Tickets for the 2010 summer festival go on sale April 22; become a donor ($250 minimum) to buy your tickets in advance at a 20-percent discount. See the full schedule of events.
What began over a century ago as an amusement park and quiet getaway spot has evolved into a summer destination for music lovers and Chicagoland's most fashionable picnic spot. The turnstiles are most active for Pavilion shows featuring popular artists like Elvis Costello, Trisha Yearwood, and Tony Bennett, when attendees throw a lively but well-behaved party. More sedate and more frequent are the classical concerts, when your silence is appreciated and stringently policed. Newer programs include musical theater and the "One Score, One Chicago" series, educating the public about a single piece of music through printed and online resource guides, community performances, lectures and discussions.
Tickets for the lawn are around $10-$30, which seems like a bargain until you discover your view is limited to a sea of picnickers chowing down and drinking up. The lawn experience doesn't seem complete without a picnic. Most patrons bring their own, along with a bottle or two of wine. Less resourceful or forgetful concertgoers can pre-order a picnic box for $12-$20 and bottles for $30 and up. The graceful, acoustically superior 3,200-seat pavilion typically fills up primarily with the affluent North Shore set, shelling out $20-$100 per ticket. The park extends one of the most generous offers in town to students with an I.D.: free lawn passes or $10 pavilion passes to most Chicago Symphony shows. "Real world" ticket buyers can save with a 10-punch lawn pass.
Metra offers specially priced tickets for transit-minded music fans coming from downtown or the North Shore, but expect a crowded and likely delayed ride back to the city.
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Centerstage Reviewer: Justin Sondak