When Ukraine swept the popular vote at Eurovision 2022, making it one of the all-time top vote-getters and soundly beating first runner-up U.K., it was a cathartic win and vote of support from the Eurovision voters across the globe. It was also a major logistical problem. Winning Eurovision isn't just about the band in question becoming super famous overnight, record contracts, and hit songs. The country that wins also has the privilege of hosting the following year's contest, and their musical act is given a free pass to the Grand Final.
That sounds lovely, as was the sentiment voiced by Ukraine's extraordinarily media-savvy president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy: "Next Year, Mariupol!" But though the dream of hosting Eurovision in the newly restored free capital of Ukraine was one everyone would have liked, reality was not so kind. Less than a week later, the city was declared to have fallen to Russia, and though the fight was not over, it would not be a city that could host the most watched non-sporting event in the world.
Despite Brexit, Boris Johnson, and everything else, the U.K. remains one of Eurovision's "Big Five," the countries that donate the lion's share of funds to put on the contest year after year. And, magically, they were first runner-up (a feat that shocked just about everybody, seeing that the U.K. is, at this point, famous for how badly they do in the contest most years). The most practical solution then is for the U.K. to take over hosting duties and produce the 2023 contest in partnership with Ukraine.
BBC Director General Tim Davie confirmed that despite Ukraine trying to hold out for a miracle, their delegation had accepted the inevitable in the past few weeks. "It is a matter of great regret that our colleagues and friends in Ukraine are not able to host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest. The BBC is committed to making the event a true reflection of Ukrainian culture alongside showcasing the diversity of British music and creativity,"
This is a massive deal for anglophiles, who assumed that Eurovision held in the U.K. was about as likely to be seen in this lifetime as a female monarch succeeding Queen Elizabeth II. The city has not been determined yet, but Davie said the search was underway to determine where the contest would be held. Notably, London is currently not listed as an option. Instead, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool are the top four cities that have expressed interest.
The European Broadcasters Union has not yet set dates for Eurovision 2023. However, they are expected to remain in the usual second week of May spot on the calendar, which would put the Semi-finals on Tuesday, May 9, and Thursday, May 11, with the Grand Final on Saturday, May 13, 2023. Here in the U.S., all three are expected to be streamed live on Peacock.