Whether you love or loathe a sing-a-long, the Eurovision Song Contest is always a fun, silly and playful occasion. This year, however, the event has greater gravitas, celebrating the unity and solidarity between last year’s champions, Ukraine, and the rest of the world.
Hosting on behalf of the war-torn country, Liverpool has pulled out all the stops to make this a memorable event. Along with the contest, taking place this week, enjoy these additional festivities.
Get to know Ukraine’s creative talents at the Xpresia Festival
Proof Eurovision is about much more than singing and silly outfits, this three-day cultural arts festival unifies talents from the UK and the Ukraine in a celebration of creative, electronic and performing arts.
More than 30 artists will showcase their work, including Stas Koroliov, an artist from Avdiivka, in the Donetsk region, who fronts Kyiv-based audio-visual jazz-rock band under the same name. Last year they released a single using lyrics made up of questions Ukrainians are asking about the war, found through a Google search.
The event will take place from Tuesday to Thursday in independent venues across Liverpool, including The Invisible Wind Factory, Meraki, and Quarry. As part of the festival, a series of immersive artworks will be installed across the partner venues.
How: Visit xpresiafestival.com
Become a rock star at the British Music Experience
Charting the history of pop from 1945 to the present day, this interactive music museum couldn’t resist doing something special for Liverpool’s biggest musical extravaganza of the year.
The glittery jumpsuit worn by British TikTok sensation and last year’s runner up Sam Ryder will be on display; a must-see ahead of his performance at the contest.
Afterwards, wander through galleries filled with memorabilia from Liverpool’s famous sons, The Beatles, and learn how to play like a rock star in the Gibson Interactive Studio.
How: Adults, £16; children (5-15), £10.50. A ticket is valid for a year, allowing you to visit multiple times. Visit britishmusicexperience.com
Dance, sing and shed a few tears at the EuroFestival
Spreading celebrations until May 14 multiple events and installations inspired by the Eurovision 2023 slogan ‘United by Music’ will be held in the host city.
Look out for The Blue and Yellow Submarine Parade by The Kazimier – an outdoor underwater sea disco with a glitterball jellyfish – and Rave Ukraine – a simultaneous rave in Liverpool and Kyiv which will be streamed across the world.
There will also be an outdoor performance from the English National Opera and their take on Eurovision, transforming Liverpool Cathedral into a train carriage to represent the journey many Ukrainians made from Izyum to the border with Poland.
How: For a programme of performances, see visitliverpool.com/eurovision-2023/eurofestival
Raise a glass – or cuppa – at INNSide Melia
Eat, sleep and breathe Eurovision at one of the event’s partner hotels. At the INNSiDE Meliá hotel, set in the heart of Liverpool with a rooftop bar, guests can enjoy themed events.
Live DJs will play Eurovision anthems in the reception and the Gino D’Acampo 360 Sky Bar areas, while bespoke Eurovision cocktail menus and special afternoon teas will also be served. Anyone wanting to host their own parties can book private streaming and karaoke spaces, getting into the spirit by purchasing unofficial Eurovision merchandise. A wall decorated with blue and yellow flowers pays homage to the people of Ukraine.
How: Visit innside.com/liverpool
Go for a full house at Bongo’s Bingo Eurovision Special
It doesn’t get more kitsch than this lively blend of traditional bingo, dance-offs and minis raves. Now taking place in 50 locations around the world, the party started in Liverpool in 2015, so a homecoming is only fitting for the sparkliest event in the city’s calendar.
Taking place from 6pm on May 12, the day before the big final, players are invited to gather at independent music venue CONTENT for an evening of riotous fun. Compere Jonny Bongo will be joined by ‘Walking On Sunshine’ star Katrina Leskanich (from Katrina And The Waves) and Bucks Fizz spin-off The Fizz, featuring Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and Jay Aston.
How: Visit bongosbingo.co.uk