Image Credit: VSNW
Following the announcement from both the EBU and the BBC, the United Kingdom have been confirmed to be in talks to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 on behalf of Ukraine.
Due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, the safety of volunteers, workers and delegations cannot be guaranteed for the 2023 contest. Traditionally, the winner of the previous contest gets to host Eurovision in their country the following year and despite efforts from UA:PBC & statements from Ukrainian ministers (including President Zelenskyy), it’s looking increasingly unlikely we’ll be heading to Ukraine in 2023.
Therefore as the runner-up of Eurovision 2023, the UK are preparing to take on the hosting role and the EBU have assured that they will aim to make Ukraine’s win as influential as possible throughout the contest. A spokesperson for Downing Street (the UK Government) has also confirmed that should the UK host, Ukrainian culture will be celebrated during the three shows.
This would be the first time since 1980 that the contest hasn’t been hosted in the winning nation, and the fourth time the United Kingdom has hosted the event for another nation (previous editions were 1960, 1963, 1972 and 1974). It will also be the 9th time the UK has hosted the Eurovision Song Contest – more than any other competing country.
If it is confirmed in the coming months that the UK will be the official host of 2023, we’re likely to see the standard bidding process take place for the contest amongst cities in the country. Here are the candidate cities that’ve expressed interest in taking on the event in 2023.
The Current Candidates
Manchester is one of the favoured & most likely cities to take on hosting the 2023 contest. After the BBC gradually relocated there from London, it’d make the most sense to host the event from the broadcaster’s base. Manchester is also usually a staple city for artist tours that take place in the United Kingdom and is often the favoured choice when fans are discussing the potential British cities Eurovision could take place in.
The most popular venue to take on the contest is the AO Arena (Previously known as Manchester Arena). It has a capacity of 21,000 and has hosted a multitude of stars over the years including Dua Lipa, Little Mix, Beyoncé and Adele.
Manchester City Council alluded to the intention of submitting a bid for Eurovision 2023 on Twitter.
Glasgow is another big favourite to take on Eurovision 2023, after rumours began not too long after the conclusion of the 2022 contest that they were being lined up for hosting duties. It would be the second time Eurovision visits Scotland after Edinburgh became the host city in 1972 (Monaco could not meet the demands of hosting).
The venue for Glasgow is The Ovo Hydro, which has a capacity of 12,300 (seated)/14,500 (standing). It’s not the first time the venue would’ve been used in the Eurovision context – the 2020 Eurovision Netflix film “Eurovision Song Contest: Story Of Fire Saga” used The Ovo Hydro as the host arena. It also has a gap within its show schedule between April 25th 2023 & May 27th 2023, meaning there’s a perfect space for Eurovision to fit in.
The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has expressed that they would be happy to host Eurovision in Glasgow, or potentially elsewhere in Scotland. Aberdeen also has the venue facilities available, so a Scottish Eurovision can’t be ruled out.
Liverpool is another city whose looking at hosting Eurovision. The M&S Bank Arena has a capacity of 11,000 and the city is one of the most popular in the UK for visitors and tourists. It’s also got a rich history with music, most famously being home to The Beatles and the famous Cavern Club.
Liverpool’s Culture & Visitors Councillor Harry Doyle expressed Liverpool’s intention to host the contest in 2023.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, also supported the idea of the city becoming the host.
We send our love and solidarity as always to the people of Ukraine. Our city would love to do you proud and give your beautiful country the Eurovision platform it deserves.Joanne Anderson, Mayor Liverpool (Liverpool Echo)
Liverpool City Council has also joined in on Twitter with support for a Liverpool bid.
The capital city of the UK, London, could also be an option for 2023. It’s one of the easiest cities for those travelling to the UK to reach, and also has a number of arenas and stadiums that could deal with the task of hosting Eurovision. The O2 Arena is probably the most likely venue, with a capacity of 20,000. The Ovo Arena Wembley could also appear on the bidding list but holds significantly less than the O2 (12,500).
The last time London hosted Eurovision was in 1977, and as the city has experience in hosting large-scale music and TV events, it’s the most feasible option alongside Manchester. London also is the host of London Eurovision Party, which proves to be a popular and successful event each year.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has expressed London’s willingness to take on hosting duties on behalf of Ukraine.
The last time the UK hosted Eurovision was in 1998 after Katrina & The Waves‘ “Love Shine A Light” returned the contest to the country for the first time since 1982.
The arena that hosted in 1998, the Utilita Arena (then known as the National Indoor Arena) has been host to many well-known artists and has had previous experience of hosting TV events, and is surrounded by accommodation and facilities that would aid tourists travelling to Eurovision. The Resorts World Arena is also an option and most recently hosted the Concert For Ukraine. Both arenas have a capacity of over 15,000.
Whilst Birmingham Council is yet to express their formal intentions to take on the contest, councillors from the area believe that there should be no other option than Birmingham for ESC 2023.
Cardiff was rumoured to be the BBC’s first choice host for 2012 had Blue won the contest in 2011, so it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think they may be towards the top of the list again when it comes to hosting Eurovision in the UK. Wales has never hosted Eurovision and is yet another place of rich musical heritage.
Whilst Motorpoint Arena Cardiff is a little too small to take on the challenge of Eurovision, the Principality Stadium has been presented as an option by the leader of the Welsh Conservatives. The Principality Stadium has a capacity of 73,000-78,000, meaning should it be chosen to host, that it will be the biggest ever stadium to host Eurovision, far surpassing the Esprit Arena in Düsseldorf that held 38,000 in 2011.
Leeds may not be the first place you think of when you discuss Eurovision host cities, but they’re more than capable. The First Direct Arena can hold 13,700 people and works in collaboration with ASM Global, who helped stage the contest in Stockholm in 2016.
Leeds City Council has officially released the following statement:
It goes without saying that Leeds will be bidding to host Eurovision in 2023. Together with ASM Global, the operators of the first direct arena in Leeds, we have already been in touch with both the Government and the BBC to discuss our plans. Leeds has already proved that it has the capability and capacity to host major international events and ASM Global successfully hosted Eurovision in the Avicii Arena, Stockholm Sweden in 2016. Given that we will be mid-way through the Leeds 2023 year of culture, it could not come at a better time.
We are extremely disappointed that Ukraine will be unable to host in 2023, but it would be an honour to host on behalf of them, especially given that West Yorkshire is home to a large number of Ukrainians. If we are successful with our bid, we will be looking to get the local Ukrainian community involved with our plans as much as possible.James Lewis & Jonathon Pryor, Leeds City Council
Belfast is situated in Northern Ireland, and like Wales, has never hosted a Eurovision event. The SSE Arena Belfast has a capacity of over 11,000, so would comfortably be able to accommodate Eurovision. There are also no events planned at their arena for the month of May 2023, meaning the schedule is clear for the 2023 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Like Birmingham, there’s been no official confirmation of an intention to host the contest, but councillors have called on the Council Chief Executive to consider a bid.
These are all the cities that have expressed their intentions as of June 17th 2022, and we can be sure there will be many more to come should the United Kingdom be officially confirmed as the 2023 host nation. Other cities such as Newcastle, Sheffield and Nottingham all have arenas and venues that have the capacity to host the contest next year, and there’s likely to be an exciting bidding process in the coming months.
It’s also worth noting that it’s still the early stages of talks, and all could change in the near future. Ukraine still seems to be firmly behind hosting the event in a peaceful Ukraine – a situation that would be ideal for most.
Where do you want to see Eurovision 2023? Let us know in the comments below and make sure to stay up to date with Phoenix for all the latest news on Eurovision 2023!