After weeks of speculation and debate, it’s now official. Israel’s broadcaster KAN and the EBU have confirmed the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 will be held in Tel Aviv for the first time in history! As speculated, the event will be hosted at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
This means that Israel joins the list of countries that have chosen to host the event outside of their capital city. It’s the first contest to do so since the 2013 contest in Malmö, Sweden — although the reasons this time are quite different!
The dates for the 2019 contest have also been confirmed. Semi-final one will be held on Tuesday 14 May 2019, semi-final two on Thursday 16 May, while the grand final will be held on Saturday 18 May.
In a promotional video, the Eurovision executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand explains the reasons behind KAN and the EBU selecting Tel Aviv. What it came down to, he explains, is that “Tel Aviv has the overall best setup to host the biggest entertainment show in the world.”
The host city race
Tel Aviv joined the contest to be host city quite late. Netta’s victory in Lisbon saw her spontaneous announcement, “next time in Jerusalem”. Some politicians’ comments also publicly favoured Jerusalem. Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv, said the city would not apply to host unless specifically requested by KAN.
But whilst Jerusalem was the early favourite, the momentum shifted in recent weeks. Jon Ola Sand’s announcement last week — confirming the selected host city must allow rehearsals during Shabbat — was perhaps the biggest signal for a Tel Aviv contest. Jerusalem’s highly Orthodox community strictly opposes such acts.
Of course, Tel Aviv was also seen as the “popular” choice for host city. Many fans and even popular figures were calling for it to host very early on in the process. The reason why might be in an Israeli phrase: “Jerusalem is for praying, Tel Aviv is for celebrating!”
Even though the two cities are culturally different, their geographical distance is rather small — around 60 km (35 miles). This means that visitors will find it quite easy to travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem if they want to combine the fun of Eurovision with some “spiritual” matters.
Tel Aviv – the city that never sleeps
But what about our new host city? Tel Aviv is also known as the “White City”, due to the white plaster used when the city was built in the early 1900s. It’s considered the cultural capital of the country: a hub for Israel’s start-up companies and an island of calm in Israel’s complex reality of conflicts.
Tel Aviv is also famous for its care-free atmosphere, thousands of cafes and – of course — for the tanned people who are strolling its streets and beaches!
In recent years, Tel Aviv has also played host to the Israel Calling pre-party concert. There’s absolutely no doubt that the city is going to be passionate about hosting Eurovision!
In terms of transportation, Tel Aviv is well connected to Ben Gurion Airport. If the new railway is complete by May, then this will become even easier – less than 10 minutes ride and only 30 minutes straight to Jerusalem. Commuting in the city is also quite easy, with the main attractions all very close to each other.
But there are also some problems still may need to be overcome. The venue for Eurovision 2019 — the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds — is considered quite small by recent Eurovision standards. It can house around 10,000 guests, just half the size of the Altice Arena in Lisbon.
Rumours suggest that there are plans to add another 2,000 seats. But we’re sure that even if fans can’t all fit in the arena, there’ll be plenty of parties going on in the city!
One thing is for certain though. Eurovision 2019 will be very colourful, just like its host – the lovely and naughty Tel Aviv. In the words of Nadav Guedj, it’s time to show you Tel Aviv!
Are you glad to see Tel Aviv chosen as the host city? Are you planning to go to the contest? Let us know all your thoughts in the comments section below!
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