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Royalty, Hannah Waddingham and the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe: Seven stand-out moments of Eurovision | Ents & Arts News

A night like no other, this year’s Eurovision was an extravaganza of musical legends and royalty, show-stopping acts and political statements – despite President Zelenskyy’s ban from sharing a message during the show.

Hosts Graham Norton, Hannah Waddingham, Ukrainian TV star Julia Sanina, and Alesha Dixon guided Eurovision fans through 26 performances, and the lengthy voting process that followed.

If you didn’t catch the four-hour show, or simply want to remind yourselves of the best bits – you’re in the right place. Here are the biggest moments of the night.

The Princess of Wales played the piano in the opening sequence
The Princess of Wales played the piano in the opening sequence

Musical royalty

Rumours had swirled of a surprise appearance, but while many had thought that maybe Sir Paul McCartney may get involved (spoiler – he didn’t), it was real royalty rather than pop royalty who made an appearance.

The Princess of Wales gave a pre-recorded piano performance in the show’s opener, dressed in a one-shoulder blue gown against a backdrop of sparking chandeliers.

And if that wasn’t enough, Queen star Roger Taylor accompanied a very sparkly Sam Ryder on the drums as he performed his latest single Mountain and Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus advised potential Eurovision winners of the “life-changing” effects of winning the show.

Austria’s Teya & Salena singing Who The Hell Is Edgar?

Who The Hell Is Edgar?

One of the most talked about acts of the night, Austria’s Teya & Salena kicked-off the competition with a spirited performance of Who The Hell Is Edgar?

Wearing black and white jumpsuits, and with a host of black and red clad backing dancers on the video screens behind them, they reminisced about being possessed by the ghost of literary great, Edgar Allan Poe.

An ode of sorts to the late 19th Century American writer, their song also gave a shout-out to Shakespeare and a loaded dig at how little artists get paid by streaming sites. An eclectic mix, but they somehow pulled it off.

Let 3 sing Mama SC!

Getting political

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was barred from making an address at the grand final, but that didn’t stop some of the acts taking steps to “politicise” the content.

Read more
The Eurovision grand final as it happened
Eurovision Song Contest 2023 in pictures

The song of Ukrainian act Tvorchi, Heart Of Steel, was inspired by the siege of Mariupol, and specifically the defence of the Azovstal iron and steel works. It later came to light that the duo’s university home town Ternopil had come under fire from Russian missiles at around the time they took to the stage.

Kalush Orchestra performing Voices of a New Generation

Croatia’s Let 3 performed Mama SC! in front of two giant nuclear warheads stuffed with giant lit sparklers with their lyrics including the line “Mama bought a tractor” which is understood to be in reference to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko who bought Vladimir Putin a tractor for his 70th birthday, and another line mocking dictators for being “psychopaths”.

And Czechia’s Vesna sang part of their song, My Sister’s Crown, in Ukrainian, with part of their lyrics translating as: “You are so strong, brave and the only one, the crown is yours, my beautiful sister”.

A large portion of the celebrity spokespeople giving their country’s jury votes also expressed their solidarity with Ukraine.

Lord Of The Lost sing Blood And Glitter

The novelty acts

With one of the wackiest of the acts of the night – Kaarija’s hyper-pop-rap tune Cha Cha Cha – coming close to winning the show, the bar was set high for the more bizarre acts of the night.

Germany’s pop-metal act Lord Of The Lost bellowed Blood And Glitter with gusto that 2006 winners Hard Rock Hallelujah would have been proud of. They came ninth overall.

Croatia’s Let 3 (five mature blokes dressed in blood-stained coats and military garb) stripped off to their pants and vests mid-way through their song Mama SC!

Belgium’s Gustaph sings Because Of You

Belgian’s Gustaph hit some impressive high notes in his performance of 90s-inspired hit Because Of You in a bizarre outfit of candy floss pink trousers and an oversized cream cowboy hat. Australia clearly loved it, giving him the top score of 12 points.

Meanwhile other rather unusual stage devices and props included a metres-long skirt drop (France), a rave in a box, a very large shadow and neon pink maypole (Finland of course), and several female acts writhing around on the floor (Israel and Poland). Welcome to Eurovision.

