Following Friday’s announcement by the EBU that a feasibility study into the 2023 contest had concluded the contest was not able to be hosted in the winning country of 2022, Ukraine, the broadcasters’ union has begin talks with the BBC about potentially hosting Eurovision 2023 in the United Kingdom. This would mark the first time since 1980 that the previous winning nation did not host the next contest, the first time in the semi-final era and also the first British hosting since 1998 in Birmingham.
Since the EBU’s announcement, the excitement levels for the contest in the United Kingdom have gone up even further, despite the bittersweet nature of the announcement for many. Now, a great number of cities in the country are throwing their support behind local bids to host Europe’s showpiece event and pay tribute to Ukraine’s victory in Turin.
Here are all of the cities, in alphabetical order, hoping to bring the Eurovision Song Contest to their back yard in 2023 if the BBC accept the honour on behalf of the Ukrainians;
Aberdeen (pop. 220k)
The third largest city in Scotland and the most northern city currently bidding to host the contest, Aberdeen’s jewel in the crown for their bid is their venue; the 15,000 capacity P&J Live. With the largest venue in Scotland and the fifth largest in the United Kingdom, a number of Scottish MPs have written to the BBC to consider the city for next year’s contest.
Bring Eurovision to Aberdeen!
Also, hashtag suggestions welcome. Best so far probably #EuROWIEvision pic.twitter.com/zvR1ZIjUz1
— Kirsty Blackman (@KirstySNP) June 17, 2022
With a rich history and a coastal location, Aberdeen is known as one of the fastest growing cities in the UK for business and has produced a number of musical talents, including Annie Lennox and Emeli Sandé.
Belfast (pop. 340k, urban 671k)
The capital of Northern Ireland has thrown its weight behind a bid to bring the contest home, having never previously hosted the contest. Despite this, chief executive of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, Simon Hamilton, has supported the idea, stating “With UNESCO City of Music status recently secured and a great track record of hosting large scale events, Belfast would be perfect city for hosting Eurovision.” The SSE Arena would be the likely venue, holding 10,800.
Belfast, as the largest city in Northern Ireland, has a growing economy and a rich history in shipbuilding and is the home of the shipyard that constructed the Titanic. The city has produced musical talents such as influencial rock singer Van Morrison, 90s electronic artists Agnelli & Nelson and former Irish representatives Linda Martin and Brian Kennedy.
While many would welcome a contest in Belfast, it may prove to be one of the more controversial choices, given the political history of the city and its role within the neighbouring United Kingdom and Ireland. Indeed, Belfast was being considered as a potential host city for the 1995 contest, in a co-hosting between both nations as the continued cost of staging the event in Ireland begun to bite during the 1990s.
Birmingham (pop 1.1m, urban 2.8m)
The United Kingdom’s second city, Birmingham is also notably the venue of the last British hosting of Eurovision in 1998, when Dana International won the contest for Israel. Whether this would go against their bid to host the contest again in 2023 remains to be seen, but Birmingham is certainly one of the cities most equipped to host international events of this scale.
With the news breaking on Friday night of the EBU’s decision, Birmingham City Council got to work quickly, launching a campaign to “Bring It Back to Birmingham”, with councillor Jack Deakin noting the city as “a fantastic place full of professional and grassroots culture & music, with our historic commitment to helping refugees in their time of need.”
Robert Alden, another councillor, suggested that the city’s links to Ukraine in recent times would also stand it in good stead to host the contest; “Brummies have been welcoming Ukrainians this year as part of the Homes for Ukrainians Scheme, with plans for up to 1000 to relocate here and it would be great to see all those who now call Birmingham home given free tickets. It also makes great sense as the City is well known for hosting large-scale international events and its position as Commonwealth Games hosts this year, best places Birmingham as the frontrunner.”
Birmingham’s venues including the Utilita Arena (formerly the National Indoor Arena), still standing after hosting the 1998 contest, and the National Exhibition Centre in the city’s outskirts. The city is served by Birmingham International Airport, one of the largest and busiest airports in the United Kingdom.
Brighton (pop. 290k, urban 474k)
Famously the host city of the 1974 contest that was won by a certain Swedish band called ABBA, Brighton’s place in Eurovision history is already cemented. It’s no surprise then, that the city on the southern coast of the UK has thrown its name into the mix for the 2023 competition.
Speaking on behalf of the local council, Brighton and Hove City Council leader Phelim MacCafferty said: “It would be an honour to host Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine. Of course, it was in Brighton and Hove that ABBA launched their global career when they won with Waterloo at the Brighton Dome in 1974.
“We’d love to see the event come back to the city and share some of our lucky stardust with the next global superstars.”
Home of one of the UK’s largest LGBT+ scenes and boasting better weather than most of the United Kingdom (a plus point for foreign visitors, of course!), as well as scenic views from Brighton Pier and the nearby observation tower, the city would be an interesting choice of host city. However, the Brighton Dome is now too small to host the contest, with a capacity of just 1,700.
