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Eurovision to be held in UK in 2023, with Belfast still in running to be chosen as host city


The UK's Sam Ryder performs at Eurovision (Eurovision/PA)

The UK's Sam Ryder performs at Eurovision (Eurovision/PA)

The UK's Sam Ryder performs at Eurovision (Eurovision/PA)

The Eurovision Song Contest will be hosted in the UK next year, it has been confirmed on Monday.

The annual European song competition will not be held in the 2022 winning country, Ukraine, due to the ongoing war there following Russia’s invasion.

Tweeting about the news on Monday, UK prime minister Boris Johnson said: “Last week President Zelenskyy and I 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.”

Organisers confirmed the news to BBC News and while it’s not known which city will be chosen for the popular music event, many local politicians have suggested that Belfast be selected.

Cities will have to prove they have the right facilities and go through a bidding process. Others in the running include Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham, Aberdeen, London, Brighton, Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester.

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The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said the host venue should accommodate around 10,000 spectators, be within easy reach of an international airport and have enough hotel accommodation for at least 2,000 delegates, journalists and spectators.

Next year will mark the ninth time Eurovision has taken place in the UK – more than any other country.

Simon Hamilton, chief executive of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce and a former DUP Economy Minister, said Northern Ireland’s capital city now has an excellent track record of hosting major events and should be a main contender for the 2023 showcase.

He said: “With UNESCO City of Music status recently secured and a great track record of hosting large scale events, Belfast would be perfect city for hosting Eurovision.”

Belfast councillors Anthony Flynn and Seamas De Faoite also wrote to the chief executives of Belfast City Council and Visit Belfast last month, suggesting that the city should be considered as a host.

Ukraine's entrant Kalush Orchestra won this year's contest in May in a symbolic show of public support, while Sam Ryder came second for the UK, the country's best result since 1998.

Brooke Scullion from Derry represented Ireland after winning the The Late Late Show Eurosong 2022 Special back in February.

UUP councillor Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston has called on the UK Government to back Belfast as the 2023 host city.

"In 2021 Belfast was named Best Events Destination at the annual Conference & Incentive Travel Magazine awards,” she said.

“In November of the same year it was also awarded the prestigious City of Music status by UNESCO.

"With over 3,000 hotel rooms, two city linked airports and a venue with capacity, Belfast, not forgetting our vast experience having hosted major events such the Giro d'Italia, World Police and Fire Games and the MTV Music Awards, should be the U.K's leading contender for the 2023 Eurovision Song contest.

"Northern Ireland has been the focus of European and U.K relations of late, it seems only fitting that we be afforded this incredible opportunity to showcase our capital city and demonstrate our growing ability.”

The Belfast representative revealed party leader Doug Beattie MLA has written to officials about the issue.

“[He] has penned a letter to both the Northern Ireland office and the UK Culture Secretary expressing our enthusiasm for Belfast and requesting their support," Ms Corr-Johnston said.

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