Eurovision 2023: Why Glasgow shouldn't be too proud to beg for Eurovision rights

With the European Broadcasting Union announcement that it will not be possible to stage the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine, hosting responsibilities now fall to the 2022 runners-up – douze points to Royaume-Uni.

Glasgow is in pole position among tipsters to host the annual pop spectacular, possibly because the city’s main arena, the Hydro, already has a place in Eurovision lore – it was used as the location for the fictional contest in the 2020 comedy feature Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.

Although Edinburgh was the host city in the film, the contest scenes were filmed in the Hydro, with stars Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as Icelandic entry Fire Saga.

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The film’s affectionate tribute to the cheesy musical clichés of the contest was a hit with Eurovision’s hardcore fanbase.

The Story of Fire Saga - Will Ferrell as Lars Erickssong, and Rachel McAdams as Sigrit Ericksdottir, star in the Eurovision-themed film. Picture: John Wilson/NETFLIX

Could life imitate art?

The Hydro is certainly capable of hosting a large-scale pop extravaganza.

Pre-pandemic it was named as the second busiest arena in the world, behind only New York’s Madison Square Gardens for bookings and, in recent weeks alone, the venue has welcomed Billie Eilish, Queen and the Pet Shop Boys, bringing all the associated custom to the city.

Eurovision is on another scale entirely, with fans, performers, production crew and Europe’s media descending on host cities for a week, which includes two semi-final shows, three jury performances, plus a host of possible fringe events, creating a richly deserved shop window for the UK’s first Unesco City of Music.

If Glasgow does get the nod, this will be the second time the Eurovision Song Contest has been hosted in Scotland – and in similar circumstances to the 1972 competition in Edinburgh.

Monaco had won the contest in 1971, but were unable to provide a suitable venue for the show. Their loss was Edinburgh’s gain.

The performances took place in the Usher Hall, while the jury deliberations were held in Edinburgh Castle.

Vicky Leandros took the trophy for Luxembourg while the UK entry – Beg, Steal or Borrow by The New Seekers – finished in a respectable second place.

Hopefully Glasgow won’t be too proud to beg for a return visit.

- Fiona Shepherd is co-founder of Glasgow Music City Tours and a columnist for The Scotsman.

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