Loreen of Sweden celebrates with the trophy after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, England, Saturday, May 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Sweden’s Loreen becomes the first ever two-time female Eurovision winner

History is made

They were favourites to win and Sweden followed through on the promise.

The country’s act, Loreen, has now made history as the first woman to win more than once after first taking the crown back in 2012.

(Irish singer Johnny Logan won the competition twice, in 1980 and 1987, in case you were wondering).

The 39-year-old’s win for dance-pop anthem Tattoo also means Sweden has drawn level with Ireland for the country with the most Eurovision wins – seven apiece.

Australia’s Voyage charge into the flag parade

Why is Australia here?

Despite being located on the opposite side of the earth, Australians are honorary Europeans for the sake of Eurovision.

Being members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) – a union of publicly funded broadcasters around the world which any country can join – gave them the right to enter.

Long-haired voyager lead singer Danny Estrin – an immigration lawyer by day and a singer by night – rocked out on the bonnet of a vintage Toyota MR2 as he performed Promise, and was well received by fans and voters alike.

This could even have been Australia’s final chance to grab the trophy – their contract with Eurovision runs out this year, so it will need to be renegotiated before next year’s contest in Sweden.

All hail the Queen of Eurovision, Hannah Waddingham
All hail the Queen of Eurovision, Hannah Waddingham

Hannah Waddingham: Eurovision Queen

And special mention has to go to Hannah Waddingham – a new host to the Eurovision stage, but a firm fan favourite after just a few weeks.

She impressed with her language skills from the off (she’s fluent in French and Italian), her indefatigability (always ready to bring that extra squeeze of fun to proceedings), her impressive singing voice (she’s also a West End and Broadway star by the way) and not one but two stunning outfits during the show.

Of course, Ted Lasso fans couldn’t have been more chuffed to see in a very different role to that of headstrong football team owner Rebecca Welton in the surprise Apple TV + hit that’s garnered a league of devotees around the world.

Let’s hope her long-time friend Graham Norton is happy to concede his position as the UK’s best loved commentator now Eurovision’s found a new queen.

And with that we sign off from Eurovision 2023 – see you in Sweden next year!

Eurovision Song Contest 2023: What fans should expect from grand final after dazzling dress rehearsal | Ents & Arts News

Licked by flames, the imposing Eurovision stage bursts into life with pyrotechnics to mark the beginning of the 67th song contest – this year being hosted by the UK on behalf of Ukraine.

A giant set of multi-coloured hands are lifted onto the stage as a remix of last year’s winning anthem – Stephania by Kalush Orchestra – blasts out, and the band steps out onto two enormous palms accompanied by an army of drummers.

It’s a press-only viewing (so really more about planning the show’s logistics than entertaining the crowd) but mutters overheard in the audience include “the best opening ceremony ever” and “it bought a tear to my eye”.

This is the first of three dress rehearsals for Saturday’s grand final – all with full costume, make-up and hair – and follows two semi-finals to whittle the competing 37 countries down to 26.

It’s a gruelling schedule as the floor manager cheerily announces: “Enjoy the show, we’re exhausted, but you’ll love it.”

The show has three directors jumping between acts, and a complex series of sets to move on and off the shiny, expansive stage.

Hosts Julia Sanina, Hannah Waddingham and Alesha Dixon during the second semi-final of the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool
Hosts Julia Sanina, Hannah Waddingham and Alesha Dixon during the second semi-final of the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool

It has been described by its designer as “a wide hug, enfolding Liverpool Arena from above and below as it opens its arms to Ukraine”.

The green room area – where artists gather when not performing on stage – sits in front of the audience.

A Ukrainian lighting designer who would normally be working on Dancing With The Stars or The Voice in his home country has come over specially to work on the show.

A quartet of presenters – Graham Norton, Hannah Waddingham, Ukrainian TV star Julia Sanina, and Alesha Dixon – introduce the show, and if the 26 acts are tired from their numerous test runs, you wouldn’t know it.

First off there’s a flag parade, with all the competing countries walking the full run of the catwalk-style stage in turn, followed by a string of Eurovision fan favourites including cult legend Verka Serduchka.

The main event

Austria open the show with Who The Hell Is Edgar? – a catchy ode (of sorts) to literary great Edgar Allen Poe. It’s a song everyone is talking about.

