Cyprus has successfully qualified for the Eurovision final on Saturday, following Silia Kapsis’ performance of ‘Liar’ during the first semi-final in Malmo, Sweden.

The 17-year-old Australian-Cypriot kicked off the event on Tuesday. Kapsis qualified Cyprus alongside Serbia, Portugal, Slovenia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Finland, Croatia, Ireland, Luxembourg.

Fans in quirky and glittery outfits waved flags from the participating countries inside the arena, with many dressed up as their favourite contestant or in their national colours.

Croatia’s Baby Lasagna (real name Marko Purisic, 28) and Ukrainian duo, alyona alyona 28, and Jerry Heil, 32, are both among bookmakers’ top five together with Italy, Netherlands and Switzerland to win the music kitsch-fest.

Streaming data from Spotify also suggests a strong chance for host nation Sweden.

“For Ukraine this is a big platform … I think this is the place where you can state your mind freely, openly and for the world to listen,” Ukrainian fan Victoria said, as she arrived ahead of the show.

Ukraine’s folk-inflected pop song “Teresa & Maria”, which has a strong dance beat and fast-paced rap, is about union, kindness and love, as well as the resilience and strength of women, according to its performers.

Eurovision fans Ross Stewart and Ivo Vasilev from Britain arrived ahead of the show dressed as Croatia’s Baby Lasagna.

“We tried to recreate it with what we could buy off Amazon. So we decided, because he’s performing tonight, to dress up as him,” Stewart said.

The artist’s entry “Rim Tim Tagi Dim” is about a young Croatian who leaves his home aspiring to become a “city boy” with better opportunities.

The first semi-final also featured a performance by Greek popstar Eleni Foureira, who sang her song ‘Fuego’, which brought Cyprus second place in the competition in 2018.

Security was high around Malmo arena, but police said the evening went as planned.