The 56th International Children's Festival in Sibenik, the only Croatian children's festival and one of the few in the world with such a long tradition, was opened at a ceremony in the packed square outside St Jacob's Cathedral, a landmark of that coastal Croatian city, on Saturday evening.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said that she was at the event not only as the official patron but also also a great friend of the festival.

The festival, closing on July 2, will include over 140 plays, puppetry and musical programmes featuring artists from Croatia and 15 other countries. The aim is to turn Sibenik for two weeks into the centre of a magical children's world, festival director Maja Trlaja told reporters in Zagreb recently.

One of the festival's aims is to encourage artistic expression and creativity among children, notably in music, theatre, literature, painting, puppetry and film. This year's festival is special because of the 950th anniversary of the first mention of the City of Sibenik.

The festival is a multidisciplinary multimedia cultural event, "which not only displays but invites participation actively," according to the information on the festival's website.

"It is a review of the best works for children as well as of the best works by children. The basic cultural and pedagogical justification of the festival is that it promotes aesthetical education of children and young adults, and develops all artistic forms of children’s creativity. The festival not only initiates, but also stimulates many ideas in art forms for children and by children: dramatic and music arts, puppetry, film, literature and visual arts."

"The concept and humanitarian aims of the festival have the full support of the UNICEF and UNESCO, as well as the permanent sponsorship of the President of Croatia."

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