Cardiff (pop. 369k, urban 479k)
The Welsh capital is currently the only city in Wales to have bid for hosting the contest. Cardiff’s location on the southern coast of Wales, proximity to England and the city’s international airport would provide both an idyllic location and an easy to reach venue for the 2023 contest.
Andrew Davies, leader of the Conservative Party in Wales, tweeted about the possibility of Cardiff hosting the contest following Friday’s announcement.
The Principality Stadium in Cardiff would be a great venue to host the prestigious contest, to showcase one of Wales' finest venues and to show the world the best of Cardiff and Wales.
— Andrew RT Davies (@AndrewRTDavies) June 17, 2022
In terms of venues, Cardiff has perhaps the most impressive of all bids; the Principality Stadium. The 70,000 capacity rugby stadium has a retractable roof and could play host to the largest Eurovision Song Contest of all time if selected. It is not known if acoustics and load bearing may cause issues with hosting, and it may be too large for the contest, but if the UK are going for a spectacle, perhaps the first Eurovision in Wales may be on the cards!
As well as the Principality, the Cardiff International Arena is an option, although with a capacity of 7,500 this might be slightly too small for the competition’s organisation.
Glasgow (pop. 635k, urban 1.02m)
The current bookies’ favourite and certainly one of the most impressive bids for the contest, Glasgow is seen by many as one of the front-runners to host Eurovision 2023. The OVO Hydro Arena is already familiar to many Eurovision fans, having acted as the host venue for the fictional contest in the Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga movie, and sits in an entertainment complex with a conference centre and other venues. Simply put, Glasgow could have everything needed to host the contest in a compact and scenic area of the city!
The city’s bid has the support of the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon. Once the news broke on Friday of the EBU’s plans to discuss hosting with the BBC, she tweeted about the perfect venues on the “banks of the River Clyde”
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 banks of the River Clyde!! @scotgov is happy to discuss with BBC, @GlasgowCC @EBU_HQ and others https://t.co/74YzxlWgWh
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) June 17, 2022
Scotland last hosted the contest in 1972 in Edinburgh, so it would be a welcome return to Scotland for the competition if Glasgow were to be selected. The city boasts a lot for tourists, including the scenic banks of the river, George Square and the surrounding area, bustling nightlife and two of Scotland’s strongest football teams, Celtic and Rangers.
The city is also home to the Scottish Opera, Ballet, National Orchestra and the BBC Scotland offices, conveniently situated across the river from the arena. Famous Glaswegian artists include Texas, Amy MacDonald, Simple Minds, Paolo Nutini, Primal Scream, Deacon Blue, Franz Ferdinand and Travis.
Leeds (pop. 790k)
Having been denied the opportunity of being voted the European Capital of Culture for 2023 due to Brexit, Leeds will be hoping to make up for lost time in Europe by hosting the Eurovision Song Contest at its 13,700 capacity First Direct Arena. The arena, operated by AGM Global who helped to organise the 2016 contest in Stockholm’s Avicii Arena, has been pushed by local councillors as the suitable 2023 venue.
“It 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” the councillors wrote yesterday following the EBU’s announcement.
“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. Given that we will be mid-way through the Leeds 2023 year of culture, it could not come at a better time.”
Lying in West Yorkshire, Leeds is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United Kingdom and boasts a proud history of alternative musical acts, including Soft Cell, Kaiser Chiefs, alt-J and The Sunshine Underground. The Leeds Festival, held ever year in the nearby Bramham Park every August, is one of the largest music festivals in the United Kingdom.
Liverpool (pop. 498k, urban 864k)
Known internationally as a musical city, and the birthplace of The Beatles, Liverpool would be another obvious choice for hosting Europe’s largest music event. As one of the most visited cities in the United Kingdom, Liverpool’s growth in recent years following the 2008 European Capital of Culture year has seen massive investment in the area.
A city with a rich history as a port and a naval gateway to the rest of the UK, Liverpool is also home to musicians such as Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Atomic Kitten, Lighting Seeds, The Wombats and 1993 representative Sonia. For football fans, Liverpool and Everton provide Premier League football, with their stadiums sitting just a few hundred meters away, across Stanley Park.
The M&S Bank Arena (Liverpool Arena) on the banks of the River Mersey would be an eye-catching venue for the competition, with the complex also boasting a conference centre and proximity to the city centre and scenic dockland areas.
Various councillors of the Merseyside city have tweeted their support for a Liverpudlian bid for Eurovision 2023, highlighting the musical heritage of the city and also its ties to the Ukrainian community.
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. #SlavaUkraini 🇺🇦 @DCMS @CultureLPool https://t.co/baRJJb9IEi
— Harry Doyle 🌹🏳️🌈 (@harrydoyle96) June 17, 2022
London (pop. 9.9m)
One of the largest cities in Europe and a global cultural, historical and financial centre, London is perhaps the obvious choice for many Eurofans when it comes to a British hosting of the contest. Having produced countless internationally famous acts like Queen, Pink Floyd, Adele, Spice Girls, Coldplay, George Michael and Dua Lipa (and many, many more), London’s influence on the world’s music scene and its international visibility as a leading tourist city cannot be understated.
