Liverpool knew that being selected to host the biggest event in the global music calendar wasn’t a small responsibility. Having won the bid to host the competition all the way back in October, plans were put in place early to make changes throughout the city.

Well before the week of the competition, nearly every mode of transport was rebranded in Eurovision colours. The region’s publicly owned train and zero-emission hydrogen buses all had a glow up. Eurovision designs could also be seen across bus stops, ferry terminals and train stations. Most notably, Lime Street Station was renamed to be more welcoming to European visitors. These initiatives were all part of a £2m funding package provided by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

When Liverpool’s Eurovision Village was set up on Friday May 5th, people could feel the atmosphere building even more. The Eurovision Village allowed those without tickets to watch the semi-finals. There were also a range of other performances throughout the week, which included the likes of Sophie Ellis Bextor, Vengaboys and the Liverpool Unity Choir. Combined with scores of European food and drink options, the Eurovision Village served as the city hub for the event.

Throughout the Eurovision week there was a light display visible from the Liverpool docks. Woodside Ventilation Tower could be seen lit in blue and gold after nightfall Monday to Saturday. This was evidence that even across the water, the Wirral was showing appreciation for the event.

Preliminary BBC filming was done in Liverpool around the start of April, to be aired during the contest. As part of this, the ‘Fab Four’ Beatles statue was dressed in traditional Ukrainian Vyshyvankas. This was yet another act that helped set the tone for how Liverpool would be welcoming cultures from around the continent.

Liverpool – the Perfect Host City?

It’s easy to look back in hindsight and marvel at how well Eurovision went in Liverpool. However, the city was always the ideal choice for so many reasons.

Music runs in Liverpool’s blood. From the historic icons of The Beatles to more recent talent like Jamie Webster, Atomic Kitten, and The Wombats. The city continues to support a vibrant creative music scene to this day. After all, The National Lottery’s Big Eurovision Welcome was one of the first shows to kick off Eurovision 2023.

Everyone knows scousers are among the friendliest people you’ll every meet. Any and all people are welcome in Liverpool, and it really showed over the course of the competition. There were tons of locals out engaging with the performances and generally showing their hospitality. The creative, colourful, unifying, slightly eccentric atmosphere of Eurovision felt right at home.

Lastly, the city was well equipped to offer support and solidarity with Ukraine. Liverpool is a place that’s no stranger to fighting injustices and as such, it’s ready to stand by those in need. The unique circumstances of Eurovision 2023 being transferred from its intended host, could have created issues for other hosts. Liverpool however, rose to occasion with style and compassion.

Standout Moments

In no particular order:

1. Duncan Lawrence’s rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone

Although it would be more accurate to say Europe’s rendition, as we saw the unifying power of Eurovision on display at Saturday’s final. All the hosts came out to join Duncan on stage, flanked by the previous Liverpool Songbook acts. Screens at the M&S Bank Arena then switched to show children singing along in Ukraine. The emotion visible across the audience member’s faces was infectious.

2. Mel’s Butter Churning

Viewers knew they could count on Mel Giedroyc for some extra comic relief during Eurovision 2023. However, people were unlikely to have seen this moment coming. During presenter Hannah Waddingham’s introduction for Armenia, the comedian appeared in the background dressed as a milkmaid. The butter churning combined with the slightly sensual facial expressions immediately became iconic. Even Graham Norton couldn’t contain his chuckles.

3. Iceland’s Jury Vote

The representative of Iceland, Einar Stefánsson, certainly left a memorable impression during the final jury votes. As he slowly removed mask after mask, viewers were left with more questions than answers. Einar didn’t provide any though, simply stating “Australia” were the country that would receive their 12 points. Honourable mention goes to the Georgian jury vote spokesperson for giving off exceedingly chaotic vibes.

4. The Liverpool Songbook

Six acts from Eurovision’s past came out to perform classic Liverpool tunes. This included the likes of Mahmood, Netta, Daði Freyr, Cornelia Jakobs and Duncan Laurence. It was the perfect way to join Liverpool and Eurovision through music. Speaking of music, the songs were Imagine, You Spin Me Round, Whole Again, I Turn To You, and You’ll Never Walk Alone.

5. The Final Vote Comes in

The Eurovision final was a nailbiter no matter what side you were supporting. It was either Finland’s boisterous Cha Cha Cha or the soaring vocals of Sweden’s Tattoo. After what felt like an eternity, it was announced Loreen had won it for Sweden with 243 audience votes. She became the second ever person to win Eurovision twice. Loreen first lifted the trophy in 2012 with her song Euphoria.

In Summary

Many Eurovision values were already embodied by Liverpool before it was selected to host the competition. This led to an unforgettable experience for fans both old and new, as well as visitors from afar. With the sun shining it felt like a week-long European festival.

Even for businesses based the surrounding area like us, the excitement was palpable. Loads of effort was made to incorporate Ukrainian culture into proceedings and maintain the right amount of grandeur. We think Eurovision in Liverpool was absolutely nailed.

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