Whether you love it or hate it, it’s hard to deny the effect that Eurovision has on the participating countries. Usually held in the country which won the preceding year’s competition, the contest is a chance to promote the host city to an international audience.
Whether it’s Eurovision fandom on social media, slogans promoting inclusion and acceptance, or parties where hairless faces are painted with Conchita Wurst beards, Eurovision bridges the divide between nations and people.
But what are the benefits to those cities that take on the huge task of hosting the event?
Since the competition began in 1956, all kinds of locations and spaces across Europe and beyond have been used as host venues. Here’s an interactive story map with photos of the cities that hosted the event from 2011 to 2021.
Start exploring by clicking the image below.
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Düsseldorf, Germany – 2011
Venue: Düsseldorf Arena
Cast your mind back a decade or so, to 2011, when Germany hosted Eurovision for the third time.
The Esprit Arena in Düsseldorf was the host venue for the 56th Eurovision Song Contest. The city on the banks of the Rhine was chosen because of its transport links and ability to house a large number of visitors in the city and the surrounding area.
The party-loving crowd were impressed by the city’s buzzing atmosphere and nightlife. The Düsseldorfer Altstadt is known as ‘the longest bar in the world’, as the Old Town has more than 300 bars and clubs in just half a square kilometre.
Düsseldorf is sometimes overlooked by tourists, but once you’ve experienced it, you’re keen to come back. It has a great party vibe and Eurovision only helped to seal this reputation.
Since hosting Eurovision, international music legends like Paul McCartney, Beyonce and AC/DC have performed at the Düsseldorf Arena. The venue has now changed its name to Merkur Spielarena.
The number of tourists visiting Germany continues to increase year on year.
Baku, Azerbaijan – 2012
Venue: Crystal Hall, Baku
Azerbaijan was the furthest east that the contest had ever been held. The Eurovision 2012 slogan was ‘Light Your Fire’, very apt given that its host country is known as the Land of Fire because of incredible sights like the Yanardag burning mountain.
Azerbaijan spent 100 million euros to fund their Eurovision venue. As well as investing in a large scale events space, the country simplified its visa requirements to lure international guests.
Government statistics show that the number of tourists visiting the country climbed when Baku hosted the 2012 competition. Azerbaijan received twice as many international visitors that year compared to before participating in Eurovision.
Since hosting the Contest, tourism has continued to thrive. The government introduced an Electronic Visa system in 2017 to simplify things further for visitors. This growing tourist destination has plenty to wow travellers with its majestic mud volcanoes and its mix of old and new. Keen to visit? Here you can find out about more things to visit in Azerbaijan.
Malmö, Sweden – 2013
Venue: Malmö Arena
31,000 people visited Malmö in the weeks around the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2013. A whopping 48,100 tickets were sold for all the events at Malmö Arena.
Reports show that Eurovision generated tourism revenues of 160 million kronor ($23.5 million), excluding tickets bought for the actual event. Not to mention the indirect advertising value for the region from the Contest, which is estimated to be billions.
Eurovision attendees were impressed by how welcoming Malmö was, and the majority said they’d be likely to come back to the city as tourists. 1 year later, the country’s tourist director identified a peak in interest in Malmö as a destination for conferences and large events.
Today Malmö continues to impress. The Renaissance structure Malmöhus Castle, the cobblestone square of Lilla Torg, and the city’s many parks enchant tourists from all over the world.
Copenhagen, Denmark – 2014
Venue: B&W Hallerne
For the 2014 Eurovision, host country Denmark transformed the ‘B&W hallerne’, an old shipyard on Refshaleøen in Copenhagen, into an arena fit for one of the world’s most-watched (non-sporting) events. This, as you can probably imagine, was an extremely expensive endeavour that set them back millions of euros.
However, the city generated over €15m from the Contest. Over 39,000 visitors flocked to Copenhagen, with tourists spending around €16.5 million and more than 80% of attendees planning to return to the city.
And indeed, tourism in Copenhagen has boomed since, with Lonely Planet crowning it the number 1 city to visit in 2019.
Tourists are drawn to the home of hygge and some of the ‘world’s most happy people’. In fact, there are some concerns from locals that Copenhagen now has too many tourists visiting at certain times of the year.
Vienna, Austria – 2015
Venue: Wiener Stadthalle
The Wiener Stadthalle arena hosted the 60th Eurovision Song contest in its main hall. There had been a lot of interest in hosting the Contest in Austria. Innsbruck and Graz were also shortlisted, but Vienna came out champion.
