The shortlist of UK cities being considered to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest will be announced today – with an unlikely contender joining the bidding.
While cities including Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow and Brighton are on the list of those who’ve applied for the hosting gig, a less likely name is Darlington – a small city in the north east of England with an estimated population of just 650,000.
Despite its small size, it appears Darlington does, on paper, satisfy the critieria set by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) for any city wishing to host the enormous and growing contest, namely:
- Easy reach of an international airport
- A venue capable of holding up to 10,000 spectators
- A local infrastructure able to accommodate thousands of international delegates, media and fans
And Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen told the BBC that the town’s proximity to Teesside International Airport had been “one of the big drivers” in allowing the city to quality for consideration.
He added that the area “may be the underdogs that people frequently underestimate”, citing previous events held locally including BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend and the Rugby League World Cup.
The shortlist will be decided by the EBU and the BBC, which is responsible for the media coverage of the event.
It was confirmed last month that the UK will host the Contest next year, having come second in this year’s competition, which was won by Ukraine. Although the winner traditionally hosts the following year, the EBU decided with regret that Ukraine’s current conflict meant it would be unable to harness the resources necessary. The BBC and EBU have both made it clear that Ukraine will be a central part of the event next year, with fans encouraged to wave Ukraine flags.
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