Belfast Telegraph

Meet the Eurovision fanatics eagerly awaiting this Saturday's contest

By Jenny Kirkham

Expected to be the biggest year so far, this Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest has attracted a legion of viewers that wouldn't miss it.

Eurovision unites a  band of different domestic ‘tribes’ in the big night of live viewing with as many as 19% of viewers being labelled 'patriots' who cheer loud for the UK. Around 20% regard themselves as ‘Superfans’ while almost a third of people plan to watch the final in secret.

One person who is not ashamed to divulge their plans for Eurovision is Shay Toman, a 39-year-old Eurovision ‘fanatic’ from Lurgan who is travelling to Austria for this year’s final.

He said: “I’ve loved Eurovision for as long as I can remember and most definitely fall into the ‘Superfan’ category. When I’m not at the final I have a huge Eurovision-themed party in my house every year – a tradition which I started in my halls of residence at university.

Shay has been a member of the Eurovision fan club - OGAE - since 1995 and this will be his second year travelling to the event.

Another self-confessed 'SuperFan', 27-year-old Bobby Blair from Newtownabbey will be planning his annual Eurovision bash down to the very balloons he displays.

This will be Bobby's ninth Eurovision party and he says that usually he could have anything up to 30 guests: "This year wont be as big but I've still got all my decorations in.

"Usually everyone dresses up as a country but we're doing a Union Jack Theme this year.

Bobby first got interested in the competition in 1996 when Australian Singer Gina G represented the UK.

As many as 180 million people across the world are expected to watch the Final, which will feature an Australian entry for the very first time.

This year's Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in Vienna, Austria. The final takes place on Saturday 23 May.

Electro Velvet are flying the flag for the UK with their electro-swing track I'm Still in Love with You.

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