Heróis do Mar! Lisbon headlines first four cities bidding to host Eurovision 2018

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It’s the Iberian nation that took part in the Eurovision Song Contest 49 times without a single victory.

But the situation changed dramatically for Portugal in 2017 when Salvador Sobral won the entire competition with his jazzy ballad “Amar Pelos Dois“, scoring a record-breaking 758 points in the process.

And while Portugal’s Eurovision fans continue to ride a high over the landmark win, RTP is busy deciding which city will host next year’s extravaganza. It has now conducted technical visits to the cities of LisbonGondomar, Santa Maria da Feira and Braga to get an initial sense of how each city might host the Eurovision Song Contest 2018.

In the days after Portugal’s win, RTP’s own evening news program reported that Lisbon would serve as host city. And fans — at home and abroad — have also assumed that Lisbon is the only city with a realistic shot at this.

But RTP — the publicly owned broadcaster — has decided on a transparent and democratic bidding process, allowing all cities that have an interest in welcoming Europe next year to plead their case.

“We have a lot of commercial interest, but we’re still in the phase of creating the concept,” RTP’s President Gonçalo Reis said in a recent interview with Jornal de Negócios.

“We already have a financial model defined, but Eurovision requires the involvement of the host city, tourism boards and an effort to create partnerships with both public and private sponsors.”

Basically cities gotta show us that money honey…and how they would secure it.

RTP and the EBU must now decide which cities meet the criteria, which is laid down by the EBU’s Reference Group and covers issues such as venue, transport infrastructure, funding and hotels.

LISBON

With a great transportation network and endless accommodation options, the Portuguese capital is the front runner to host. It has an international airport with its own subway station, allowing visitors to reach the city centre in less than 20 minutes.

MEO Arena is the biggest venue in Portugal and has unrivalled experience hosting large-scale music events. With a capacity of around 20,000, it has already welcomed global superstars like Ariana Grande, Adele, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. If B can drink “Lemonade” there then so can we…

Located in Parque das Nações, the venue boasts great transport links, a mall, restaurants and other infrastructure to support the contest. Plus it’s literally by the river, which will help calm nervous performers and excited fans.

GONDOMAR

The second option takes us north to the city of Gondomar, which hopes to host the event in its more intimate Multiusos de Gondomar.

The arena can welcome around 8,000 people, but the city lacks the wide range of hotels and transport infrastructure that Lisbon offers. At least some people (OK, thousands) would likely have to stay out of town — and then they’d struggle to get to and from the venue.

It is served by Porto’s International Airport, which is 25km away from the city.

SANTA MARIA DA FEIRA

Santa Maria da Feira is a small municipality but it has one of the most Eurovision-friendly venues in its Europarque de Santa Maria da Feira.

With a capacity of around 11,000 people, it’s hosted concerts from Portuguese artists including Amália Rodrigues, Bernardo Sassetti and Carlos do Carmo, but also international acts like Dionne Warwick, Tony Bennett and the London Symphony Orchestra. It can do big events.

It may have the venue, but unfortunately the city lacks accommodation options and a proper transport network. Plus it’s only served by Porto’s International Airport, which is 50km away.

BRAGA

Braga is one of the new hot spots in Portugal, with the number of tourists rising exponentially year on year. Portugal’s third-largest city is described by Lonely Planet as “an elegant town laced with ancient narrow lanes closed to vehicles” and one known for its vigour, owing partly to its large student population.

During a recent press conference, town president Ricardo Rio discussed the possibility of welcoming Eurovision after renovating a number of areas and buildings, including its Exposition Park.

After its construction — expected to be finished by March —  the main venue would be able to welcome around 15,000 people. The city already has plans to greatly expand its accommodation offerings. Unfortunately they can’t move the city any closer to an airport — the nearest international airport is 53km away — and it lacks an efficient transport system in and out of the city.

Portugal is putting a great amount of effort into making the next edition of Eurovision one to the remember. We are thrilled that RTP will be living and breathing Eurovision as much as we are all year long. Boa sorte, Portugal!

Where would like Eurovision 2018 to take place? Do you desperately want to travel to Lisbon or are you OK with the other options? Let us know in the comments box below. 

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