May 7, 2016

Eurovision Song Contest 2016

The Eurovision Song Contest is being held in Stockholm this year. The contest itself will be held next week with the semi finals on May 10th & 12th and the grand final on Saturday May 14th. But the festivities have already kicked off with the opening of the Eurovision Village and Euro Fan Café as well as other events about the city.
Counting down at Norrmalmstorg.
So, what is the Eurovision Song Contest? If you are asking yourself this, you are probably not from Europe or Australia. But basically it is a song contest with participants representing countries in Europe as well as (recently) Australia. This year there are 42 countries taking part. What makes this contest really special is the history and size. The contest has been held annually since 1956 and last year 197 million viewers around the world watched Måns Zelmerlöw from Sweden win the grand prize in Vienna. The fact that Måns won last year is the reason the contest is in Sweden this year (the winning country hosts the next year). Sweden has actually won a total of 6 times and the only other country with more wins is Ireland  (7 wins). Maybe Sweden will win again this year?
The City Skyliner taking visitors up for views of the city.
This year the contest will actually be televised in the US on Logo channel. It is a little hard to describe to non Europeans the reason for the popularity of this televised contest... people generally love it or hate it. It is as famous for its bad acts as for its better acts. Several past winners however have gone on to bigger and better things (ABBA, Bicks Fizz, Celine Dion). Viewers vote for their favorite songs and there is always controversy with countries giving their neighbours their highest points, whether it is a good song or not (i.e. Cyprus and Greece). Complicated voting rules.
Ericsson Globe Arena (press image)
Here in Stockholm, the contest will be held at the Ericsson Globe Arena, which is located in the southern part of Stockholm. Interested in last minute tickets? Click here. There will also be a big viewing party in the neighbouring Tele2 Arena on Saturday night. Otherwise most of the other action will take place in the downtown area at Kungsträdgården (Eurovision Village) or Skeppsbron (Euro Fan Café and Euro Club). There will be many other "unofficial" events around the city. For example, the Hard Rock Café will have several performances with contest participants during the week.
The Euro Fan Café & Euro Club seen to the right, adjacent to the Royal Palace.
As I mentioned before, the festivities have already started even though the contest doesn't start until next week. Click here for a full schedule in English (downloadable pdf). At the Eurovision Village they will be having performances on both the main stage as well as on another stage ("Dammen") which is located under a glass ceiling each day (May 6th to 14th) between noon and midnight. They also have food and beverage tents as well as food trucks. Of particular interest... they will be showing the semi finals and finals on a large screen on the main stage. Free entrance! In the Village they also have erected a temporary 81 meter tall viewing tower called the City Skyliner. This tower gives you a beautiful 360 degree view of the city. It is open from 10am to midnight until May 22nd. It takes 60 persons at a time and costs 100 SEK for adults and 80 SEK for children.
The main stage in the Eurovision Village.
The indoor stage, or "Dammen", in the Village.
The Euro Fan Café is open daily from 11am to 8pm through may 13th (closed May 8th). Two floors, three conceptual rooms and four bars with great views over the water. Performances, food & drink as well as information about other Eurovision events. After 8pm the café turns into the Euro Club which is for delegations, press and accredited fans. Otherwise the city is decorated and pimped out for the festival... keep your eyes and ears open for the parties. The official after parties will be held at Operaterrassen (Tues through Sat). Tickets for the parties can be pre purchased online or at the door. Contact me directly if you are staying at the Rival Hotel and need more information. Click here for a full calendar of festivals and events in Stockholm during 2016.

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