Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Chronicle Live
Chronicle Live
Simon Duke

I went to Eurovision and had the time of my life - the story of a fan whose dream finally came true

For some people Eurovision is just an event that happens once a year, but to others it's basically a religion and I'm more than happy to admit that I fall into the latter category, having been pretty much obsessed with the Contest since the age of six.

My mum and dad have a lot to answer for, letting me stay up past my bedtime to catch sight of the UK act that year, with that brief glimpse of the world famous event enough to light the touch paper on a love affair that has been going strong ever since. Like every relationship there has been some tough times - Sonia losing the crown right at the death in 1993, Gina G being criminally underscored in 1996 and the 'nul points' disasters for Jemini (more of them later!) and James Newman; but the thing that keeps me coming back for more is the fact that there really is NOTHING quite like the Eurovision Song Contest.

Where else would you get raunchy milkmaids, guitar playing monsters, dancing Russian grannies and a singing turkey? I rest my case. And we can now add a man in a neon green bolero doing a human centipede with his dancers to that list as well!

READ MORE: Mae Muller mocks Eurovision result on TikTok as fans furious.

So taking all that on board, as soon as it was confirmed that the UK would be hosting on behalf of Ukraine this year, I just knew I HAD to go, whatever the cost, and , believe me, that ended up being pretty hefty!

When the tickets were first put on sale in March, I feared the worst, realising, to my horror, that I would be on a train at the precise moment they were released. Somehow and, with massive thanks to LNER's Wi-Fi and the woman sat opposite who went through every single emotion with me over the course of a tense 45 minute ordeal, I managed to get some for the first semi final - already knowing that former Eurovision winner and eventual 2023 champion Loreen would be competing in that. The long held dream looked like finally becoming a reality.

Fast forward two months and, having changed plans to go a night earlier, in order to see Samantha Janus perform her far too often maligned 1991 entry Message to Your Heart in a nightclub, it was time to head to Liverpool. The excitement I felt getting on that train, helped along by a few wines during the journey, was truly next level and setting foot in the station to be greeted by 'Welcome to Eurovision' signs and posters everywhere, I'll confess to getting a bit choked up as a huge wave of excitement for what was to come washed over me.

I knew Eurovision would be an experience and a half, but even I underestimated just how incredible it would be. While gutted that Newcastle lost out and didn't get to do the honours, I take my hat off to Liverpool for being the best host city that event could have asked for. Literally EVERYONE was talking about the Contest; from hotel receptionists, to cabbies, shop workers and servers in restaurants - there was no escaping the fact Eurovision had come to town and no-one seemed to want to.

The buzz around the whole place was electric from start to finish and that was also very much the case inside the holy grail - the M&S Bank Arena, where all of the live shows were held. Walking into it and seeing the stage for the first was a real pinch yourself moment. The lad who still plays Precious' Say It Again all the time and, to this day, can't fathom just why Javine did so badly in 2005 or why the rest of Europe just didn't 'get' Scooch, was finally achieving his goal of actually being at Eurovision.

And, probably the best thing about the whole week was being surrounded by people who were just as mad about Eurovision.. The ear to ear smiles on everyone's faces as they awaited performances from their favourite acts, traded opinions on who would do well and cheered on their own country could warm even the coldest of hearts. The enthusiasm for drinking in every drop of Eurovision had to offer was utterly contagious.

While a coveted ticket for the grand final sadly stayed out of reach, I did, after constantly refreshing the Ticketmaster app, end up bagging one for the Jury Final, which, as fans will know, is the same final TV viewers get to see, only a day earlier and getting to be in the standing zone and so close to the stage for the epic and goosebump inducing Liverpool Songbook interval was a moment that will live long in the memory.

Now when you go to Eurovision, there is of course the option of just going to the arena or fan zone and then calling it a night to make sure you're ready for the next day's endeavours, but then there is also the temptation to wholeheartedly adopt the YOLO attitude and party into the early hours with your fellow superfans. And my bank balance and fragile state as I write this is conclusive evidence I definitely went for the second choice.

Where there is Eurovision, there is Euro Club, a pop up nightclub which plays wall to wall Eurovision songs. Now, while I'm happy to accept that would be some people's idea of hell, it was like a musical mecca for me and countless others. This was a place where you could dance like no-one was watching to underrated Eurovision entries from over the years and, believe me, the DJs knew their market, as when I tell you they went niche, they went NICHE! Anyone remember, Yodel in the Canyon of Love, the song Katrina and the Waves beat to represent the UK in 1997? Or Deuce's I Need You,. that lost Song for Europe in 1995? Both present and correct and this was only on night one!

Euro Club was also a platform for Eurovision icons to step back into the spotlight and, 20 years on from their infamous 'nul points' finish, Jemini were received like they had actually won the competition by their captive Euro Club audience. Booking them to perform on home turf was an inspired move by organisers.

The Eurovision party was carried into pretty much every bar in Liverpool city centre, from the world renowned Cavern Club, where 2022 hero Sam Ryder played a few gigs, to Yates and Wetherspoons and always packed out The Masquerade, which became a firm favourite with Eurovision fans and stars, including BBC host Rylan, who quickly became a regular.

Venues that typically prioritise showing sport put Eurovision front and centre and it was an absolute joy to behold, with flags adorning walls and ceilings and Eurovision tracks blasting from every speaker.

I type this love letter for Eurovision wishing I could do the last seven days all over again and ever so slightly seething about the poor result for the UK.

Getting to be at Eurovision was hands down the best week of my life and it wasn't until I got on the train home and spent a few hours in the sole company of my camera roll that I truly took it all in.

Not entirely sure I needed all the merchandise I appear to have acquired or that I'll be able to do anything that involves spending money for the foreseeable future but, you know what? It was totally worth it!

Now, how do I go about starting a fundraising page to get to Sweden next year?


Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.