Seven cities across Great Britain have made the shortlist of potential host cities for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023. South Yorkshire’s biggest hub — Sheffield — is among the lucky seven.
In late July, Sheffield City Council announced that the Steel City was bidding to host the contest in the town’s Utilita Sheffield Arena. In a statement, the council made it clear that they want to host not just for themselves, but also on behalf of and in honour of Ukraine.
“As the UK’s first designated City of Sanctuary, we’re reaching out to offer our city not only as a place of sanctuary, but as a place to celebrate the unity and togetherness that Eurovision symbolises.”
“Sheffield stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine – we are putting ourselves forward to host Eurovision 2023 to do its people proud.”
For many outside of the United Kingdom, Sheffield does not ring a bell (unless you attended the 2007 International Indian Film Academy Awards or the 2012 European Figure Skating Championships inside Sheffield Arena).
But we promise: the city really does have a lot to offer! We’ve rounded up 10 useful facts that may help Sheffield stand out from the pack. And just look at this pretty Instagram Reel!
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10 Facts about Sheffield: Eurovision 2023 host city bid
1. It helped changed the course of history
The industrial revolution of the eighteenth century changed the world forever. Without it, you wouldn’t have been able to read this article! But did you know that Sheffield played a major role in the industrial revolution? The “Steel City” earned its nickname by providing coal, iron and steel — materials crucial to ushering in mass production and mechanisation. The city quickly became a hot spot for heavy industries and has long been a big player in the cutlery market. And by cutlery we mean anything that cuts: pocket knives, scissors, scythes and forks & knives. Fun fact: the steel used to build the famous Brooklyn Bridge came from Sheffield.
2. Sheffield has the most trees per capita of any city in Europe
Sheffield’s connection to the great industrial age has led to a perception that it’s grey. But in reality Sheffield is really green. The city is home to over 250 parks and over 60% of its space is green. That means there’s more than enough space for the annual Eurovillage — where Eurovision artists perform free for the public! And with almost four trees per person, the city has been named the city with the most trees per capita on the whole continent. We pity the person who had to do all that counting…
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3. The UK’s first-ever national park is located in Sheffield
If you fancy a few days out during rehearsals, Peak District National Park could be for you. The UK’s first-ever national park spans 1,400 square kilometres and offers gorgeous views from hills as high as 500m above sea level. Caving, camping, climbing — there is literally something for anyone who loves any aspect of the great outdoors. It ticks so many boxes: paragliding, kayaking, walking, cycling and more. We love Go Ape, a tree-top experience that includes obstacle courses and zip wires.
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4. Arthur Conan Doyle found inspiration for Sherlock Holmes
British author Arthur Conan Doyle lived in Sheffield briefly, working as a medical assistant. According to the Sheffield Museums web site, the author was not a fan of the doctor he worked for. Writing in a letter he said: “These Sheffielders would rather be poisoned by a man with a beard than saved by a man without one.” Not all was lost. According to local lore and legend, he took inspiration from his time there to write The Hounds of Baskerville, one of his most famous works.
5. Sheffield hosts the World Snooker Championships
Sheffield has hosted plenty of big events, including The World Student Games, the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 and, perhaps most famously, the World Snooker Championships. In fact, Sheffield has hosted the snooker championships every year since 1977 inside its Crucible Theatre, welcoming 32 of the sport’s best players for a knockout style tournament.
Don’t turn your nose up just yet: It apparently draws more viewers than even Eurovision! Organisers say it attracts a global audience of 500 million viewers across 150 countries — and gets extensive coverage broadcast live on BBC Sport and Eurosport, among others. Next year’s tournament runs from 15 April until 1 May. Depending on when Eurovision rehearsals start, our fandoms may cross over!
6. Musicians love Utilita Sheffield Arena
With a capacity of 13,600 people, the Utilita Sheffield Arena is the perfect size to host Eurovision. Home to the Sheffield Steelers ice hockey team, the arena has hosted a plethora of events since 1991. Between now and July, the venue will welcome PAW Patrol LIVE!, Andrea Bocelli, George Ezra, N-Dubz, Justin Bieber, and others. It’s so loved by some artists that they even decided to have their last-ever shows there. The prime examples? Tina Turner and One Direction.
7. Music is Sheffield’s second language
To paraphrase the city’s council, music is the blood in the veins of the city. During the 80s, the city was a hub for experimental music, including punk, synth pop and electronic music. As those genres re-emerge on the charts, Sheffield seems like the perfect place for a music contest. Let’s not forget that the city gifted the world legendary musical acts including the Artic Monkeys, Bring Me To Horizon, Jarvis Cocker, Pulp, and Sophie and the Giants (who you’ll remember as an interval act in Turin).
8. Sheffield is a lively university town
With a student population of over 60,000 across two different universities, Sheffield has plenty of energy and enthusiasm. The University of Sheffield claims almost half of the students and has been named one of the Top 50 most international universities in the world. And where there are students, there is nightlife. Anyone fancy a Wiwi Jam in the student union?
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9. It’s nicknamed “England’s biggest village” for a reason
Sheffield is one of those cities that still has that warm, old-fashioned sense of community. Sheffielders are regarded as friendly by their fellow Brits. As London’s Metro newspaper put it: “Sheffielders love giving directions, recommending a good night out and joining you on that night out. Don’t be surprised when a complete stranger sparks up a conversation with you, the opening line is likely to be either ‘orate, love?’ or ‘ey up, duck’.” That warmth may explain why the city is one of the safest in the whole country.
10. Sheffield has a formalised, 70-year-old connection to Ukraine
Donetsk is one of five sister cities to Sheffield, having cemented their bond way back in 1956. Their shared industrial past gave them a lot to connect over — and their bond has continued throughout the war in Ukraine.
Back in February, three Sheffield councillors praised the “friendship” between the cities and explicitly condemned Russia’s Vladimir Putin. They also flagged landmarks to this relationship. In Sheffield, there is a street called “Donetsk Way”, which is one of the main roads around Hackenthorpe. A park in Donetsk is named “Sheffield Park” in honour of their twinning.
What do you think? Would you like to see Sheffield host Eurovision 2023? Let us know in the comments below.