London, Manchester and Sheffield are among the cities offering to host Eurovision in the United Kingdom next year, with the capital’s mayor vowing to make it a contest that “celebrates the people of Ukraine and shows off the very best of Britain”.
Organisers the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) previously decided the event could not be held in the war-torn Ukraine following the Russian invasion.
This was despite Ukrainian entry Kalush Orchestra triumphing at this year’s competition in Turin, Italy, with the UK’s Sam Ryder the runner-up.
The bidding process to select the host city will begin this week and will be jointly managed by the BBC and EBU, with further details to be announced.
Any winner would require a large events space, suitable accommodation and international transport links for the competing countries and their delegations.
Sheffield City Council was among the first to announce a bid, saying on Twitter: “We’ve told Eurovision we’d love to host… watch this space.”
Manchester City Council confirmed it was also putting in a bid, with its leader Bev Craig tweeting: “A world class music city, brilliant venues, experience in hosting major events, and of course one of the UK’s largest Ukrainian populations – we are confident we will make it a #eurovision to remember.”
We are grateful to our BBC partners for showing solidarity with us. I am confident that together we will be able to add Ukrainian spirit to this event and once again unite the whole of Europe around our common values of peace, support, celebrating diversity and talent
Announcing London’s bid, mayor Sadiq Khan said the city was “ready and willing to step in” with a contest that “celebrates the people of Ukraine and shows off the very best of Britain”.
Glasgow also previously expressed an interest in hosting the contest with the city’s OVO Hydro arena saying it would be “delighted” to be involved in discussions.
In June, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also backed the city to host, tweeting: “I can think of a perfect venue on banks of the River Clyde!!”
It will be the ninth time Eurovision has taken place in the UK – more than any other country.
Ukraine will automatically qualify for the grand final alongside the so-called big five nations – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, who each get a free pass because of their financial contributions to the event.
Martin Osterdahl, Eurovision’s executive supervisor, said: “We’re exceptionally grateful that the BBC has accepted to stage the Eurovision Song Contest in the UK in 2023.
“The BBC has taken on hosting duties for other winning countries on four previous occasions.
“Continuing in this tradition of solidarity, we know that next year’s contest will showcase the creativity and skill of one of Europe’s most experienced public broadcasters whilst ensuring this year’s winners, Ukraine, are celebrated and represented throughout the event.”
The EBU’s decision in June to rule out Ukraine as the 2023 host prompted its culture minister Oleksandr Tkachenko to issue a statement “demanding to change the decision”.
Ukrainian state broadcaster UA:PBC also expressed its “disappointment” at the time and called on all parties to “hold further negotiations”.
Mykola Chernotytskyi, head of the managing board of UA:PBC, said next year’s contest “will not be in Ukraine but in support of Ukraine”.
He added: “We are grateful to our BBC partners for showing solidarity with us.
“I am confident that together we will be able to add Ukrainian spirit to this event and once again unite the whole of Europe around our common values of peace, support, celebrating diversity and talent.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK would “put on a fantastic contest on behalf of our Ukrainian friends”.
He said that in talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last week they “agreed that wherever Eurovision 2023 is held, it must celebrate the country and people of Ukraine”.
“As we are now hosts, the UK will honour that pledge directly – and put on a fantastic contest on behalf of our Ukrainian friends,” Mr Johnson said.
In a statement, BBC director-general Tim Davie said: “The BBC is committed to making the event a true reflection of Ukrainian culture alongside showcasing the diversity of British music and creativity.”
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “As hosts, the UK will honour the competition’s spirit and diversity, and, most importantly, ensure it reflects Ukraine’s recent Eurovision victory and Ukrainian creativity.”
This year’s contest in May saw Ryder top the jury vote before Kalush Orchestra went on to win overall following a symbolic show of public support which saw them soar to first place with 631 points.
They had been the frontrunners since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February – which prompted organisers to ban the Russian entrant from competing.
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