing Os during her Broadway coming out party "The Color Purple," she continues to dazzle on the big screen and via mini-series. The Emmy, Grammy and Tony-award-winning songstress (also received two Oscar nominations for her portrayal of Harriett Tubman) is just one away from achieving the ever-coveted EGOT title. Erivo also wrote and performed the song "Stand Up." The British singer's program at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park is called Legendary Women's voices, which will include some of the greatest female voices of all times, with all orchestral works by female composers. Erivo could channel her inner Aretha, as she did on the National Geographic miniseries "The Outsider" and "Genius."

Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro (July 20)


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What do you get when you an emcee of  "Cabaret" and an emcee of NPR's "All Things Considered?" There's no punchline to that joke, but we're in for something special. Take a trip through the eyes of multi-talented actor Alan Cumming and broadcast journalist Ari Shapiro as they transport audiences to other worlds through their stories. It's not just the allegories; there will be plenty of tunes and laughs along the way.

Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (July 25)


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Jazz maestro, composer, art director, educator and do-it-all music man Wynton Marsalis continues to raise awareness of the truest American art form and bring phenomenal improv to our ears. Marsalis is a Pulitzer Prize-winning and nine-time Grammy winner. He is the only musician to win Grammy's for Classical and Jazz in one night. Marsalis has worked in a genre stew in his career - from Yo-Yo Ma to Eric Clapton, to Herbie Hancock and others.

Brian McKnight (July 30)


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Brian McKnight needs no introduction as the sultry-voiced R&B singer has been oozing hits out for over three decades. With 25 million records sold, a ton of music awards and 16 Grammy nominations, McKnight is one of the pinnacle names in soul music. The perfect date night show, with a bottle of vino and McKnight's voice over the P.A., sets a romantic atmosphere for you and your significant other.

Willie Nelson & Family (August 14)


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There's nothing Willie can't do. Musician, actor, activist and martial arts guru, the catalyst of outlaw country music, makes his triumphant return to Ravinia Festival. The Texan has a legacy that has made him into an American icon. A 1993 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Kennedy Center Honor, 10-time Grammy winner and a plethora of other honors and awards, Nelson has quite a library, with over 70 albums to his name. "After the Fire is Gone," and the show is through, there will be "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain."

Gladys Knight (August 18)


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Hear the sounds of Motown as Gladys Knight performs. Known as the Empress of Soul, Knight recorded legendary hits (as lead songstress of Gladys Knight and the Pips) including ‘Midnight Train to Georgia,’ ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’ and ‘Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye).’ The seven-time Grammy Award-winning (three more as a member of Gladys Knight and the Pips) and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame diva has blessed our eardrums for over seven decades.

Counting Crows (August 19)


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This author can’t help himself and request that The Counting Crows perform “Mr. Jones and me.” The alternative band has rocked our socks off for a quarter of a century. Their album “August and Everything After” went seven times Platinum according to the Recording Industry Association and six of their albums have charted on the Billboard 200 Chart.  The band from Berkley, CA, was also nominated for an Academy Award for their song “Accidentally in Love,” which was in the movie “Shrek 2.”

The Beach Boys (August 21-22)


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The Beach Boys are the real deal. The astounding yet true saga of The Beach Boys is well chronicled, and by any standard, it’s one of the greatest and most musical stories ever told. This unique West Coast story continues with a global celebration befitting the remarkable and enduring legacy of these Rock & Roll Hall of Famers. The storied band will perform for two nights.

Lake Street Dive (August 26)

"Obviously" music lovers are excited to see Lake Street Dive on their second visit to Ravinia Festival. As a band, Lake Street Dive epitomizes democracy in action: the group, expanded into a quintet since touring keyboardist Akie Bermiss officially joined in 2017, share writing and arrangement duties. Their personalities, skills, and wide-ranging taste in pop, rock, R&B and jazz have long blended together to make an impressively cohesive sound, both sophisticated and playful, combining retro influences with a contemporary attitude.

Train (August 27-28)


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"Hey Soul Sister," the heralded band Train performs on a two-night stint at the Highland Park staple. The Bay-area, Grammy-winning band has been rocking out stages and dropping albums like little "Drops of Jupiter" (which actually is celebrating its 20th anniversary for that specific record) for nearly three decades. Besides the obvious success of the music, lead singer Pat Monahan makes a wine called Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co. that's garnered 100 awards and has sold over 10 million bottles.

Lady A (September 3)


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This country band rose to quick fame and is a powerhouse in its genre since its inception in 2006. They’ve won seven Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year and Album of the Year. The trio has sold over 18 million units, notched nine no.1 singles on the country chart. The trio tandem has made it known that they're here to stay for a long, long time.

The Roots (September 4)

The legendary Roots crew is heralded for their live performances. The three-time Grammy-winning, 14-nominated hip hop band hails from Philadelphia. Led by Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) and drummer Questlove (Ahmir Thompson), the band has worked with a ton of different acts. The electric rap collective serves as the house band on NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." The Roots have worked with Nas, Big Daddy Kane, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Toots and the Maytal, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews Band, Queen Latifah, Prince, Beyoncé and a ton of other musicians. Some of their big hits include "You Got Me (Ft. Erykah Badu)," "The Seed 2.0 (Ft. Cody ChestNUTT),"  "Wake Up (with John Legend)" and a slew of other hits over the span of nearly 30 years.

John Legend (September 5-6)


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John Legend is heading to Lake County to perform for "All of You." Ravinia Festival in Highland Park gives you the "Green Light" to "Get Lifted" and excited as Legend graces the Highland Park stage. The Ivy League grad (University of Pennsylvania) will be on his Bigger Love Tour. Legend is not just "Ordinary People," as he has earned 12 Grammy Awards in his career.

Ana Bárbara and Las Cafeteras: Fiesta Ravinia - Celebration of Mexican Culture (September 12)


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