The festivals mentioned below are only a tiny sample of events this summer. Be sure to check with local media, arts organizations, www.festivals.com, and individual websites for details of thousands of festivals in the United States and around the world.
"There will be so much to see, that you can't spend a single night at home," says Paul Collard, director of the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, Conn. His is a sentiment being echoed around the country as arts organizations prepare a long and lively list of summer arts, theater, and dance festivals.
Whether it's music in the mountains that you crave, a lakefront concert, or a hands-on workshop, exceptional experiences await arts fans of all ages.
And forget the fancy clothes, wear shorts if you like, says an organizer of the Aspen (Colo.) Music Festival. In summer, the rules are relaxed: "There is only one: Be yourself."
The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival
July 27-Aug. 12
For two weeks, the University of Alaska transforms itself into an arts mecca with performances by the festival choruses, opera theater, and orchestra.
Carmel Bach Festival
July 14-Aug. 5
Concerts take place in the old ballroom of the local Naval Postgraduate School, which has pleasing acoustics for oratorios, including Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" on July 15.
Montreal International Jazz Festival
June 28-July 8
Montreal proves that jazz comes in all forms, from blues and Cuban and Brazilian music, to soul, world beat, or electronic. The fest hosts such diverse musicians as Diane Krall, Wynton Marsalis, and even pop royalty Prince himself.
Aspen Music Festival
June 21-Aug. 19
World-class music in a small-town setting. This year's theme is crosscurrents, celebrating diverse artistic and cultural influences on Western classical music. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Joshua Bell are among the top-notch performers.
Music in the Mountains
July 15-Aug. 5
This relatively new series features the festival's orchestra performing 21 concerts over three weeks in the San Juan Mountains. Performances by cellist Wendy Warner and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony are among the highlights.
International Festival of Arts & Ideas
In its sixth year, the festival will feature Cole Porter's Tony-Award-winning "Kiss Me, Kate," the Aerial Dance Company, and jazz pianist Danilo Perez. The Metropolitan Opera will perform "Tosca."
The Norfolk Chamber Music Festival
July 7-Aug 26
The festival plays out on 70 acres of rolling lawns, gardens, and historic buildings in this rural town. The program features the hot young new music group Eighth Blackbird, and 80-year-old African-American singer William Warfield will make his Norfolk debut in a concert of spirituals.
Key West Theatre Festival
June 28-July 8
The island city will host three world-premiere plays, a Key West Pops Concert, and a seminar with two nationally renowned playwrights, Jon Robin Baitz and Tina Howe.
June 8-Sept. 8
This international arts festival, set on the North Shore 25 miles from Chicago, offers more than 150 performances, including Wynton Marsalis, Yo-Yo Ma, Lyle Lovett, and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Grant Park Music Festival
June 16-Aug. 18
This free lakefront concert series opens with Ravel's "Sheherazade," and mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves with the Grant Park Symphony. In 2003, the festival will move to a state-of-the-art music pavilion designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.
Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival
June 20-Aug. 26
The country's oldest and most renowned dance festival features 10 weeks of performances from the Mark Morris Dance Group, Twyla Tharp Dance Company, and Urban Bush Women
Williamstown Theater Festival
June 20-Aug. 19
For 11 weeks every summer, Williamstown presents 11 new plays and classic productions. This year, look for a world premiere, a rarely performed New Orleans jazz musical, and the first major revival of an early Arthur Miller play.
413-597-3400 (as of June 6)
Pine Mountain Music Festival
June 12-July 20
Lush nature is the setting for the decade-old festival. On July 11, "The Children of the Keweenaw," an opera written in tribute to a union organizer who defended mine workers during a 1913 strike, will have its world premiere.
Caramoor International Music Festival
June 23-Aug. 11
Pianist Helene Grimaud, who's been hailed by critics for her "fire-breathing manner," will kick off the festival by playing a Rachmaninoff concerto with the Orchestra of St. Luke's. Other performers include Broadway star Audra McDonald and the Bel Canto Opera.
New York City
JVC Jazz Festival
The JVC jazz festivals will take place around the globe, from May through October. Its New York date features a tribute to John Coltrane June 22.
American Dance Festival
June 7-July 21
Watch as 400 dancers perform in 39 varied works in the festival's 68th season. The festival includes performances by the Paul Taylor and Merce Cunningham dance companies, while Meredith Monk's "The House" makes its premiere.
June 21-Aug. 3
An outdoor series of dance, theater, music, and cabaret performances, highlighted by "The Sound of Music."
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Now through Oct. 29
As far as Shakespeare festivals go, this one is the granddaddy of them all. "The Tempest," "The Merchant of Venice," and "The Merry Wives of Windsor" are among the works being staged this year.
Spoleto Festival U.S.A.
Now through June 10
This spectacular and diverse two-week festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with performances from the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, a staging of Puccini's opera "Manon Lescaut," and a humorous adaptation of Carolo Goldoni's "A Servant to Two Masters."
Theater under the stars
Through Aug. 19
Watch as drama unfolds under the nighttime sky. Plays include "Smokey Joe's Cafe" and "Pump Boys and Dinettes."
Big Bands on the Bay Music and Dance Series
Through Aug. 26
Enjoy the sounds of big bands every Sunday night through Labor Day.
Aug. 31-Sept. 3
Bumbershoot, an archaic English term for umbrella, hosts more than 2,500 artists of every genre, including poets, painters, dancers, and acrobats.
July 27-Aug. 13
Offering easy access to North Cascades National Park and glaciated Mount Baker, Bellingham attracts distinguished soloists like mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and noted cellist Carter Brey.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor