Liverpool will host Eurovision in 2023, organizers of the musical competition announced on Friday, choosing the birthplace of the Beatles for one of Europe’s premier cultural events.
The announcement capped an unusual selection process, in which Ukraine, which earned the right to host next year’s event after winning this year’s contest in May, was ruled out by Eurovision organizers who said the war-torn country could not provide the necessary “security and operational guarantees.”
Instead, Britain, the runner-up in 2022, was named host. Liverpool was selected from a shortlist of seven cities that also included Glasgow, the runner-up, along with Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.
Ukraine had offered three potential locations that it said were safe from the fighting: Lviv, in western Ukraine; the Zakarpattia region, which borders Hungary and Slovakia; and the capital, Kyiv.
But the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the competition, announced in July that Britain would host instead. At the time, Martin Österdahl, Eurovision’s executive supervisor, pledged that Ukraine would be “celebrated and represented throughout the event,” with representatives from a Ukrainian broadcaster working with the BBC.
Tim Davie, the director general of the BBC, also said the network was “committed to making the event a true reflection of Ukrainian culture alongside showcasing the diversity of British music and creativity.”
Eurovision began in 1956, gathering musical artists from countries across Europe, as well as some farther afield, including Australia and Israel.
Britain has hosted the event eight times, most recently in 1998 in Birmingham.
The selection will bring a major international spotlight to Liverpool. Over 160 million people watched in May as Kalush Orchestra, a Ukrainian rap act, was crowned the winner in Turin, Italy.
Sixty-two years after the Beatles formed, Liverpool remains closely tied to the enormously influential rock band. The band is central to the city’s tourism, with Beatles-themed museums, tours and a statue along the waterfront.
Though Liverpool has produced fewer star international acts recently, the local music scene is small-scale and “healthy,” said Karl Whitney, the author of “Hit Factories: A Journey Through the Industrial Cities of British Pop.” There are “lots of great bands from Liverpool,” he said, “but the Beatles, obviously, sort of overshadow everything.”
The city plans collaborations with Ukrainian street artists, designers and musicians to bring the country’s culture to the city, the Liverpool Echo reported this week. Claire McColgan, the director of Culture Liverpool, told the newspaper that “this is their party, it just happens to be in our house,” referring to the Ukrainians.
“If we are chosen as host city there’s no question Eurovision will take over Liverpool in a way no single event has ever done before,” she said this week.