After an intense three and a half months of speculation and suspense, Danish broadcaster DR, together with the European Broadcasting Corporation (EBU) has finally announced that the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest will be held in the charming capital city of Denmark, Copenhagen. Four other cities had expressed an interest in hosting next year together with Copenhagen: Herning, Aalborg, Fredericia, and Horsens, but the Danish capital finally won out with their unique bid and choice of venue.
Emmelie de Forest’s win in in Malmö earlier this year brought Eurovision back to Denmark for the third time in the contest’s history. Copenhagen had been the host city after both of Denmark’s previous wins: 1964 after Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann’s win in London, and 2001 after the Olsen Brothers’ victory in Stockholm. The 1964 contest was held in famous amusement park Tivoli Garden’s grand classical concert hall, while 2011’s was held in Parken Stadium, which still holds the record for the largest Eurovision live audience at almost 38,000. This time, however, Eurovision is switching things up with choosing one of the most interesting venues in the show’s history. Thankfully, it’s not just a big tent pitched in front of DR’s headquarters, as one bid had suggested. Instead, they’re taking a whole island.
Refshaleøen, an island that used to be not much other than an industrial complex, is being transformed into Eurovision Island. In fact, the venue for the big event itself will be the B&W Hallerne, which used to serve as a shipyard but will be transformed into a space that will hopefully wow Eurovision fans everywhere. Pernille Gaardbo, Executive Producer for the 2014 contest, took the chance to create an all new Eurovision experience with this choice of venue. “Here we can produce an innovative TV show that previously has not been experienced in the history of competition,” said Gaardbo in an interview with DR. She also adds that “Copenhagen also offers all the conceivable cultural and accommodation options that have come to characterise an international city.”
Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor for the Eurovision Song Contest, agrees. “DR has a lot of ambitions,” he said in an interview with Eurovision.tv. “The very fact that the competition will be held at the B&W Hallerne has ignited imaginative and inventive ideas with the creative team.”
“I think it’s great to bring the contest back to Copenhagen,” said Sand. Indeed, Copenhagen is one of Europe’s most interesting cities; it has even been described as the most livable city in the world. Denmark’s capital serves as the bridge between Scandinavia and the rest of Europe, which makes this bustling metropolis a cultural hotspot. In fact, Copenhagen is at its most vibrant in the spring, right when the Eurovision Song Contest plans to take place in this city. Let’s take a look at what this Wonderful Copenhagen has to offer for Eurovision fans:
A Green City
One of the selling points of Copenhagen’s bid for Eurovision host is its reputation for being environmentally friendly. Copenhagen has even been named as the European Green Capital 2014 by the European Commission. There are many options for organic restaurants, bicycling is one of the main methods of transport, and most hotels in the city have environmental plans as well.
The Sound of Copenhagen
Eurovision is all about the music, and Copenhagen is home to venues for tunes of all types. Whether you’re a fan of the classics, or a purveyor of pop, Copenhagen’s music scene is alive and vibrant. Aside from the aforementioned Tivoli Concert Hall that hosted the 1964 Eurovision Song Contest, Copenhagen is home to the Danish National Symphony Orchestra in Copenhagen Music Hall, as well as the Copenhagen Opera House (pictured left), touted as one of the most modern in the world. Also in Copenhagen, Vega is one of the biggest venues for pop music in the world. Vega presents about 250 concerts a year in genres ranging from electronic to pop to metal. Jazz is also big in Copenhagen, and has been since the 1960s. The Copenhagen Jazzhouse alone hosts over 200 concerts every year, and the yearly Copenhagen Jazz Festival draws over 200,000 jazz lovers to the city from all over the world.
LGBT in Copenhagen
It’s a well-known fact that the LGBT+ community has been a big part of what makes Eurovision a successful endeavor, which makes gay-friendly Copenhagen a great choice of host. The city has a long history of acceptance towards gay people, whether local or tourists. In fact, Denmark was the first country to recognize same sex marriages in 1989. Copenhagen also has Centralhjørnet, one of Europe’s oldest gay bars, having been established in 1917. The city even hosted the 2009 World Outgames, an international event celebrating sports and culture in the gay community. Copenhagen Pride is also always a big event in August, often hosting Eurovision artists, such as 2013 winner Emmelie de Forest who performed there last month.
A Watery Wonderland
Overlooking the Øresund strait on the islands of Zealand and Amager, Copenhagen is a coastal city where water is practically omnipresent. From the busy canals of Christianshavn to the colorful waterfront of Nyhavn, the Danish capital’s nautical atmosphere certainly brings an interesting feel to urban life. The city’s beaches are an integral part of Copenhageners’ leisure time, where visitors can not only swim but also visit bars by night and have picnics underneath the Danish sun by day. You can also take a boat tour through the canals of Copenhagen or bike through the scenic waterside city.
Copenhagen also has a number of entertaining educational destinations for water lovers. The newly-opened Blue Planet Aquarium is the biggest in Northern Europe and features over 20,000 marine animals from all over the world. The Maritime Museum of Denmark is also close by, being just a 45 minute drive from Copenhagen in historic Elsinore. If you’re into ships, sailors, and the sea, this architectural wonder is a must-see for its large-scale model ships and interactive exhibits.
Join Us… For Dinner!
Food would definitely be one of the highlights for your stay in Copenhagen. Did you know that noma, one of the best restaurants in the world (ranked first from 2010 to 2012!) is right in Copenhagen? In addition to that, the city is home to 12 other Michelin starred restaurants such as the world renowened Geranium and Relæ. If you’re the kind of person who loves fine dining, Copenhagen is the city for you.
On a stricter budget? Copenhagen has a number of options for the less affluent Eurovision fans. The inner city has a number of all-you-can-eat buffets where you can sample a variety of food for cheap. Shawarma and pizza are also common in Copenhagen, as well as the ubiquitous pølsevogn where you can get yourself a delicious hot dog. Don’t forget to try an authentic Smørrebrød at a local bakery while you’re there. These open-faced sandwiches are a filling lunch tradition you wouldn’t want to miss.
There’s a lot more to do in Copenhagen than mentioned above. From fun to fashion to fine art, Copenhagen full of exciting things to see and do, and Eurovision season will definitely make it even more interesting. As next year’s slogan goes, “Join Us!” Copenhagen awaits!
What are you most excited to experience in Copenhagen during this year’s Eurovision Song Contest? Tell us in the comments below and keep watching ESCUnited as we update you on the latest news on ESC 2014.