The City of London Festival opens tonight, and runs at various venues throughout the capital's commercial heart until 12 July 2001. Offering an extensive multi-arts programme, it will occupy a number of locations from St Paul's and the Barbican Centre, to the City's livery halls and churches.

Among the highlights, Jonathan Miller will direct Handel's Tamerlano at Sadler's Wells on 27, 28 & 30 June, with The English Concert under Trevor Pinnock. Students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama are to present the musical Rags from 3 July at the GMSD Theatre. Based on the story of early 20th-century European immigrants arriving in America, the music is by Charles Strouse with lyrics from Stephen Schwartz.

Other events include the Literary Series talks, featuring former National Theatre director Sir Richard Eyre in conversation at Stationers' Hall on 10 July. Elsewhere, the London Community Gospel Choir joins forces with Courtney Pine in St Paul's Cathedral, Sir Colin Davis conducts Berlioz and Independence Day will be celebrated by the Herb Miller Orchestra.

Lunchtime enthusiasts will be able to access the Packed Lunch offerings, with an international line-up of acts in and around the Square Mile. The Spitz Series will see a world music selection at the popular Spitz venue in Spitalfields, whilst the Rush-Hour Series aims to entice commuters into a number of lesser known venues to avoid the evening crush. Concerts scheduled include the Belcea Quartet playing Schubert at St Vedast-alias-Foster on 27 June.

- by Gareth Thompson