Wearing black and white jumpsuits, singers Teya and Salena also give a shout-out to Shakespeare in their performance, as well as a loaded dig at how little artists get paid by streaming sites.

Teya & Salena
Teya and Salena

Portugal’s Mimicat follows, in a blur of red feathers, and a strong flamenco flavour to her song Ai Coracao.

Meanwhile, Switzerland’s war-inspired Watergun is black and minimal, relying on Remo Forrer’s impressive and heartfelt lyrics advocating peace as he sings out: “I don’t wanna be a soldier”.

We’re treated to a setting sun on the big screen for Poland’s catchy Solo, so while the weather here in Liverpool may be a little damp, the sun is shining in the arena. The act gets full pyrotechnics too, bookending singer Blanka’s energetic dance interval.

A quick sweep of the stage later, and a large white sculpture – resembling a half eggshell or H R Giger-inspired skull – contains Serbia’s singer Luke Black, who belts out techno-backed Samo Mi Se Spava (which translates as I Just Want To Sleep).

Skirt drop

France’s La Zarra (the second favourite to win) is quite literally wheeled onto the stage atop a cylindrical platform, which then raises toward the sky, leaving her towering at least 10 ftabove the stage.

La Zarra from France takes part in a dress rehearsal for the Eurovision Song Contest's grand final in Liverpool, Britain, May 12, 2023. REUTERS/Phil Noble
La Zarra from France
La Zarra from France takes part in a dress rehearsal for the Eurovision Song Contest's grand final in Liverpool, Britain, May 12, 2023. REUTERS/Phil Noble

As the first chorus plays out, she slowly lowers to the ground, at which point her capacious skirts fall to the floor, before the platform is again raised to the heavens and fireworks rain to the ground around her. Clearly channelling Lady Gaga in her look, she says she first learned how to use her voice by singing along to Edith Piaf.

A barefoot and bare-chested Andrew Lambrou then makes his way solo onto the stage but while he may be alone throughout his entire song, he fills the stage with his impressive vocals.

His ballad, Break A Broken Heart, is Cyprus’s entry in the show, and gives him the chance to showcase his impressive high notes.

Spain’s Blanca Paloma enters the stage through a maroon fringed structure, with the song’s chanting anthem also serving as its title, Eaea.

Blanca Paloma from Spain takes part in a dress rehearsal for the Eurovision Song Contest's grand final in Liverpool, Britain, May 12, 2023. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Blanca Paloma from Spain
Blanca Paloma from Spain takes part in a dress rehearsal for the Eurovision Song Contest's grand final in Liverpool, Britain, May 12, 2023. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Paloma has said the song represents a “chant to her late grandmother”, who had inspired much of her music, and it’s fusion with a strong synth line gives it a Eurovision edge.

Favourite to win

Sweden’s act sees another big structure wheeled onto the stage – a rust-brown enclosure, trapping singer Loreen inside, and from which she slowly breaks free as she sings Tattoo. It’s the bookies’ favourite to win and would make Loreen the first two-time female winner of the competition.

Loreen from Sweden takes part in a dress rehearsal for the Eurovision Song Contest's grand final in Liverpool, Britain, May 12, 2023. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Loreen from Sweden

Albania’s Albina & Familja Kelmendi sing Duje (which translates as Love It), with all six band members clad in black cloaks. There are fireworks too. Plus it’s a family affair, with pop star Albina Kelmendi joined by her parents and siblings to perform the song about love and family togetherness.

For Italy’s Due Vite sung by Marco Mengoni, members of the audience are asked to light the torches on their mobile phones and wave them in the air, which the majority dutifully do. A ballad, this one is remarkably similar in staging to Cyprus’s entry (minus the bare chest and bare feet).

Beautiful in sky-blue, Estonia’s Alika plays a grand piano as she sings Bridges, before breaking out onto the wider stage to finish her song, solo throughout.

‘Rave maypole’

One of the buzziest acts of the year, Finland’s Kaarija wears his trademark neon green sleeves-only puffer jacket and bowl haircut and performs his thumping techno track against a backdrop of wooden crates, which appear to have a rave going on inside.

Kaarija, the entrant from Finland
Kaarija, the entrant from Finland
Kaarija and his shadow
Kaarija and his shadow

Using his shadow to impressive effect, his pink neon backing dancers then dance a sort of rave maypole dance behind him, before kneeling to form a centipede-like creature for him to ride.

