From classical to avantgarde, there’s something for everyone at outdoor festivals this spring and summer

Creating a lineup for the Toronto Summer Music festival is a challenging two- to three-year planning process. Though top names book up quickly, this year’s event (July 11-Aug. 3) is chock full of high-calibre performers, curated by artistic director Jonathan Crow.

We definitely look for the artists who are celebrated around the world for their exceptional performances and who like to engage with the audience,” says TSM’s executive director Vanessa Goymour.

It goes beyond that. Artists are selected for their openness to serve as mentors to Academy fellows – musicians who are launching their professional careers, as part of the TSM’s Emerging Artists Program.

Fellows learn a new repertoire each week before performing alongside their mentors at a ReGeneration series of concerts (held Saturdays).

They’re not just coaching the fellows, but working together as colleagues,” explains Goymour. “This kind of networking is a priority for us. It’s a very special part of who we are.

This year’s festival is a chance to welcome artists from around the globe to share their artistry through free concerts and ticketed events as part of 2024′s Voices Within theme.

To kick things off, a playful, new interpretation of Purcell’s masterpiece The Fairy Queen is ready for opening night (July 11). The opera is set in an enchanted forest, where reality mingles with dreams, illusion and the supernatural.

Other mainstage concerts include performances by Ukrainian pianist Vadym Kholodenko (July 18), gold-medal winner of the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, acclaimed mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly (July 16) and Innu soprano Elisabeth St-Gelais (July 30).

Crowd favourites Canadian Brass are the headliners on July 25, while newcomers Schmaltz & Pepper make their debut on July 23 in a fun evening of original klezmer and Yiddish music arrangements.

Audiences have 60 events to choose from with concerts, master classes and artist chats. Judging by last year, many performances will sell out, so don’t wait to get tickets.

Here’s a sampling of other arts events to put in your calendar.

NXNE Music Festival (June 12-16)

Since 1995, the North by Northeast (NXNE) event prides itself on making great music accessible for everyone. Many big names in music, including Feist, the Weeknd, Sam Roberts and Lizzo, played intimate gigs at NXNE before they became famous.

Luminato Festival Toronto (June 6-16)

The international arts festival dedicated to works of art that blur the lines between the traditional artistic boundaries around theatre, dance, music and visual art. It promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that celebrates local and national and international talent.

Inside Out (May 24-June 1)

For more than three decades, the Toronto festival has offered film and video created by and about 2SLGBTQ+ people. It’s the largest event of its kind, drawing crowds to artist talks, panel discussion, installations and social events and screenings of 180-plus films from Canada and around the world.

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival (May 1- 31)

The work of Canadian and international photography and lens-based artists is in focus during the 28th edition of this popular citywide festival. Exhibitions and public art installations will explore issues around anti-colonialism, community building and Afrofuturism through exhibitions and public art installations across Toronto. Highlights include works by Nuits Balnéaires, Arielle Bobb-Willis, Felicia Byron and June Clark.