Wimbledon Theatre's annual Cannizaro Park Festival, one of the capital's leading annual outdoor events, opens this weekend in Wimbledon. The four-week arts festival - held from Sunday 14 July to Sunday 11 August 2002 in a purpose-built, 700-seat, open-air arena in the south London park - is expected to attract more than 20,000 visitors this year.

Theatre highlights in this year's schedule include a production of West Side Story (23-27 July), Leonard Bernstein's Romeo & Juliet-inspired musical about New York gangs, performed by a 30-strong cast drawn from the School of Music Theatre; a Hamlet (30 July-3 Aug) care of Attic Theatre Company, which has previously presented Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Cannizaro; a "Magic of the Musicals" evening of show tunes; and a Gilbert & Sullivan Gala Concert, featuring soloists from dedicated G&S revivalists D'Oyly Carte.

Following a Party in the Park celebration this Sunday, the festival's main performance schedule begins and ends with opera. In the first week, London City Opera's staged production of Puccini's Madam Butterfly (16-18 July) is sung in Italian by sopranos Fiona O'Neil and Constance Novis; in the last week, there will be several evening concerts featuring music from opera favourites including La Traviata, The Marriage of Figaro and La Boheme.

The festival also features a variety of other music, dance, comedy and children's events. For full information, visit the festival website.

- by Terri Paddock