Titled Cha Cha Cha, this is an act truly at home in Eurovision, and the audience loves it.

By the half-way point we have seen most of the classic Eurovision act staples – including large structures wheeled on and off the stage, skirts falling to the floor and more backing dancers than you can shake a stick at.

But onto the next act. It’s pastel pink and sparkles for Czechia’s (Czech Republic’s) Vesna, who contrast their floaty feminine costumes with hard-hitting lyrics including: “You can take your hands back, no one wants more boys dead, we’re not your dolls,” in their entry My Sister’s Crown.

Long-haired immigration lawyer and Voyager frontman Danny Estrin rocks out on the bonnet of a full-size car on the stage for Australia’s Duran Duran-inspired rock track Promise.

Australia entrant Voyager
Australia entrant Voyager

Belgian act Gustaph present their 90s-inspired hit, Because Of You, while wearing a bizarre outfit of candy floss pink trousers and an oversized cream cowboy hat – and hitting impressive high notes.

Armenian singer Brunette is almost a pagan presence with her waist-length hair and wafty white dress, singing Future Lover – another song about a boyfriend like the UK’s entry, but this time it’s an imaginary one.

Pop metal and ballads

Moldova’s Pasha Parfeni performed Soarele si Luna (which means The Sun And The Moon) while performing what looks like a martial art-inspired dance, with the entire song built around metaphors, folk symbols and natural elements. The song is about a wedding and includes him talking to a forest. Oh, and there are drums too.

Electronic duo Tvorchi, made up of producer Andrii Hutsuliak and vocalist Jeffery Kenny, perform Heart Of Steel for last year’s winners, Ukraine. With gold and black colours, it’s just the two of them on stage, with classical strings blasting out at points of their electro-pop track.

Tvorchi of Ukraine

Norway’s act Alessandra wears a bodice and crown in her song Queen of Kings about the power of women – which seems to be a bit of a theme in the show mirrored by acts including Czechia and Norway.

Some pop metal from Germany’s Lord Of The Lost, vocally attacking the audience with their song Blood & Glitter, performed by tattooed frontman Chris Harms in neon pink pants and leopard print tights, and platform patent shoes.

Then quite a mood change to Lithuania’s Monika Linkyte, who sings power ballad Stay in a bright tailored orange mini dress and tidy blonde bob, popping against her backing dancers dressed all in black.

‘Do you want to see me dance?’

A black cube with interior lighting enters the stage for Israel’s Noa Kirel, who sings catchy pop song Unicorn. The majority of the first verse is sung with the stage in near darkness, before she steps out of the square structure to march at the front of the stage with her monochrome backing dancers. There’s even a little rap and acrobatic solo dance break out from Kirel, who asks the audience, “Do you want to see me dance?” It’s quite something to behold and definitely the most energetic of the evening’s dance offerings.

Noa Kirel of Israel
Noa Kirel of Israel

Five pastel-clad lads with guitars and a drum set take to the stage for Slovenia’s act Joker Out, singing Carpe Diem. A bassy number reminiscent of Britpop with a bit of rock thrown in, guitar solos are the order of the day, and some audience participation in the form of clapping along as they rock out.

Quite the whacky act from Croatia – Let 3, singing Mama SC! – a strangely addictive earworm sung by five middle-aged men, who end their act by posing in front of a prop nuclear weapon sporting large fizzing fireworks.

Oh, and four of them strip off mid-song to grey-white vests and pants. The band has apparently been in trouble in the past in their homeland for performing while nude, so all in all, we have a lot to be thankful for. All standard Eurovision fare. Again, this one is well received by the audience.

Read more:
Sunak ‘disappointed’ at decision to ban Zelenskyy from making address at Eurovision
Mae Muller on nerves, the warm Liverpool welcome and her European competition
Songs that could win Eurovision and the novelty acts to look out for

And last but not least – the UK’s Mae Muller has the final spot in the competition – a decent position and certainly better than risking fading into the crowd in the middle of the show.

