Culture

Here’s Why You Need To Put Eurovision On Your Bucket List

While there are some who make the great pilgrimage, jumping continents to attend music festival institutions such as Tomorrowland, Coachella and Lollapalooza, I make my way to dance up a storm at the world’s biggest song contest, Eurovision.

Yes, I can admit, I am unashamedly a tragic for the Eurovision Song Contest. And with Eurovision 2019 quickly approaching, with semi-final competitions leading up to the final event on 18 May, you may soon be a die-hard fan yourself.

Eurovision 2019 Kate Miller-Heidke Australian entrant performs in the Eurovision Song Contest's semi-finals

Australian entrant Kate Miller-Heidke rehearses for this year’s event. Image: Thomas Hanses / Eurovision

I caught Eurovision fever in my younger years, and it quickly became a bucket list goal of mine to see the ultimate kitsch event in person. You bet I’d be wearing all that shimmers and sparkles.

Everyone should see Eurovision at least once

 

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It’s just unlike like any other event on this planet. While some may be gung-ho about sports, Eurovision is my kind of Olympics where I like to see sweat, tears and high octave eights play out. The competition pits nations against one another by showcasing vocal gymnastics, marathon sprints across the stage, colourful (and questionable) costume attire, synchronised dance routines and sometimes fireworks all for glory for their country.

The first experience I had up close and personal with the event was back in 2015 in Tallinn, Estonia. I attended Eesti Laul, the Estonian national selection final for the artist to compete in the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest.

Most nations select their entrant this way with a similar event, and Australia followed suit this year with Australia Decides event on the Gold Coast (cue my feelings of joy). Attending one of these events is an inexpensive way to get in on the action if you’re keen to have some Eurovision in your life.

It brings people together

Eurovision 2019 fans support their favourites by dressing up at previous Eurovision Song Contest events

Fans support their favourites at a previous Eurovision Song Contest event. Image: Julia D’Orazio

Despite barely knowing even five Estonian words to string together, I was so enthralled by it all. I couldn’t contain my excitement at the national selection – I was one step closer to my dream!

Two years later, after having my Eurovision taster, I made my way to Kiev on a circuitous route of flights, overnight buses and trains via Poland to reach my dream. The things you would do to see an Italian dancing gorilla on stage, right?

The actual main song contest morphs the host city into a living and breathing musical for a week. Each host city stages a Eurovillage, a place where locals and visitors can get together and hit up the pop up bars – impromptu Eurovision karaoke sessions are common practice. Centrally located, these villages also feature live music and activities to be quickly sucked into. (Hello dress ups and photoshoots!)

It’s just joyful

 

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I would find it hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world that would be just as jovial and colourful than the people attending the Eurovision semi-finals and grand final. People go to extreme lengths to look like their favourite Eurovision stars. Luckily, eBay exists for a reason, and I managed to score a second rate ABBA costume and a silver wig. (Eurovision on a budget – it’s possible.)

Scoring tickets to the live event can be a bit of a feat, so my best advice is to get in early. Over the years I have managed to attend three semi-finals and a grand final (money well spent IMO). Even if you don’t make it to the live events, there are the rehearsal and jury shows that you can attend at a fraction of the cost for the same show and enjoy the buzzing atmosphere.

It’s about more than the one concert

 

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Eurovision isn’t solely about the songs themselves – it comes down to the props and outfits the entrant uses and wears. It doesn’t just let people think outside the box, it kicks that box into the glitter-confetti-filled stratosphere with some downright bizarre performances including human-sized hamster wheels, an Irish turkey that looked as though it was plucked out of Sesame Street, burning coffin-like pianos, bread ovens, you name it.

This year’s Met Gala theme was “Camp” – well, you could argue that nothing does camp better than Eurovision, with its fashion-forward ways. After all, the event has previously introduced us to metallic flares (Sweden’s ABBA), a sequinned Dracula (Romania’s Cezar), futuristic Tin Man (Ukraine’s Verka Serduchka) and even a dress that could double up as a cinema screen (Estonia’s Elina Nechayeva).

 

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Following on from going to an official event, whether it be the semi- or grand final, there’s always an afterparty in the host city. EuroClub is where you get to mingle with current and past Eurovision stars and diehard fans to dance the newly minted remixes of your new favourite event songs. The night gets sweaty, people are losing it and its an ultimate heaven for all those who love Europop. I even met the Danish Rasmussen’s fellow Vikings in Lisbon one night last year.

If you want to have the best of European culture on a platter, attending the contest is your ultimate main course. People from around the continent are not only bringing on their best Eurovision-inspired outfits, but they are also bringing their best voices and gleeful attitudes to join in on the fun and celebration of music.

The main event is going down in Tel Aviv, Israel, right now, and I’ll be there, soaking up the Eurovision atmosphere of culture and joy.

Check out Qantas flights to begin your next adventure.

(Image: 2019 Croatian entry Roko rehearses before the main event, Thomas Hanses / Eurovision)