Summer may be over, but the local arts scene is heating up as the Youth Arts Festival approaches. Hong Kong's largest arts event aims to provide young people with the chance to perform in high quality shows and flaunt their artistic talent. The festival, which runs from October 30 to December 4, will feature an array of workshops, exhibitions and performances. Kicking off the festival is Arts in the Plaza, a fun-filled carnival featuring 40 art stalls by local schools. Three hours of non-stop dance and musical performances will be provided by more than 20 arts groups. (October 30, 2pm to 5pm, Village Square, Stanley Plaza). Fame (above) is the festival's showcase performance. The upbeat musical will star 80 budding performers aged 12 to 25 and a live rock band. (November 18 to 26, Hong Kong Arts Centre). Six hundred young singers, dancers and actors auditioned for the show. Written by Jacques Levy and Steven Margoshes, Fame traces the hopes, friendships and love lives of a group of aspiring students from New York's legendary High School of Performing Arts. Gretchell Yaneza, 17, will play Carmen Diaz. The talented singer from Rosaryhill School played the female lead in last year's Youth Arts Festival performance of Footloose. Despite the pressures of exams and family, Gretchell said she was determined to perform in Fame because being on stage gives her a chance to explore her emotions and cut loose. The reaction and cheers from the audience provide inspiration, she said. 'It doesn't matter what character you play. Once you blend into the character, you make magic. The audience is able to dream with you.' The stage is just one place for art. Environmental art project Urban Jungle (far left) is out to prove that nature is a platform of beauty of its own. It gave 300 students the chance to take a close look at some of the marvels of nature in Hong Kong. Led by teacher and environmentalist Katie Flowers and local artists, the students visited such places as Kadoorie Farm Botanical Gardens, Brides Pool in Tai Po and Tai Po Kau Forest. Many students hadn't experienced the freedom of roaming in nature, said Flowers. 'Some were very worried about mosquitoes and getting dirty', she recalled. 'Some even used tissues to hold leaves and twigs.' But as they started to relax and enjoy themselves, they became more interactive with their surroundings. The students made a record of their experience using photographs, 3D sculptures and collages. Their finished art pieces - which were made with environmentally friendly materials - will be on display, along with guided tours and workshops. (November 2 to 30, Hong Kong Arts Centre). Jasmine Yu, 15, and her schoolmates from Lok Sin Tong Yu Kan Hing Secondary School made a two metre tall installation using branches and leaves. 'We were a bit bewildered when we were asked to collect branches and leaves because we never used these as materials before,' Jasmine said. 'These neglected objects are treasures of nature. We stored them in a bottle decorated with paintings so that people can appreciate their beauty.' Meanwhile, comic fans shouldn't miss the chance to see hundreds of zany drawings by Belgian cartoonists, including Herge's Tintin and Pierre Culliford's Swurfs (left). Belgian artist Frank Pe will make a guest appearance and host workshops for the public. (November 2 to 7, Hong Kong Central Library; November 11 to 15, The Arcade, Cyberport). The festival will wrap up with an arts fun day with Italian Street Painting Spettacolare as its highlight. Led by Tracy Lee Stum, painters from the US will use the sidewalk as their canvas to create colourful art with chalk, re-creating a popular art form in Italy during the 16th century. There will also be stalls selling CDs and painting materials. (December 3 to 4, 9am to 6pm, Tong Chong Street, Taikoo Place). Visit www.hkyaf.com for the Youth Arts Festival schedule or call 2877 2625 for enquiries.