Which UK cities could host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest?

With the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, the UK has been designated as new host of the 2023 Eurovision

By Silvia Pellegrino

Eurovision 2022 winner Ukraine will be unable to host the event because of the ongoing Russian invasion, forcing the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to look for an alternative host. Since the UK achieved second place in the competition, the BBC has been selected to broadcast the next contest on Ukraine’s behalf.

Eurovision song content 2023
Which UK city will look to honour Ukraine by hosting Eurovision 2023? (Photo by Zeferli/iStock)

The UK has multiple strong candidates to host the next Eurovision competition. These include London, Manchester and Sheffield, all of which have suitable arenas, accommodation and international transport links.

Where has the UK hosted Eurovision before?

2023 would not be the first year the UK has hosted Eurovision. In fact, the country has hosted eight times previously:

  • 1960 – Royal Festival Hall, London
  • 1963 – BBC Television Centre, London
  • 1968 – Royal Albert Hall, London
  • 1972 – Usher Hall, Edinburgh
  • 1974 – Brighton Dome, Brighton
  • 1977 – Wembley Conference Centre, London
  • 1982 – Harrogate International Centre, Harrogate
  • 1998 – National Indoor Arena, Birmingham

2023 will be the ninth time the Eurovision Song Contest has taken place in the UK. To date, the UK has won on five occasions – 1967, 1969, 1976, 1981 and 1997 – and the BBC has presented it more than any other broadcaster.

Where are the biggest venues for Eurovision in the UK?

Since the UK is set to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023, there are numerous factors to consider in the choice of venue.

The perfect venue for Eurovision has to be able to hold a big stage, up to 15,000 fans and around 1,500 journalists and photographers. Plus, it has to be empty for the month leading up to the event. Because of the amount of media coverage, the venue has to have a press centre as well.

[Read more: So what infrastructure does a city need to host Eurovision?]

Unless the UK decides to build an arena from scratch as Azerbaijan did in 2012, these are the largest music venues in the country:

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  1. Manchester Arena, 21,000 cap
  2. London O2 Arena, 20,000 cap
  3. Birmingham, Utilita Arena, 15,800 cap
  4. Birmingham, Resorts World Arena, 15,685 cap

All of these are valid possibilities, and the BBC reports that Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool have also expressed an interest to host the global event. However, the majority of these cities do not have arenas as big as the ones above.

How much does Eurovision cost to host?

Historically, Baku in Azerbaijan spent the largest sum to prepare for Eurovision in 2012. In fact, the country spent €65.1m (around £52m) to host the contest. Azerbaijan spent an additional €100m (around £85m) to build a stadium ad hoc.

On the other hand, Stockholm in Sweden spent the least amount of money – €11m (around £9.3m) – in 2016.

2022’s edition in Turin, Italy, cost around €16.3m (around £14m), with €14.8m coming from municipal authorities and €1.5m from the government, alongside additional funding from sponsors.

Azerbaijan remains the country with the highest budget for Eurovision. The 2023 edition budget is still being discussed.

2023’s edition, set to take place in the UK, does not have a set budget yet. The BBC, the main broadcaster of the event, has confirmed that there is an ongoing discussion about the topic.

However, the BBC has already faced cuts – including a licence fee freeze – before the government reviews the BBC’s funding and possible future models for the corporation after the current charter, which will end in 2027.

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