Despite its victory at the 2022 contest, Ukraine won’t be able to host Eurovision 2023 because of Russia’s ongoing war. On 17 June, the EBU confirmed talks will begin with the BBC to discuss the possibility of the United Kingdom hosting the prestigious song contest next year. As such, the Eurovision 2023 host city rumour mill is already turning.
A number of spokespersons for British cities have already announced their interest to host the contest. Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, London…let’s dive into the hopefuls.
Eurovision 2023 in the UK: Cities express interest in hosting
The city on everybody’s lips is Glasgow. Home to Eurovision 1969 winner Lulu and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK champion Lawrence Chaney, Glasgow is a bustling hub of Scottish culture and is tipped as one of the locations in the running to host Eurovision next year.
In 2020, Scotland’s second city was the fictional host of Eurovision in Will Ferrell’s Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, with festivities taking place inside the OVO Hydro Arena. Now, life could imitate art. The OVO Hydro seats 14,000 spectators, meeting the 10,000 capacity minimum as outlined by the EBU. The Nancy Drews of the Eurovision fandom also sleuthed out a gap in the arena’s schedule for most of May 2023.
International transport is covered by Glasgow Airport — Scotland’s second largest airport — which serves nine million passengers every year.
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, expressed her support for bringing Eurovision 2023 the banks of the River Clyde, referencing OVO Hydro.
Sturgeon wrote: “We wish Eurovision could be in Ukraine but understand that in circumstances this isn’t possible. However, I can think of a perfect venue on the banks o the River Clyde!”.
We wish @Eurovision could be in Ukraine but understand that in circumstances this isn’t possible.— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) June 17, 2022
However, I can think of a perfect venue on banks of the River Clyde!! @scotgov is happy to discuss with BBC, @GlasgowCC @EBU_HQ and others https://t.co/74YzxlWgWh
Manchester, the UK’s third largest city and the economic capital of North West England, could also be in the running to house Europe’s favourite TV show.
Manchester is one of the UK’s most vibrant cities. Home to a large gay scene centred on Canal Street, Manchester is revered for its ever-popular blowout Pride festivals and bustling nightlife. The Mancunians also gave us many British pop music legends. M People, The Chemical Brothers, Take That, and Britpop superstars Oasis all got their start in the city.
The city is served well by Manchester Airport and a local tram network, providing swift passage across its many suburbs. Neighbouring city Salford is home to the BBC’s northern base of operations, MediaCityUK, which makes for simpler logistic movements.
As for venue, Manchester’s AO Arena seats 21,000 people. Aside from an early performance of Magic Mike — The Arena Tour on 2 May and Elton John’s concert on 31 May, the arena’s schedule is clear for Eurovision month.
Manchester City Council revelled in the thoughts of its city hosting the contest, writing on Twitter: “We can think of the perfect place to host Eurovision 2023”.
We can think of the perfect place to host Eurovision 2023. ? https://t.co/ZWDLmTxnwN— Manchester City Council (@ManCityCouncil) June 17, 2022
Liverpool has a rich musical history. Home to Atomic Kitten, Cilla Black and The Beatles, tourists can walk in the footsteps of history as they explore the unique blend of antiquity and modernity seen throughout Liverpool’s Georgian streets.
In the heart of Liverpool’s dockyard, M&S Bank Arena has a capacity for 11,000 spectators. Meanwhile, the neighbouring convention centre meets the requirements for a press centre. Its schedule is free for most of May 2023 bar an Andre Rieu concert on 12 May — which could be rescheduled to allow for the big show to take place.
The city is serviced by train and bus links, with Liverpool John Lennon Airport opening the skies to international travel.
Liverpool Echo reported local leaders will make a strong case for their city to host the contest next year.
Harry Doyle, Councillor for Knotty Ash, wrote on Twitter: “This is bittersweet. Ukraine as a sovereign nation should have had the opportunity to host this. I will be making a serious case for Liverpool to host “Eurovision. Our city would transform into Ukraine for the event and be a beacon of hope.”
Joanne Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, echoed: “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”.
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. #SlavaUkraini ?? @DCMS @CultureLPool @lpoolcouncil @LpoolCityRegion https://t.co/WGRg87vGUv— Joanne Anderson (@MayorLpool) June 17, 2022
Belfast, Northern Ireland
All of the UK’s hostings to date have taken place in England, with the exception of the 1972 contest in Edinburgh, Scotland. Northern Ireland and Wales are yet to share a slice of Great British glory. Belfast’s hosting would break that trend.
The Northern Irish capital has successfully hosted numerous international events, including the Giro d’Italia in 2014 and the MTV EMA awards in 2011.
Belfast International Airport welcomes flights from all over Europe, while Belfast’s SSE Arena boasts an 11,000 spectator capacity. Additionally, the arena’s schedule is clear for the entirety of May 2023.
Councillors are eager to bring the contest to their city.
Belfast’s Green Party told BelfastLive: “The Eurovision Song Contest is watched by millions of fans around the world and host countries often use the opportunity to promote their countryside, towns and cities beyond the host city limits, so not only would this be a huge opportunity for Belfast, but also for the whole of Northern Ireland to be shown off on the world stage.”
British capital London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Inhabited by 9 million city dwellers and home to iconic landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Covent Garden and the London Eye, the skyline is recognised across the world.
