Eurovision 2023!


United By Music – a perfect phrase to capture the magical two weeks Liverpool has enjoyed sharing with the world.

Everything we have done has been with the awareness that we were hosting this year’s final on behalf of the Ukraine and wherever you went in the city or whoever you spoke to it was clear that Liverpool and Ukraine were very much united by music.

It is only a day since the final but looking back I don’t think I’ve ever known anything that has brought the city alive in such an amazing way. Everyone has got involved, local people, visitors, the travelling Eurovision fans who go to every final, and even an often cynical media have been completely seduced by our wonderful music filled city.

Why has it worked so well here? Well obviously we our a music city with a UNESCO City of Music designation. But that really only tells half the story – music is our lifeblood and if ever a city was destined to host a major music event like this then it was here. The whole city and everyone in it embraced Eurovision, including everyone who had never been a fan of the competition. We are a city that knows how to host large scale events because of experience gained through our Capital of Culture Year, our work with ‘the giants’, and numerous victorious homecoming parades for the mighty Liverpool Football Club. We are a city that despite more than its fair share of hard times knows how to party and if that was ever in doubt than ask anyone who has been here over the last two weeks. And most important of all we took our responsibility of hosting on behalf of the Ukraine incredibly seriously. Anyone who came to Liverpool or watched any of the celebrations over the two weeks knew that this was as much a Ukrainian events as a Liverpool one.

Far too much went on to tell you about in a short blog but highlights included our Eurovillage which provided free all day high quality entertainment in a gorgeous waterfront setting for 10 days and nights. So many amazing things to pick from but personal favourites included the ‘English National Opera Does Eurovision’, and the Eurotopia Supergroup led by local musicians Natalie McCool and Stealing Sheep working with a host of musicians from Ukraine and from Liverpool to produce one spectacular psychedelic extravaganza. Another really memorable night saw local artists enjoying the unique experience of playing to a packed crowd while the sun went down over the River Mersey. This was part of the National Lottery United By Music tour (in partnership with Music Venues trust). The evening began with Michael Aldag who  is a talented young artist that we have worked with since he was 16 and it is great to see his career on such an  upward trajectory. He came on stage in a Ukrainian football shirt and the crowd loved every minute of his energetic electro pop driven performance. Ian Broudie and the Lightning Seeds had everyone singing along to all their hits, including a rare outing for ‘Three Lions’, before Girls Don’t Sync had the whole village bouncing to their brilliant set.

So what has it done for the city apart from provide everybody with the chance to enjoy a huge two week long party? Well the obvious answer is that we have welcomed over 100,000 visitors which will have a significant economic impact for the city which has been estimated at over £30m. That only counts the actual period of Eurovision and the impact over the next two to three years will be much more. Our beautiful city has just been showcased all around the world for what is already being acknowledged as the best Eurovision ever. We know that many people who came here for the first time will have had such a good time that they will come back with family and friends. Similarly those people who have seen our beautiful city on their TV screens and heard visitors talking about their amazing experience here will want to come to visit and enjoy the city for themselves.

It clearly helps our music city brand and I will be working with colleagues to ensure that we make the most of this opportunity. If you are a music fan then there is so much happening here even when something as big as Eurovision has come and gone. Two weeks before Eurovision we had the Liverpool Sound City music festival and industry conference, in the middle of June we have Africa Oye which is the UK’s largest free celebration of African music and culture, and at the end of June back on our waterfront we have Cream on the Waterfront featuring local heroes Jamie Webster, Camelphat, The Coral, and Red Rum Club.

Eurovision isn’t over for Liverpool. We will feel the impact and benefit for many years and most of this will be captured in the evaluations that are being carried out now. Of course while we have been frantically planning and then managing all the activity we have always had an eye on the how we can ensure that the city and our music sector can ensure the most meaningful legacy from Eurovision. Our thinking around this will be explored at an international conference we are hosting in Liverpool on 14th July. The event is entitled Modern Music Cities: A Eurovision Legacy Conference. Full details will be announced shortly.

Liverpool has just shown the world we are a real music city that values music like no other place on earth. Our message is if you love music then you will really love Liverpool.

Kevin McManus
Head of UNESCO City of Music