The first Babylon International Festival since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq kicked off Thursday at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Babylon, Anadolu Agency reported.
The opening ceremony of the five-day event included a speech by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi followed by a host of shows and performances, including music, dance, and folk arts.
In a statement, the Iraqi Culture Ministry said representatives of 54 countries including Russia, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Egypt, Syria, and Kuwait will take part in the festival.
The ancient Iraqi city, once the capital of the ancient Mesopotamian state of Babylonia, is renowned for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, as well as the Hammurabi Obelisk and the Lion of Babylon.
The Babylon International Festival, which was first held in 1985, has not returned to the country since 2003 due to the US invasion of Iraq and the deterioration of the security situation in the ensuing years.