Eurovision: 'Liverpool is brimming with pride and joy'

·5 min read
Fans pose at Liverpool Lime Street station
The city is buzzing with life, music and many, many sequins

For seven months Liverpool has waited for this day, beating six other cities shortlisted for the honour of hosting Eurovision on behalf of war-torn Ukraine.

All eyes are now firmly on the city.

The place is "abuzz" according to the city region mayor, while Claire McColgan of Culture Liverpool said the scouse capital was "full of love, compassion and joy".

Events have been taking place for weeks, with fans flocking to the Pier Head fan area from Europe and beyond, with all ticketed events sold out in record time.

With 150 million viewers tuning in worldwide, Liverpool is front and centre on a truly global stage.

Among the many fans is Remi, from French website Eurovision Quotidien, who said the atmosphere in Liverpool was "amazing".

"Eurovision is in the railway station, in the street, the shops, the library, the book shops, the universities, even the schools are involved.

"[It's] everywhere. I think it is incredible," he said. "It is the capital of Eurovision, it is a true Eurovision city."

Fans arrive at the M&S Arena
Eurovision super fans are in Liverpool for Europe's biggest party

Oksana Skybinska, head of the Ukraine delegation at Eurovision, said seeing the Ukrainian colours of yellow and blue across the city was "comforting".

"It feels really precious that the city really wants to make this Eurovision of Ukrainian spirit," she said.

The UK is hosting the international song contest on behalf of last year's winners Ukraine and Ms Skybinska said from the beginning of the bidding process it was clear Liverpool was the best choice.

Eurovision fans at Liverpool's Albert Dock
Fans have turned up to Liverpool city centre in their droves

"It was quite obvious that Liverpool would make it in the best possible way because of the openness of the city and the people."

She said the city had been "ready to embrace other nations and other people", adding, "it is a beautiful combination of Liverpool and Ukraine".

Katie Walderman, BBC North West Tonight

Women pose at Eurovision heart
The heart of Eurovision has become a popular photo spot

Liverpool is absolutely buzzing! Full of life, music and many, many sequins!

You can't pass a shop front for disco balls and window art, with businesses creating limited edition menus and cocktails.

And everywhere you look, there are people with smiles on their faces, draped in flags and costumes, humming the chorus to one of the Eurovision ear worms.

Even the weather has been better than forecasts predicted, with the sun shining on the city.

Scousers working in town are able to pop out on their lunch breaks and soak up the atmosphere, sampling traditional Ukrainian food, while pausing at a passing pop up act, like Sam Ryder at the Albert Dock - or Sophie Ellis-Bexter playing a kitchen disco in John Lewis.

The council's two week EuroFestival has meant that you don't need golden tickets to the arena shows, with 24 cultural events and commissions taking place around the city - and nine days worth of free concerts in the EuroVillage.

It's meant thousands of kids have been able to watch The English National Opera performing classics on the city's iconic waterfront and school children across the region have been taught to say 'hello' in Ukrainian.

Liverpool is brimming with pride and joy - the legacy of which will last a lifetime.

Mel Giedroyc, one of the commentators, said the buzz in the area was "extraordinary".

"I was in the arena for the second semi-final and I thought the arena was going to lift off at one point... the atmosphere is just phenomenal."

But speaking to BBC Breakfast, she spoke of the "balance of coverage", adding: "It's very, very poignant.

"I think you feel that kind of poignancy wherever you are in Liverpool... we need to honour them, and we need to give them a good show."

Both Liverpool City Council and Liverpool City Region (LCR), have contributed £2m towards the cost of the contest and have been delighted by how people have embraced it.

LCR Mayor Steve Rotheram told BBC Radio Merseyside: "The whole place is abuzz... it reminds me of what happened in 2008 and the buzz with the European Capital of Culture.

"But the excitement... I was stopped on the street yesterday by the president of the superfans of Eurovision who said he'd been to 10 [Eurovisions] and he had never experienced anything like he is experiencing in Liverpool at the moment."

Director of Culture Liverpool at Liverpool City Council Claire McColgan CBE said the people of Liverpool had "come out and wrapped their arms around Ukraine".

"I believe culture is a part of everyday life and it matters to this city," she said.

"People in Liverpool get that, its the most incredible city creatively."

Eurovision 2023 banner
Eurovision 2023 banner

Ms McColgan reflected on how the city had grown in confidence since the Capital of Culture events.

"I can feel the difference in the city, we are confident now," she said. "It feels like a whole generation in this city now expects this," she said, "we go big or go home".

"It's been an incredible six months in the life of this city.

"And Liverpool and Eurovision go together really well, especially in these circumstances. It is a great party and celebration but is also full of love, compassion and joy.

"I'm so proud of the city, I'm so proud to live here. We did it Liverpool!"

Men dressed in Verka Serduchka outfits
Watching the contest on home soil has been described as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity"

Eurovision researcher and commentator Prof Brian Singleton, from Trinity College, Dublin, has been to 13 Eurovision Song Contests and said the city has "embraced" the event.

"It's just everywhere," he said. "You can't escape it and I just love that."

He said the contest was becoming more mainstream in recent years and was being taken more seriously with artists gaining fame "despite what the results are".

"You don't have to win it now to be really successful," he said. "It's the biggest TV show in the world".

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