A night under the stars, listening to music and sipping wine, sounds like the perfect date night. But if you're headed to the Ravinia Festival this summer, just toss some juice boxes into your picnic basket and you've got some ready-made family time on your hands.
"It's such a multigenerational place," says Amy Schrage, associate director of public relations. "Grandparents to grandkids-this is an experience for everybody."
Since Ravinia is a casual, open space, little ones can wander around without getting nasty looks, and you can bring your own dinner to nibble throughout the afternoon or evening.
Schrage says the Kraft Great Kids concerts emulate the festival's main stage programming and include everything from classical to dance to rock.
"It's important to have a mix to offer up to families," Schrage says. "We're entertaining the parents, as well."
Of course, classical music is at the heart of Ravinia's programming, since it's the suburban summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. This year, a special Kraft Great Kids concert on July 21 focuses on young classical musicians as part of a live broadcast of WFMT's radio show Introductions with David Polk.
The July 31 performance of Gustav Holst's The Planets includes film footage from Adler Planetarium and astronomers to help watch the sky with telescopes.
Ravinia also uses select early-evening concerts with the CSO to offer "Family Space," an area where kids can make music-related crafts, hear stories and try out some instruments at the instrument petting zoo.
Adding to the family appeal: kids 15 and under are always free to classical shows (as well as high school and college students with ID). Plus, a family fun guide provides activities and simplified program notes to read while listening to the music.
"We really want this to be that place to bring kids and introduce them to different kinds of music," Schrage says.
And as long as mom and dad don't forget those juice boxes, we're pretty sure the whole family will leave Ravinia humming a happy tune.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.