The Eurovision Song Contest will be hosted by Liverpool next year after beating 19 other cities to stage the event on behalf of war-torn Ukraine.
The annual extravaganza will take place in the UK for the first time in 25 years on May 13, with Ukraine unable to host the event due to the Russian invasion.
Liverpool was one of 20 cities to bid to host the 67th Eurovision, beating Glasgow in the last two.
Graham Norton’s announcement on the BBC’s One Show on Friday kicked off six months of frantic preparation to stage one of the world’s most-watched music events.
However, some eagle-eyed viewers pointed out that they could see the name of the winning host city on the card before Norton read it.
One wrote on Twitter: “Incredible scenes during the Eurovision announcement as Graham Norton creates some tension ahead of the big reveal…holding a card saying ‘Liverpool 2023’.”
All eyes will be on the 11,000 capacity M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool for the three live events with two semi-finals and a four-hour grand final.
More than 160 million people from around the world tuned in to watch the three events in Turin, Italy in May this year.
Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said: “I am delighted that Eurovision is coming to Liverpool. This is a massive event and the eyes of the world will be on us in May, especially those of our Ukrainian friends.
“Now begins months of work to organize the best party ever. Ukraine – you have my promise that we will make you proud.
Claire McColgan, director of Culture Liverpool, said it was the “right city to host this event – it’s a bittersweet victory, but it will be a showcase of solidarity across the UK and Europe “.
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool Urban Region, said: “Home to more UK No. 1 hits than anywhere else, the birthplace of the Beatles, Cilla Black, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Real Thing, Elvis Costello, the Zutons – and now the host of Eurovision 2023 – the Liverpool city region is undoubtedly the cultural capital of the United Kingdom.
“We want to put on a show that Ukraine would be proud of, and we’ve worked closely with Liverpool’s sister city, Odessa, to make sure this event is as much their event as ours.”
Odessa Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov said: “It is a great pleasure to know that Liverpool’s bid is successful.
“Next year, all of Europe’s musical roads will lead to your city, and we are happy that not only will the Eurovision Song Contest decorate Liverpool, but the city itself will also grace the event. All of Odessa is looking forward to literally hear you.
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won this year’s competition with their song Stefania, a folk-rap ensemble they dedicated to all mothers in the country. In a statement, they said: “We are very happy that next year’s Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in Liverpool.
“Although we haven’t had the privilege of visiting it yet, the city’s musical heritage is known around the world. Playing in the same place where the Beatles started will be a moment we will never forget!
“While we are sad that next year’s competition cannot take place in our country, we know that the people of Liverpool will be warm hosts and that the organizers will be able to add a real Ukrainian flavor to Eurovision 2023 in this city.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had originally hoped to hold next year’s contest in the port city of Mariupol, scene of some of the war’s most devastating bombings, but agreed in July that Eurovision would not be possible as long as the fighting continued.
The UK has agreed to host Eurovision next year on behalf of Ukraine after finishing second with Sam Ryder’s Spaceman, the country’s highest position since 1996.
Nearly 10,000 people are involved in producing Eurovision song content and they are expected to start converging on Liverpool within weeks. The event will effectively occupy the city for almost two months, starting on the Easter weekend in April, and will attract thousands of tourists.
Liverpool will stage a cultural program that “represents modern Ukraine – a progressive, creative and ambitious country” and will open a Eurovision “village” around the M&S Bank Arena on its historic waterfront.
The heart of the city’s program will be an artist exchange and co-production between Ukrainian and Liverpool-based artists, in close collaboration with Odessa.
Statues and monuments in Liverpool will be dressed in winestraditional Ukrainian headdresses that became a symbol of resistance during the fight against Russia.
It will also feature a “takeover” by Ukrainian street artists and host a showcase of pysankapainted eggs that are central to Ukrainian culture around Easter.
For those who like the slightly ridiculous side of Eurovision, there will be a town-wide game of hide-and-seek involving cutouts of Sonia, the Skelmersdale-born singer who finished second at Eurovision 1993 with the song Better the Devil You Know.
McColgan said the extravaganza would be a “lifeline” for the city’s hospitality industry, which is still recovering from the pandemic, and would “give hope” to businesses that were “probably going to be on their knees.” during the winter”.