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has tweeted about the British capital’s suitability to hosting the event and his hope to see London host “a contest that pays tribute to and honours the Ukrainian people” but also celebrate the “best of Britain”
Londoners would welcome Eurovision with open arms.
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
— Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@MayorofLondon) June 17, 2022
In terms of venues, well… take your pick! London’s vast array of world-class venues gives it multiple options, although the O2 Arena is often the talked-about choice, holding 20,000 – however scheduling and the cost of hosting the contest here may not be feasible. There has also been a desire within the United Kingdom over recent years to diversify where events are held and where funding is distributed in the UK, meaning London is an outsider shot to host the contest should the BBC accept.
Manchester (pop. 552k city, 2.7m urban)
Manchester is arguably the front-runner for Eurovision 2023 if the BBC were to host. Having slowly moved most of their operations (including the Eurovision delegation) to Salford Quays since 2010 and with the UK points in 2022 coming from the city, the northern city is the city many expect to be named as the 2023 host.
And it’s easy to see why – Manchester’s AO Arena is the largest in the United Kingdom and second largest in Europe, with a 21,000 capacity. Manchester is also building an even larger arena, due for completion sometime in 2023, although it is not expected to be ready in time for the contest.
The city’s strong transport links and accessibility for much of the northern UK makes it a viable alternative to London for BBC operations, and the city is known worldwide for its thriving music scene, producing acts like Oasis, The Smiths, Joy Division and New Order, The Stone Roses, Simply Red, The Chemical Brothers, Take That, Happy Mondays and The 1975.
The city is also known for housing two internationally known football clubs; current champions of England, Manchester City, and Manchester United, one of the world’s most recognised clubs and the current record holders in terms of English football titles.
Sheffield (pop. 640k)
The steel city of South Yorkshire, Sheffield’s 13,600 capacity Utilita Arena has been touted by local councillor Ben Miskell as the ideal host city for next year’s competition, owing to the arena’s size and the fact it is twinned with the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, currently embroiled in the war with Russia.
Sheffield has produced a number of internationally famous musical talents over the years, including Arctic Monkeys, Def Leppard, The Human League, Pulp, Bring Me The Horizon and Eurovision 2022 interval act performer Sophie and the Giants.
Hello Europe. This is Sheffield calling.
In solidarity with our twinned city of Donetsk 🇺🇦 we stand ready to host #Eurovision
With a 13k+ capacity arena, international airport & the friendliest people on earth, Sheffield & South Yorkshire is a natural choice for @bbceurovision pic.twitter.com/3rZDE6SxzV
— Cllr Ben Miskell 🇺🇦 (@benmiskell) June 17, 2022
Sunderland (pop. 174k)
A left-field option here from the northern city of Sunderland. Not generally the first name on anyone’s lips, but a councillor for the city, Dominic McDonough has suggested the city as a potential host for next year, suggesting “If Millstreet did it…”
Lying in the north east of England on the banks of the River Wear, Sunderland boasts a proud industrial history, with a recently diversified economy in automotive building, science and services. The city has a thriving underground music scene, producing acts like Frankie & The Heartstrings, The Futureheads and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics.
This would be the 9th time that the UK has hosted #Eurovision. More than any other country after we stepped in after other nations couldn’t host. First time since 1998. The campaign to bring it to #Sunderland starts now! If Millstreet can do it….
— Dominic McDonough (@torydom) June 17, 2022
The only major venue in Sunderland would be the Stadium of Light, home of the local football club Sunderland A.F.C. While the venue boasts an impressive capacity of 60,000 for concerts and has played host to many major international acts, the stadium doesn’t have a roof. Also, with the football season in England not finishing until early May, it is unlikely the club would move their final home fixtures to allow the contest to take place here.
Wolverhampton (pop. 249k)
A city that punches above its weight in the British music industry, Wolverhampton is another left-field choice and a possible alternative to Birmingham in the local area. Liam Payne, Slade, Cornershop, Babylon Zoo, Bibio, Beverley Knight and the lead singer of Dexys Midnight Runners all hail from the city despite its relatively small population size.
Former Mayor of the city and current councillor Claire Darke has suggested the contest should be welcomed to Wolverhampton in 2023, pledging a reunion performance of Liam Payne with his former One Direction band members.
“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.”
Indeed, there are only really two possible venues in Wolverhampton as mentioned above; Molineux Stadium, home of Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C., and the Wolverhampton Civic Hall. With the former having similar issues to other sport stadium bids, such as lack of availability or a roof, and the latter only having a capacity of 3,000, Wolverhampton’s bid looks unlikely to be chosen.
What other British cities could potentially bid?
With a large population and a booming music industry, there is no shortage of potential venues for the contest alongside the ones mentioned above. Newcastle upon Tyne and Nottingham both have venues with a capacity of 10,000+, while more left field choices like Bolton, Derby and Exeter may also decide to bid with their venues.
If the United Kingdom hosts, where would #YOU like to see it held? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!
You must be logged in to post a comment.