Whether you’ve been an avid follower of the contest for years or you’ve only recently been introduced to the bold, bright singing extravaganza, the contest is as good a reason as anyway to make a getaway to Liverpool this May.
The longest-running annual singing contest in the world, Eurovision typically sees dozens of European nations taking part, with the winner’s home country then hosting the following year’s event. But this year, things are a little different. Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra was the champion of Eurovision 2022, with the UK’s Sam Ryder cinching second place. Due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the runner-up nation – specifically, the city of Liverpool – stepped in to host this year’s competition in mid-May.
Liverpool deserves the honor, for several reasons. First, its musical prowess is undeniable. Not only did the World Capital of Pop (so named by the Guinness Book of Records) produce the Beatles, but it’s also nurtured countless other amazing acts over the decades, from Elvis Costello to the Wombats. Liverpool is additionally one of the most culture-packed and budget-friendly destinations in the UK, with free museums, gorgeous green spaces and vintage shopping venues galore.
While Ukraine may not be able to host Eurovision 2023, we can expect to see some touching tributes to last year’s winning country both at official events and during various citywide celebrations. This includes the two-week-long EuroFestival that’s set to feature over a dozen collaborative performances from both UK and Ukrainian artists.
If you’ve already scored tickets to the Eurovision 2023 final...lucky you. The main event on Saturday May 13 will take place at the Liverpool Arena, perched right on the River Mersey and just steps from the Royal Albert Dock. As well as unveiling the winners, the live show will feature performances by Kalush Orchestra, various Eurovision icons and some of Britain’s biggest pop stars. In addition, there are two live semi-final shows on May 9 and 11.
But if you weren’t quite quick enough to bag tickets, never fear: Liverpool’s social calendar is buzzing with Eurovision-themed events that are well worth adding to your itinerary. For starters, the area around Liverpool Arena is set to be transformed into the Eurovision Village, where there’ll be huge screens streaming all three live shows. You can also book tickets to viewings at iconic Liverpool sites like the monumental St George’s Hall and the evocative St Luke’s Bombed Out Church. Note that hotel rooms will be at a premium on Eurovision weekend, and finding accommodation at this stage will be difficult.
Scousers (Liverpool locals) famously love a party. Prepare to see the city’s revelers – hair curled, shirts pressed and glitter donned – out in full force on Eurovision weekend. Most bars and clubs will be throwing themed parties (including plenty of LGBTQ+ friendly options). Many hotels, theaters and cinemas are planning live screenings perfect for those with kids.
Eurovision aside, May is one of the best times to visit Liverpool in general. Warmer weather makes strolling along the waterfront and through the grand Georgian Quarter a delight. The city’s parks are usually awash with blooms by late spring. And on rainier days, you’ll find Liverpool’s best museums are great places to retreat to (and typically much less crowded than in the summer months).
No matter if you’re cheering on the finalists in the arena or soaking up the celebratory ambiance in a local bar, one thing is for sure: Eurovision 2023 in Liverpool an event you won’t soon forget.
Where to eat in Liverpool
If you’re wondering what to eat in Liverpool during Eurovision, you’ll have plenty of choices thanks to Liverpool Arena’s riverfront location. Craving dinner with a view? Tuck into tapas, meze or Thai at one of the restaurants lining the Albert Dock. If you’d rather savor the city’s independent food scene, the nearby Baltic Triangle and Ropewalks neighborhoods are home to ample hip brunch spots and a duo of food markets. Liverpool ONE – the city’s open-air shopping center – is also a short hop away from the arena and features lots of familiar chains.
Where to drink in Liverpool
Liverpool’s lively and eclectic nightlife scene is lauded across the UK. Cool craft breweries and picture-perfect gin gardens dot the Baltic Triangle, while the Cavern Quarter is the domain of rowdy Irish pubs and Beatles-themed bars. You’ll come across a few brilliant rooftop venues, too. Sip cocktails with a view of the Royal Liver Building at Oh Me Oh My, or soak up the laid-back party vibe at PINS Social Club. A good chunk of Liverpool’s bars will be hosting Eurovision final screenings on the 13th, so it’s worth pre-booking tickets/tables where possible.
Where to stay in Liverpool
Finding somewhere to stay when the contest takes place will be tough at this stage. Still, when it comes to where to stay in Liverpool for Eurovision, the obvious choice would be somewhere near the riverfront. There’s a string of cheaper chain hotels on the Strand as well as a YMCA. If you want to splurge, check out the trendy Baltic Hotel on Jamaica St or the Hilton Liverpool City Centre, ideally located on the edge of Liverpool ONE. There are heaps of rentals scattered across the city too, including those nestled in grand townhouses in the Georgian Quarter.