The Eurovision Song Contest, sometimes popularly called Eurovision but not to be confused with the Eurovision network that broadcasts it, is the longest-running annual international TV song competition, held, primarily, among the member countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) since 1956.
Let’s find out some fun facts about it!
1. The competition was based upon the existing Sanremo Music Festival held in Italy since 1951.
2. Each participating country submits an original song to be performed on live television and radio and then casts votes for the other countries’ songs to determine the most popular song in the competition.
3. The contest has been broadcast every year for sixty-one years, since its inauguration in 1956, and is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world. It is also one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world, with audience figures having been quoted in recent years as anything between 100 million and 600 million internationally.
4. Eurovision has also been broadcast outside Europe to several countries that do not compete, such as the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and China.
5. An exception was made in 2015, when Australia was allowed to compete as a guest entrant as part of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the event.
6. In November 2015, the EBU announced that Australia was invited back as a participant in the 2016 contest after their success in 2015. Following their success again in 2016, Australia will compete again in 2017.
7. Since 2000, the contest has also been broadcast over the Internet via the Eurovision website.
8. Winning the Eurovision Song Contest provides a short-term boost to the winning artists’ career, but rarely results in long-term success.
9. Notable exceptions are ABBA (winner in 1974 for Sweden), Bucks Fizz (winner in 1981 for the United Kingdom) and Céline Dion (winner in 1988 for Switzerland), all of whom launched successful worldwide careers after their wins.
10. Ireland holds the record for the highest number of wins, having won the contest seven times—including four times in five years in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996.
11. Under the current voting system, the highest scoring winner (and only winner) is Jamala of Ukraine who won the 2016 contest in Stockholm, Sweden with 534 points.
12. Under the previous system, in place from 1975 to 2015, the highest scoring winner is Alexander Rybak of Norway with 387 points in 2009.
13. 95 percent of the Danish viewing public saw the 2001 contest on TV – the highest percentage in Europe.
14. Austria boycotted the 1969-contest in Madrid because Spain at that time was ruled by Francisco Franco.
15. The percentage of viewers for Eurovision Song Contest has been higher in Australia than in some of the competing nations.
16. In 1969 there were four winners! They all had the same points, and back then there were no rules for a tie. If there’s a tie today, the country with points from most countries will win.
17. Finland had to wait forty-four years since their debut in 1961 to achieve their first victory. They had only received three 12 points in the history of the contest up to the 2006 contest, and none since 1977.
18. The first scandal in Eurovision history occurred in 1957 where the Danish singers Birthe Wilke and Gustav Winckler kissed for 11 seconds in the end of the song. Generating a furious reaction.
19. The 60th Eurovision Song Contest in 2015 had a record number of countries in the Grand Final: 27.
20. In 2011 Azerbaijan won the Grand Final with the song “Running Scared”, but only came second in their semi-final. Greece won the semi-final, but came 7th in the Grand Final.
21. Morocco has participated in Eurovision Song Contest. But only once. It was in 1980 and they ended second-last. Morocco only received points from Italy
22. Eurovision Song Contest is broadcast across five continents.
23. From 1978 to 1998 the rules stated that each country had to sing in one of their national languages.
24. Norway has ended last nine times! They came last in 1963, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1990, 1997 and 2001
All Eurovision songs must not be longer than three minutes.
25. Eurovision Song Contest always begins with the fanfare “Prélude du Te Deum” composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier.
26. In 1956, every participating country could enter with two songs. The Netherlands were the first country to sing a song on Eurovision with “De vogels van Holland” (the birds of the Netherlands).
27. There have been five barefoot winners in Eurovision history: Sandie Shaw (1967), Sertab Erener (2003), Dima Bilan (2008), Loreen (2012) and Emmelie De Forest (2013).
28. Luxembourg has won 5 times. But none of the 5 winners came from Luxembourg. Four were French and one (Vicky Leandros) Greek.