Mae Muller from United Kingdom takes part in a dress rehearsal for the Eurovision Song Contest's grand final in Liverpool, Britain, May 12, 2023. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Mae Muller of the UK

On a giant raised stage, she sings with her four backing dancers, and lots of bright video graphics behind – mainly large images of Muller’s face with a little pop art treatment. Coming down the stage midway, the central bridge of the song offers Muller the chance to speak directly to the audience in a spoken word section, and by the time the pyrotechnics begin I challenge you not to be tapping your feet.

Muller ends her song, blowing kisses to the crowd.

A Queen star, Abba bandmember and Sonya

Competitive performances complete, Sam Ryder enters the stage with the biggest setup of the show – a mountainous light structure from which last year’s runner-up emerges wearing a twinkling gold jumpsuit that is almost too sparkly for the human eye to bear. Around 30 backing dancers join him on stage with drums to complete the performance.

Sam Ryder performs during the dress rehearsal for the Eurovision Song Contest final
Sam Ryder performs during the dress rehearsal for the Eurovision Song Contest final

And in quite the coup, Queen drummer Roger Taylor accompanies Ryder on the drums.

Then we’re treated to a section called Liverpool Songbook, with some past Eurovision All Stars singing songs that hail from the host city.

Italy’s Soldi singer Mahmood gives us a version of John Lennon’s Imagine backed by a string quartet; Israel star Netta descends from the sky in a large silver bird and comes close to taking out several backing dancers in her performance thanks to a large gold star on her back.

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Ukrainian hopes for Eurovision

Iceland’s jumper-loving Dadi Freyr gives us a leftfield cover of Whole Again; anf Sweden’s Cornelia Jakobs performs Melanie C’s I Turn To You while splashing around in a swimming pool on stage.

Liverpool singer Sonya, who narrowly missed out on the Eurovision crown back in 1993, gives her entry Better The Devil You Know one more turn in a purple mini dress and thigh-high boots; and Netherland’s Duncan Lawrence dons a cloak to sing You’ll Never Walk Alone.

A short video then pulls together other Eurovision stars who couldn’t make the show including Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus and Italy’s 2021 winners Maneskin.

The hosts then bid farewell in English, Ukrainian and French, marking the truly collaborative nature of the event.

With seamless scene changes between the marathon of acts, the run-through ran without a hitch. It all bodes well – unless you believe the old adage – “bad dress rehearsal, good first night”.

Bring on the real show, and the winners of the Eurovision Song Contest 2023.

Sky News will be in Liverpool covering all the biggest news from the contest as it happens.

UK hosting Eurovision for Ukraine is special moment of unity, say refugees | Ents & Arts News

Ukraine’s Eurovision entry this year was written during the fall of Mariupol.

Electronic duo Tvorchi will be performing the song, Heart of Steel, in the final on Saturday.

The group told Sky News that performing it in Liverpool – despite winning last year, Ukraine is unable to host the event for obvious reasons – feels bittersweet.

“We would be happier if this could happen in Ukraine, and we didn’t experience the war and full-scale invasion,” said Andrii Hutsuliak.

“But we want to say a huge thanks to the UK for hosting it and all the support we received, it means a lot to us.”

Getting to Liverpool meant succeeding in their national competition last year in Ukraine.

The event took place in a converted underground station in the capital Kyiv.

A banner promoting the Eurovision Song Contest near The Royal Liver Building in Liverpool, Merseyside
The group won a contest held in a Kyiv underground station

It was being used as a bomb shelter but was transformed into a TV studio and stage for the night and was live-streamed as 10 acts performed for a spot in Liverpool.

The UK stepping in to host this year’s competition on their behalf means a lot to the refugees in the North West who have sought sanctuary there over the past year.

Anastasiia Spivak, 23, came to the UK six months ago to live with a host family.

Anastasiia Spivak, 23
Anastasiia says she feels ‘warm in my heart’ because of all support

Sky News met her as she was fundraising for Ukraine outside the concert venue, draped in the blue and yellow flag.

“I love seeing the Ukrainian signs, Ukrainian flag and colours everywhere I go. I really feel so warm in my heart because everyone here is really supporting our culture in many different ways,” she said.

Tetiana Naimanova, 28, is with her also raising awareness about the conflict in Ukraine.

She said: “We are so grateful to Liverpool and the UK for having us here and hosting on behalf of Ukraine.

“This is really the unity of two countries, two cultures and having all people around the world, around Europe coming here and discovering Ukraine is so special.”

