With a successful eight-year run, the International Puppet and Mime Festival of Kilkis returns as an established cultural event. This year’s fest is about to kick off with companies from Argentina, China and Europe (which includes Greece, Italy, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, Hungary and the UK). The festival’s artistic director, Spaniard Juanjo Corrales, decided to enrich the program this year with seminars, competitions, street performances, school workshops, exhibitions and other events. The city of Kilkis, which is located just north of Thessaloniki, has organized the extra programming and is already getting into the festival vibe. Greek singer and storyteller Loudovikos ton Anogeion will mark the opening on Saturday. China’s National Puppet Theater – the first national puppet theater there and founded in 1955 – will perform the play «The Great Sage Caused Havocs in Heaven,» while Christos Stanissis’s shadow-puppet theater will stage a music and theater performance with live music and Karaghiozis puppets. There are many more treats in store for eager audiences. The State Puppet Theater of Varna, from Bulgaria, will perform «Folklore Fantasies,» a cheerful play full of imagination, which is based on traditional Bulgarian motifs. France’s Tabola Rassa will present its own take on Moliere’s popular comedy «The Miser,» in which the main characters are after water instead of money, as is the case in the original. British artist Nola Rae, who has studied at the Royal Ballet School and then with Marcel Marceau, will perform «Mozart Preposterioso,» a hilarious yet also moving portrait of Mozart the clown. Italy’s Girovago & Rondella Family Theater, which was founded in Greece, will stage a circus parody, «Poetic Circus,» and the puppet-theater show with juggling and hand acrobatics «The Live Hand.» The Spasmo Teatro from Spain will present the children’s mime show «Sketching» and Argentina’s award-winning Veronica Gonzalez will perform «The Little Feet Theater,» a performance featuring puppets emerging from different parts of her body. The Hungary-based Kolibri Theater will perform «Escape from the Seraj,» a puppet adaptation of Mozart’s classic opera «Abduction from the Seraglio.» Greek participants include the Anemoptero group, which will stage the doll play «In the Land of the Big Hat,» the Tik Nik puppet theater company with their takes on classic fairy tales, Yianna Mamalouka’s puppet show with illusions and transformations, and the Baruti, at the Edge of the String company, with «Mad Cooking,» the story of a French chef’s menu preparations gone wrong. The festival will run to October 8 and performances will be held at the Kilkis Town Hall conference center, noon to 8 p.m. daily (with additional shows for schools in the mornings). For further information: tel 23410.39158, 36160 and www.kilkis-festival.gr.