With opening ceremonies for Utah's third annual World Folkfest taking place Friday in Salt Lake City, 500 dancers from around the world have converged on Utah for nine days of dancing and other festivities.

"Our performers this year come from almost every region of the globe," said festival director George M. Frandsen. "They have raised nearly $500,000 to pay for transportation and spent untold hours in rehearsal, and hundreds of thousands of dollars on costumes in preparation for their World Folkfest performances."For many, this trip to Utah is the first time they have been abroad. While we here are learning more of their culture and folkways, we hope we can give them a better understanding of the culture and traditions of the American people. Folk festivals foster peace and understanding among nations through the warm personal contacts that develop when peoples of many lands sing and dance together."

Activities of the Folkfest will take place in Salt Lake City Aug. 12-13, and in Springville and Provo Aug. 15-20. Events are scheduled as follows:

Aug. 12: Parade, Main Street Salt Lake City, 4:30 p.m. Concert by all groups, Symphony Hall, 8 p.m.

Aug. 13: Symphony Hall, concert by groups from Poland, Hungary, China, Thailand and the USA, 2 p.m.; concert with all participants, 8 p.m.

Aug. 15: Parade, Springville, from City Hall to Springville Museum of Art, 5 p.m. Opening performance, Springville Folkfest Theater, near Springville High School, all groups, 7:30 p.m. A street dance will follow, with the public invited.

Aug. 17: Concert at Marriott Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, featuring groups from Thailand, China, Hungary, Poland and Turkey, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 18: Concert at World Folkfest Theater, Springville High, all groups, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 19: Concert at World Folkfest Theater, Springville High, all groups, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 20: Picnic, Springville City Park, 11 a.m., public invited. Parade from Springville City Hall to Springville Museum of Art, 5 p.m.; closing performance at World Folkfest Theater, Springville, all groups, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets range from $7 to $9 in Symphony Hall. In Springville all seats are general admission, with adults $6, senior citizens $5, children under 12 $3, and families up to six members $20. They may be reserved by calling Springville 489-3657; Symphony Hall, 363-7681; or the Marriott Center, 378-5666, or purchased at the door.

The 16 groups participating include the following:

The Ambikaila Folk Dancers from All Saints' Village in Antigua bring Calypso music and blend African and colonial influences of the Caribbean in "carnival" celebration. They have danced in Europe but never before in the United States.

The Beijing Folk Troupe, winners of many honors including top prize at China's prestigious Beijing Dance Competition, will officially represent the People's Republic of China. Their dances come from six of China's nationalities, accompanied by traditional instruments.

From Cyprus comes Vraka of Nicosia, with two national origins - Greeks and Turks. Veterans of many European and African festivals, they will also be in the United States for the first time.

The Oestjydske Folkdancers from Hoejbjerg, Denmark, wear the colorful folk costumes of their native regions, copied from the 1750-1850 era with painstaking authenticity. They will dance only in Salt Lake City before continuing on to the West Coast.

Roudelet Filibren of Marseilles, France, founded in 1927, specializes in historic dances of the Mediterranean region, including gigue, gavotte, contradanse, fricassee, minuet and quadrille. Music, dance and peasant costumes are carefully researched and preserved. Winners of many first prizes throughout Europe, they will be in North America for the first time.

Kek Duna (Blue Danube) comes from Szentendre, Hungary, a village dating to Roman times and rich in tradition. Its members perform dances from every part of Hungary, with a five-member folk orchestra.

Askara of Bombay, India, is a 40-member ensemble of award-winning students in the arts, ages 16-30, whose dances portray the beauty of India. Askara most recently represented India at Russian's Festival of India in Moscow.

Krida Budaya of Jakarta, Indonesia, will represent the folklore of Borneo Java, Sumatra, Celibes and Bali - 27 provinces in all - in a broad repertory ranging from Islamic dance to exotic Bali court dance.

The Folk Group of Quartu St. Elena, Sardinia, Italy, also widely toured throughout Europe, features the music by the talented Quartet of the Four Cavaliers.

The University of the East Dance Troupe, from Manila, Philippines, founded in 1951, makes its first appearance in the United States since 1960, though widely traveled in Europe and the Orient. Their unusual, exotic instruments include gongs, percussion and reeds.

Biawena, from Biala-Podlaska, Poland, is comprised of dancers and musicians who are also workers at the Biawena Wool Factory. They've been featured widely on television and have won many international prizes.

Ritza is the Soviet representative to the World Folkfest, from the Caucasus Mountains of the Georgian Republic on the Black Sea, and their men perform feats of strength and agility.

The Classical Dance and Music Group from Bangkok consists of children 7-12, in dances from all regions of Thailand, many of them story dances, with exotic costumes and unique instruments.

Sing-Spiel-und Trachtengruppe of Rueddingshause, West Germany, includes in its repertory song and dance of Oktoberfest. They will dance only in Springville.

Istanbul Bahcelievler Foklor Dernegi, Turkey's most respected traditional dance troupe, has performed in every country of Europe, and in Asia, Canada and the United States. They expresss influences of both Europe and Asia.

Salt Lake City's own Rocky Mountain Folk Dancers, the host organization, has completed eight international tours. Their repertory is based on the pioneer, colonial and mountain folklore of America.

The World Folkfest has the endorsement of the world's two leading folk organizations - the International Organization of Folk Art (IOF) and the Council of International Folk Festival Organizations (CIOFF), both of which are affiliated with UNESCO.