Read more:
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They are both excited and proud that the Eurovision Song Contest is honouring Ukraine. It feels poignant to them both and much needed, as Tetiana explained.

“It’s really important for us to have this moment in the middle of what’s going on to find this opportunity to celebrate and to be together and to remind people that the war is still going on but we have to support each other.

“We have to do whatever we can to support Ukraine and we’re really happy that we have the opportunities here to get that support.”

Liverpool will have love and support in abundance come Saturday when they throw a party Ukraine wishes it could, and one day they hope will be able to again.

Eurovision 2023 officially kicks off in Liverpool as Frankie Goes To Hollywood reunite for opening ceremony | Ents & Arts News

Frankie Goes To Hollywood has reunited 36 years after they split up, performing in front of a 30,000 strong crowd in Liverpool in a concert to mark the start of the Eurovision Song Contest.

The band, who formed in the city in 1980 and acrimoniously parted ways seven years later performed just one song.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood's singer Holly Johnson performing in 1985. Pic: AP
Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s singer Holly Johnson performing in 1985. Pic: AP

Despite being most famous for number 1 hits including Relax, Two Tribes and The Power of Love, they instead chose to perform Welcome to the Pleasuredome which made it to number 2 in the charts in 1985.

Holly Johnson, Brian Nash, Paul Rutherford, Mark O’Toole and Peter Gill have not performed together since an argument before their final gig at Wembley Arena in 1987 is reported to have led to a fight backstage.

Other Liverpool-linked bands to perform at The National Lottery’s Big Eurovision Welcome outside St George’s Hall included Atomic Kitten, The Lightning Seeds and funk band The Real Thing.

Former Eurovision winners Conchita Wurst, who represented Austria in 2014, and Ukraine’s Jamala, who competed in 2016, accompanied by the United Ukrainian Ballet, also performed.

Liverpool has been transformed with public artworks and installations for the international music competition, which the UK is hosting on behalf of Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.

The competition kicked off in earnest on Sunday, with the 37 competing acts walking a turquoise carpet ahead of the song contest next Saturday.

Electronic duo Tvorchi, made up of producer Andrii Hutsuliak and vocalist Jeffery Kenny, will compete for Ukraine with their rousing song Heart Of Steel.

Kaarija from Finland are second favourite to win
Kaarija from Finland are second favourite to win

Last year, Kalush Orchestra swept to victory on a wave of support from the voting public.

Mae Muller, 25, will compete for the UK with her dance track I Wrote A Song, featuring tongue-in-cheek lyrics about a cheating ex-boyfriend.

Last year British TikTok star Sam Rider took second place in the competition.

Wild Youth will represent Ireland with their song We Are One.

Loreen from Sweden, Kaarija from Finland and La Zarra from France are the competition favourites.

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Mae Muller met the King in April

The Eurovision Village, at the city’s Pier Head, opened on Friday with a performance from last year’s winners Kalush Orchestra.

On Saturday, Scissor Sisters’ singer Jake Shears performed there after a screening of the King’s coronation.

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A total of 37 countries are set to take part in Eurovision this year, with Ukraine automatically qualifying for the grand final as 2022 winners as well as the so-called “big five” – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – who each get a free pass because of their financial contributions to the event.

The first Eurovision semi-final will take place on Tuesday, followed by a second semi-final on Thursday, and the grand final on 13 May.

Thousands of Eurovision tickets made available for Ukrainian refugees | UK News

Thousands of tickets for the Eurovision Song Contest will be allocated to displaced Ukrainians living in the UK.

The competition will take place at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool in May after the city was chosen to host the competition on behalf of 2022 winners Ukraine because of the Russian invasion.

As part of the UK’s commitment to honour Ukraine at the song contest, around 3,000 tickets will be made available so those forced from the country can attend the live shows.

The UK government has also announced £10m in funding to “help ensure the event truly showcases Ukrainian culture” on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the country.

The money will support Liverpool City Council and the BBC’s partnerships with Ukrainian artists and performers to create a show “celebrating music and how it unites people from around the world”.

It will also support security and visa arrangements, as well as other operational aspects of the contest, and Liverpool City Council’s schools, community and volunteering programmes.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine means the contest cannot be held where it should be.