Serviced by three major airports — Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton — and the efficient London Underground tube system, artists, press and fans will be able to navigate the city with ease. The city also boasts numerous venue options, with both the O2 Arena and OVO Wembley seating well over 10,000 spectators.
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, wrote on Twitter: “Londoners would welcome Eurovision with open arms.”
Londoners would welcome Eurovision with open arms.— Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@MayorofLondon) June 17, 2022
We're ready to step up and support Ukraine by hosting a contest that pays tribute to and honours the Ukrainian people, and also celebrates the very best of Britain too. https://t.co/J5ODlcOiuv
However, some have commented on the need to diversify and bring tourism to other part of the UK away from the capital.
Wiwibloggs’ William Lee Adams told the BBC: “Foreign fans are so excited about the chance to come to the UK, the birthplace of pop music”.
He added: “I really don’t think the UK can go wrong wherever they host. I do think it will be outside of London. Obviously the BBC wants to showcase all communities, and London gets a lot already.”
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In the heart of West Yorkshire, Leeds an industrial powerhouse and one of the UK’s largest cities.
With a capacity of 13,000, the First Direct Arena meets the EBU’s minimum requirements. Meanwhile, Leeds Bradford Airport covers a wide span of the continent.
Leeds City Council has also announced its intention to bid to host Eurovision 2023 in West Yorkshire, announcing it has already been in touch with the BBC to outline its hosting plans.
t 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.
In a joint statement, councillors James Lewis and Jonathan Prior wrote: “Given that we will be mid-way through the Leeds 2023 year of culture, [hosting Eurovision] 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.”
?????? Leeds City Council issue statement on bid to host Eurovision 2023 ?? https://t.co/sO4QFqZohB— Leeds Council News (@LeedsCC_News) June 17, 2022
As one of the UK’s northernmost cities, Aberdeen is famous for its fishing ports, world-renowned university, and lively cultural scene steeped in Scottish history.
In a letter addressed to BBC Chief Executive Tim Davie, an assembly of six Scottish Members of Parliament detailed Aberdeen’s infrastructure and highlighted the facilities available for hosting Eurovision 2023.
The team suggested using P&J Live, with its capacity of 15,000 spectators, as the host venue.
They wrote: “All of us wish Ukraine was in a position to host the contest next year, but we feel very strongly that Aberdeen can deliver a show that will match any city in the world.
“We urge you to consider Aberdeen as a host venue for Eurovision 2023 and look forward to hearing from you in due course.”
Birmingham is the UK’s second largest city. Known for its picturesque canals and melting pot of cultures, Birmingham is campaigning to bring Eurovision back to Brum, 25 years after its last hosting.
Eurovision 1998 was hosted in Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena, now known as the Utilita Arena. The venue has a capacity of 15,000 spectators, and has proved it is capable of hosting Eurovision. Birmingham also boasts a second possible venue — the Resorts World Arena also has a capacity of 15,000.
Councillor John O’Shea wrote on Twitter: “Birmingham has done it before. It can do it again.”
Birmingham has done it before. It can do it again. https://t.co/3zcMEHidme— John O'Shea (@politicalhackuk) June 17, 2022
Kevin Brennan, an MP representing parts of the Welsh capital Cardiff, points to Principality Stadium — the national stadium of Wales. Built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup, it’s hosted everything from the Speedway Grand Prix of Great Britain to football matches during the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Locals know it best as the home of the Wales national rugby union team.
Clearly Eurovision should be held at the Principality Stadium (roof closed) Cardiff with 70,000 partygoers – no brainer— Kevin Brennan MP (@KevinBrennanMP) June 17, 2022
Claire Darke, the former mayor of Wolverhampton and a current City Councillor, isn’t playing. She’s issued a full-on statement calling on the government to issue the funds so that her city can host. We are reprinting it in full below because we love the spirit and passion.
?? Should Wolverhampton host #Eurovision 2023?— wiwibloggs (@wiwibloggs) June 17, 2022
? Former @WolvesMayor Claire Darke says “Yes!”
? “I call on the Government and the BBC to provide financial support to enable Wolverhampton and the wider area to reap the benefits of this globally significant event.” pic.twitter.com/by0XRusRKL
Following today’s announcement that the United Kingdom has been offered the chance to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023, Wolverhampton City Councillor Claire Darke has called for Wolverhampton to be the host city.
The City of Wolverhampton has a proud musical heritage with acts such as Led Zeppelin, Slade, Beverley Knight, and Liam Payne, among some of the world’s most prominent artists.
I call on the Government and the BBC to provide financial support to enable Wolverhampton and the wider area to reap the benefits of this globally significant event.
Wolverhampton has many potential public spaces for fan zones and to host the contest, including Molineux Stadium, Dunstall Park, and the newly-refurbished Civic Halls. The Molineux Stadium, home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, has recently hosted significant international football fixtures and concerts by Rod Stewart.
I will be calling Wolverhampton’s finest musical talent to join together to support this cause with a one-off concert with all proceeds to support refugees in Ukraine. I will personally invite Liam Payne to join and encourage him to reunite with One Direction for a one-off show.
Wolverhampton is a diverse, multicultural, and inclusive city open to all. Eurovision has helped unite diverse communities across the world. Wolverhampton is ready to play its part.
City Councillor for Park Ward, City of Wolverhampton Council
Mayor of Wolverhampton 2019-2021
What do you think? Which UK city should host Eurovision 2023? Share your thoughts in the comments below.