One of the greatest perks of living in a fabulous city like Chicago, is fun in the summer sun. Chicago is host to many festivals, concerts, and music events that pop up in the summer to help you enjoy those precious few months of gorgeous weather. The city plays host to large-scale concert events like Pitchfork and Lollapalooza for those that enjoy the pop, rock, indie music and for the Latin lover’s there are concerts that feature dancing and instruction. But for the cities classical music fans, and my favorite summer event, Chicago gifts the residents of the city with the Grant Park Music Festival in Millennium Park.
Starting in June, every year since 2004 the lawn of the Pritzker Pavillion opens the gates and allows Chicagoans a blissful summer evening a few nights a week. The park boasts over 24.5 acres of arguably the cities best grass on the “Great Lawn” and is situated right off Michigan Avenue between Monroe and Randolph Street. Each concert week boats a different composer or theme varying from the classical music masters to traditional musical theatre standards. While the concerts often feature guest artists from around the world, the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus beautifully execute most concerts. Don’t forget, in the fall, The Lyric Opera of Chicago gifts the city with its annual “Stars of the Lyric Opera” concert. Brilliant opera music favorites and paired with selections from their upcoming season.
The three things that make these concerts the most beautiful? The sights, the sounds, and the sips!
The music you will hear is incredible. Some of the city’s, and the world’s, finest musicians play and sing their hearts out on the stage. One of the things you will marvel at the most? The amazing sound system. While you can enjoy the concert from “the bowl” the seats on the lawn are just a good. Sprawling over the entire great lawn is a criss-cross metal structure that not only adds visual interest but also pipes the gorgeous music throughout the lawn. So no matter where you sit, you feel like you are sitting right up front!
Concerts in the park are a people watchers delight! You’ll see everyone from the big business office with a big set up and catered affair to city locals with their chic picnic sets and roll up tables along with tourists and their Giordano’s Pizza or a cute couple sprawled out on their beach blankets reading a paper back book. All of this is second to the gorgeous creation that is the pavilion itself. Created by Frank Ghery, the smooth steel not only creates brilliant acoustics, but also offers a romantic light display starting at dusk.
Hands down, my favorite park of the concerts in the park…BYOB. As long as you remember your corkscrew (although don’t be shy about asking to borrow your neighbors, look for someone with a picnic set and hey surely will have one) you can pop open as many bottles of wine as you like! As long as you stay on the great lawn and don’t create a disturbance, you may indulge in good company, good eats, and great wine.
To make the most out of your experience, many local shops like Pastoral offer pre packed concert picnics complete with wine and cheese. Or pack your bag yourself with one of many cute, chic picnic sets from local retailers like P.O.S.H., CB2, or Macy’s. The bare essentials? Cloth napkins, acrylic plates, silverware, and glasses for four to sprawl out on a picnic blanket. Although if you are prone to back pain, you may want to opt for camping chairs and a petite collapsible table. Or, copy my family’s Father’s Day tradition and pick up some Harold’s Chicken Shack chicken on the way and munch in the park. Anyway you chose to indulge at your summer concert experience is sure to be lovely. Just make sure to arrive in time to select the best seats. Whether on the lawn or in the bowl, people like to get their early. I suggest 45 minutes to an hour early during weekday concerts, and at least 60 -90 minutes early on the weekend. Going to the Lyric Opera Concert in September? Better have someone there to stake out your spot at least two hours early.
Check out the schedule for the upcoming 2011 summer season on the Grant Park website. The season opens Wednesday, June 15th, 2011. Happy concert going!
Do you attend the summer concerts? What are your tips for getting the most out of your experience?