“But we are honoured to be supporting the BBC and Liverpool in hosting it on their behalf, and are determined to make sure the Ukrainian people are at the heart of this event.”

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Ukrainian refugees in Liverpool celebrated after the city beat Glasgow to host the contest

Ukrainian ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, added: “The UK’s steadfast support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion has been exemplary and this gesture is another example of that commitment.

“We are grateful to the UK Government, Liverpool City Council, and the BBC for their efforts to honour Ukraine’s culture and people through this event.”

The Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said that Ukraine will be “at the heart” of all of the city’s Eurovision plans.

She added: “We’re delighted with the news that displaced Ukrainians are being given the opportunity to come to the city in May – this is their Eurovision after all.”

Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra, who were triumphant at last year’s competition in Turin, Italy, will perform during the show as part of the tributes to the country.

Read more:
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Ukrainian broadcaster Timur Miroshnychenko, who has commentated on Eurovision in Ukraine since 2007, will also appear during the live shows to give insight from Ukraine’s commentary box in the arena.

This announcement comes on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion which forced millions of Ukrainians from their homes, with many finding refuge in the UK.

Those who are based in the UK through the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Ukraine Extension Scheme will be able to apply for tickets for the song contest.

Tickets for displaced Ukrainians have been subsided by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with a £20 charge to be applied to each sale.

Spaces will be offered for all nine live shows, including the semi-finals, the preview shows and the live final on 13 May.

Eurovision 2023: How one slightly surprising town came to be in the frame as the UK host city | UK News

Internet rumours have surfaced about Swindon being a possible host for next year’s Eurovision Song Contest, after it was ruled current winners Ukraine would not be able to stage the event.

Ukraine’s entry – folk rap group Kalush Orchestra – won the competition this year with their song Stephania, and would normally host the event the following year. However, the Russian invasion of their country presented too many security risks.

The UK was the runner up this year, and as such was invited to act as a host for the 67th Eurovision Song Contest.

And while it is still being decided in which city the event will be held, the Wiltshire town of Swindon – best known for its multi-ringed ‘magic roundabout’ – bizarrely began to creep into the fray.

Soccer Football - League Two - Swindon Town v Scunthorpe United - The County Ground, Swindon,

Twitter searches threw up various comments from locals and out-of-towners alike, including from TV critic and broadcaster Scott Bryan, who tweeted: “Give them Eurovision immediately.”

But his hopes were soon dashed after the borough council issued an official statement.

A disappointing Bryan later told his followers to “cross Swindon off your list”.

It comes as representatives from cities including London, Manchester, Glasgow, Sheffield, Aberdeen, Leeds and Hull vied for the honour of hosting duties.

The bidding process for host city will begin this week, with the BBC and European Broadcasting Union jointly making the final decision on which city will host.

Kalush Orchestra sold their Eurovision trophy
Ukraine’s winners – Kalush Orchestra. Pic:AP

Oleh Psiuk – the lead singer of Kalush Orchestra – told Sky News the band was sad the contest would not be held in Ukraine next year.

But, he added: “We are grateful to the UK for their solidarity and for agreeing to hold the event in support of our country.

“We hope Eurovision 2023 will have a Ukrainian flavour and celebrate our beautiful, unique culture. We, in turn, will make all efforts to help Ukraine win next year as well, so that Eurovision 2024 can take place in a peaceful country.”

13 May 2022, Italy, Turin: Sam Ryder from Great Britain with the title "Space Man" with the title "Trenuletul" at the first dress rehearsal for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) 2022. The international music competition will be held for the 66th time. On 14.05.2022, the winning title will be chosen in the final from a total of 40 music entries. Photo by: Jens B'ttner/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Sam Ryder came second for the UK with Space Man

Free pass

TikTok star Sam Ryder was this year’s runner up with his track Space Man – a vast improvement on the UK’s disappointing 2021 score of nil points.

Ukraine will automatically qualify for the Grand Final alongside the so-called Big Five – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – who each get a free pass because of their financial contributions.

As the world’s largest live music event, the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest reached a global audience of over 180 million viewers across TV and digital platforms.

The UK has previously hosted the event eight times – in London in 1960, 1963, 1968 and 1977, Edinburgh in 1972, Brighton in 1974, Harrogate in 1982 and Birmingham in 1998 – that’s more than any other country.