The first contest was held in Copenhagen, Denmark in November 2003. 16 countries competed in total with Croatia's Dino Jelušić taking the title with his song Ti si moja prva ljubav (You Are My First Love). The second competition was organised in Lillehammer by Norwegian broadcaster NRK after the United Kingdom and later Croatia, declined to host the contest. Since 2004 broadcasters had the right to bid to host the competition which also took pressure off the young performers since the winning country would not necessarily have to stage the contest the following year.
Over the years a total of 37 countries have competed in the competition. This includes Serbia and Montengro which participated for one year only, in 2005, prior to the dissolution of the country. Serbia made its debut as an independent country in 2006 and Montenegro followed in 2014.
Initially the winner of Junior Eurovision was decided by televoting but from 2008 the winner was chosen through a 50% televote and 50% national jury vote. In 2016 the winner was decided solely through the use of juries and an expert panel. 2017 saw the return of the public vote and accounted for 50% of the final result.