Toronto's Luminato Festival of Arts and Creativity launched on Friday and promises to be a feast for art lovers during its 10-day run.

"We have a unique opportunity not only to have the visual arts represented but all the performing arts represented as well, including literature," Tony Gagliano, co chair and organizer of the festival, told CTV News.

"I mean it's an incredible smorgasbord of the arts."

The festival will feature more than 100 hundred events in the downtown core, many of them free for the public.

Gagliano, CEO of St. Joseph's Communications, and co-founder David Pecaut, who is a senior partner with the Boston Consulting Group, came up with the idea for the arts festival in 2002.

Pecaut explained Toronto was still reeling from the after effects of SARS and needed a new initiative to attract tourists and get people excited about what the city could offer.

"We wanted something sustainable, something that would be attracting tourists into the future, and festivals are a great way to take the city's brand out and tell people we're a creative city, not just during Luminato but during the other 52 weeks of the year," Pecaut said.

Artists from all over the world are slated to attend including Canadian icon Leonard Cohen, Lizt Alfonso's Danza Cuba, works by director Atom Egoyan and author James Patterson.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to turn out for the festival and it's hoped the scope of the events and the audience will continue to grow over the years.

"There is an opportunity for subsequent years to bring in tens-of-millions and hundreds-of-millions of dollars of incremental revenue and activity," Gagliano said.

The Luminato festival kicks of with an opening night free concert at Garden Court at Bay Street's BCE Place.

Performers Chantal Kreviazuk, Gordie Sampson, Molly Johnson and the Muhtadi International Drummers will perform.