The English city of Liverpool, will hold the 2023 Eurovision song contest, the BBC announced on Friday, after Britain stepped in to host the event due to the war in Ukraine.
“It’s Liverpool, 13th May,” said the BBC’s Eurovision show presenter Graham Norton announcing the result live on television after the shortlist was whittled down to Liverpool or Glasgow.
Singer Sonia Evans, who hails from Liverpool and represented the UK in the 1993 contest, said she was “absolutely over the moon” by the choice.
“We are going to have the biggest party ever,” she said.
“Liverpool has the music history of the whole world. It ticks all the boxes.”
The northwestern English city was famously home to The Beatles as well as a host of other big names from Gerry and the Pacemakers to Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
Ukraine had been due to host the contest after Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra in May won the Eurovision crown, on a wave of support for their country following Russia’s invasion.
The group beat 24 competitors in the finale in Turin with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.
“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azоvstal right now,” frontman Oleh Psiuk appealed in English from the stage, referring to the port city’s steelworks where Ukrainian soldiers had been surrounded by Russian forces for weeks.
Britain’s entrant Sam Ryder came second this year, with his quirky song “Space Man”.
But despite protests from President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government,the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs Eurovision, in June ruled that Ukraine could not guarantee the safety of the more than 10,000 people involved in the production and a further 30,000 fans expected to attend.
– World’s biggest live event –
The government in Kyiv vowed to fight the decision but later agreed to a UK-hosted event with a strongly Ukrainian flavour.
Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said that after “several rounds” of discussion, the EBU had given assurances of an “extremely high integration of Ukrainian context and presenters”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the time said that it had been agreed with Zelensky that “wherever Eurovision 2023 is held, it must celebrate the country and people of Ukraine”.
“As we are now hosts, the UK will honour that pledge directly -– and put on a fantastic contest on behalf of our Ukrainian friends,” added Johnson, who was replaced as PM by Liz Truss last month.
Eurovision is the world’s biggest live music event, taking in performers from across Europe and Central Asia as well as Israel and Australia.
It will be produced in the UK by the BBC.
In line with Eurovision rules, Ukraine is still guaranteed a place in the 2023 grand final along with the EBU’s “top five” countries: Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson last month tweeted that “nowhere throws a party quite like us”, adding that the city was ready to “put on a show for Ukraine, the UK & for Europe”.
The UK has previously hosted the contest eight times, including four times in London.
The last time was in Birmingham in central England in 1998.
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