The seven UK cities in line to host next year’s Eurovision Song Competition have officially been announced.
Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield make up the official shortlist announced this morning but London missed out.
London was one of the 20 cities who submitted an ‘expression of interest’ to host, with applicants demonstrating how they would reflect Ukrainian culture, music and communities.
The UK has stepped in to host the song contest after it was decided that Ukraine, which won this year’s competition, was not deemed a suitable host over ‘safety and security’ concerns.
The cities which bid were judged on a range of components including being able to host at least 10,000 people in a venue as well as having nearby access to an international airport.
The announcement was made on Friday morning by Scott Mills who was joined alongside Eurovision executive supervisor Martin Osterdahl on Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 breakfast show.
The seven cities in line to host next year’s Eurovision Song Competition have officially been announced but it does not feature London
Mr Osterdahl said: ‘We’ve waited 25 years for Eurovision to be hosted in the UK, so very excited.’
After the announcement, Mills said: ‘It’s huge, it’s a beast and it’s complicated as an event to put on.
‘But also it’s cities who have the passion to put on a contest like this, because of time, past experience with huge international events and also being able to host a celebration of modern music.
Leeds (pictured) are one of the cities who are in line to host the Eurovision concert in 2023 but it has never been held here before despite the event taking place in the UK eight times
Liverpool (pictured) will hope that it is selected as the most appropriate city to host the concert. Cities must have access to an international airport
Glasgow (pictured) is the only Scottish city which was announced on the shortlist despite interest from both Aberdeen and Edinburgh
There were 20 different cities who expressed interest in bidding, including Manchester (pictured) who have made it to the final seven
‘The next thing that happens, these cities go through to the second and final stage, they have to give a bit more detail about their plans.
‘The final, final decision gets made based on what city and region scores highest against the BBC’s criteria.’
Last year, Ukraine’s performance, which combined rap and folklore from the country, went down well with the audience of 7,000 in the Pala Olimpico, Turin, who cheered the group on with many waving Ukrainian flags.
At the end of the performance, which included break-dancing, the group thanked everyone for supporting Ukraine.
The band’s song, ‘Stefania,’ was written as a tribute to the frontman’s mother, but has transformed since Russia’s invasion on February 24 into a war anthem.
The lyrics ‘I’ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed,’ written by frontman Oleh Psiuk, are said to have taken on a special meaning in light of the war.
The six-member, all-male band received special permission to leave the country to represent Ukraine and Ukrainian culture at the music contest. One of the original members stayed to fight and the others plan to return as soon as the contest is over.
The members of Kalush Orchestra dressed in elaborate outfits, including long multi-coloured fringed ensembles, a pink bucket hat and traditional patterns as they took to the stage.
Ukraine were the winners of this year’s Eurovision Concert after the Kalush Orchestra triumphed in Turin with their song Stefania
The winners were dressed in elaborate outfits, including long multi-coloured fringed ensembles, a pink bucket hat and traditional patterns on the night
It was a great night for Sam Ryder who took second place which has led Britain to hosting next year’s Eurovision due to ‘safety and security’ concerns in Ukraine
The two-stage selection process will now move onto which city is best suited to host the famed concert, focusing on elements such as experience of holding large events.
Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Swindon and Wolverhampton all expressed an interest in hosting the event.
The UK and Sam Ryder took the runners-up place with the song Spaceman. With the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the European Broadcasting Union ruled that the event must be moved and that the UK would host the concert for a record ninth time instead.
Kate Phillips, the BBC’s director of unscripted content, said: ‘We would like to thank all of the cities and regions that submitted bids to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. We have seven fantastic cities who we are taking through to the next round.’
‘Congratulations to Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield – it’s exciting to see such a breadth of bids going through from across the UK.
‘We are committed to delivering a truly unique Song Contest that celebrates wonderful Ukraine and champions British music and creativity in all its diversity.’
Ukraine will automatically qualify for the Eurovision grand final alongside the so-called big five nations – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – who each get a free pass because of their financial contributions to the event.
On Friday, UK-based think tank and charity British Future called for Ukrainian refugees and their UK host families to be given ‘priority tickets’ to Eurovision 2023.
The host city is expected to be announced by the autumn. On the back of hosting the Commonwealth Games, Birmingham will now look to hold another major event in the city.
Natalia Kogut and her 12-year-old daughter Melisa, who sang the Ukrainian national anthem for Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Downing Street in May, was a university lecturer in Kyiv before the war, and has lived in Birmingham since March.
Mrs Kogut, whose husband is still in Ukraine, said: ‘We would be very happy if Eurovision could take place in Birmingham – the Ukrainian community is huge here.
‘I am very often here in Victoria Square on Saturdays, for meetings, and where my daughter sings to support Ukraine.’
She said it was bittersweet the Russian invasion means the contest cannot take place in her homeland, but added ‘the whole UK supports Ukraine more than any other country’.
‘I believe it should take place in the UK – and especially in Birmingham,’ she added.
Reacting to the news that Birmingham was on the shortlist, city council leader Ian Ward said: ‘We are delighted to be one of the seven shortlisted cities.
‘This is a city of sanctuary, a city who has welcomed people from around the world and made their home here.
‘We would love the honour of hosting, on behalf of Ukraine, the Eurovision song contest next year.’
Meanwhile Scottish Secretary Alister Jack is backing Glasgow to host the event. He said: ‘It’s a great privilege for the UK to honour Ukraine by hosting Eurovision 2023.
‘I’m backing Glasgow all the way to bring the contest to Scotland.
‘After the huge success of Cop26 we know our biggest city can deliver the biggest events in the world.’
Former athlete Gabby Logan has backed Leeds to host the 2023 event. As chair of LEEDS 2023, she said: ‘We are a city that has for centuries welcomed people from all over the globe with open arms; and in a region with one of the largest Ukrainian populations in the UK outside of London, the city stands ready and able to put on a dazzling show with our Ukrainian family.’
And Leeds City Council deputy leader councillor Jonathan Pryor added to Logan’s comments. He said: ‘This is fantastic news. The creative and hospitality sectors have been the most impacted from the pandemic and the effects are still being felt.
‘Eurovision presents an opportunity for our local businesses and workers to reap the immediate benefits from delivering and supporting this major event.’
How will the final decision be made?
Twenty cities submitted an ‘expression of interest’ to host, but only seven were selected.
Which cities have been shortlisted?
Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield have reached the second and final stage of the selection process.
Did any major contenders miss out?
London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced London’s bid in July but the capital does not feature on the shortlist.
How will the host city be chosen from the shortlist?
The final decision will be determined by which city scores highest against a criteria assessed by the BBC.
These include having a suitable venue and sufficient space to host the contest, the financial commitment it is able to make and the strength of its cultural offering both on and off screen.
For the 2022 event in Turin, Italy, the criteria included the host city being able to accommodate at least 10,000 spectators as well as a press centre at its venue, and also having an international airport and ‘ample’ hotel accommodation.
Will Ukraine play a part?
The winning host city will have to prove it can showcase Ukrainian culture and music.
The BBC said: ‘All applicants demonstrated how they would reflect Ukrainian culture, music and communities to mark the fact that Ukraine are the winners of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Who decides the winner?
A joint decision will be made between the BBC as the UK’s state broadcaster and the European Broadcasting Union, which produces the event.
When will the final decision be announced?
No date has been set but the EBU has said the announcement will take place in autumn.
The contest usually takes place in May.