However, when it came to the actual competition, Austria’s performance left a lot to be desired. It became the first host country ever to score zero points!
In spite of this, Vienna sparkled as a host city. Its parks were covered in love hearts and cardboard cutouts of performers. Standard pedestrian lights were transformed into images of gay, lesbian, and straight couples to represent the diversity of the city.
Today, Vienna continues to be a buzzing LGBTQ destination; tourists travel from far and wide to experience its lively and diverse scene.
Stockholm, Sweden – 2016
Venue: Globe Arena, Stockholm
2016 marked the third time that Stockholm hosted Eurovision and the second time that it was held in the city’s Globe Arena.
It was a memorable year with Jamala from Ukraine winning the contest with the song ‘1944’ about the deportation of Crimean Tatars under Stalin. It was also a successful year for Stockholm, with the Contest generating a turnover of 27.5 million euros. Visitors splashed their cash during their stay in the city, spending on average 720 euros.
And let’s not forget about one of the most successful bands of all time who won the Eurovision song contest for Sweden. Yes, I’m talking about ABBA!
Since the ABBA museum in Stockholm opened in 2013, it has had about a quarter of a million visitors, 50% from other countries. Mamma mia! Many tourists continue to visit Sweden today because of ABBA and Eurovision.
Kyiv, Ukraine- 2017
Venue: The International Exhibition Centre
The 2017 Eurovision Song Contest took place at Kyiv’s International Exhibition Centre. ‘Celebrate Diversity’ was the key message of this edition, and the event logo was based around a traditional Ukrainian bead necklace known as Namysto.
The country set a new tourism record, welcoming more than 850,000 international tourists in the first 6 months of 2018. This also marked a shift in where foreign visitors came from.
In 2013, more than 50% of tourists visiting Kyiv came from former Soviet Union countries. Today, the top 5 visitor countries are Belarus, Israel, the United States, Germany and Turkey. There has also been an increase in visitors from other European countries.
Kyiv continues to fascinate visitors with its rich culture, history and traditions. The gold-domed cathedrals impress tourists with their beauty. And the 2019 HBO series about the 1986 Chernobyl disaster has increased the number of visitors to this controversial tourist site.
Lisbon, Portugal – 2018
Venue: Lisbon Arena
2018 was the first time that Eurovision was hosted on Portuguese soil. The show was broadcast from the Altice Arena, the country’s largest, boasting a 20,000 capacity. The building was originally built for the EXPO ’98 and is located at the end of Parque das Nações, right on the city’s seashore.
According to a report published by eDreams, Lisbon saw a 37% increase in tourists in 2018 compared to the same time the previous year. Flight reservation data between 7 and 13 May 2018 revealed that 29% of these visitors were French, followed by Germans (18%) and Spaniards (10%).
Since Eurovision, tourism in Lisbon has continued to flourish. Today it is one of Europe’s most popular city destinations. As well as the arena, Parque das Nações also has an aquarium, a casino and other tourist attractions.
Tel Aviv, Israel – 2019
Venue: Expo Tel Aviv – International Convention Centre.
In 2019 it was Tel Aviv’s turn to host the Eurovision Song Contest. It was the largest event ever held in the city.
The government invested heavily in tourism, not only the venue itself but also the airport, hotels and other areas that are vital to host large numbers of visitors.
An all-time high of 4.9 million visitors entered the country in 2019. 10 airlines added flights to Israel and Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport welcomed 24 million international passengers in 2019; 1.6 million more than the previous year.
Tel Aviv did not disappoint fans looking for a good time. It is famed for having some of the best nightlife in the world and nicknamed ‘the city that never sleeps’. From beach bars to cool clubs, you can bike your way between nocturnal haunts in this pumping city. It also hosts the largest Gay Pride event in the region.
Rotterdam, the Netherlands – May 2021
Venue: Ahoy, Rotterdam, Netherlands
For obvious reasons, Eurovision was not able to go ahead in 2020. It was the first time in 64 years that it had to be cancelled!
So what about 2021, how will Eurovision look this year? One thing is for sure, it will be very different from those that have gone before.
The city’s leaders hope that local entrepreneurs will get an economic boost from bringing the world’s most famous competition to Rotterdam. A proposal to give free tickets to healthcare workers has been accepted too.
The Eurovision Legacy
The legacy of Eurovision across Europe and beyond is strong! Host cities tend to see a boost in tourism and their local economy for many years to come.
Have you been to any of these Eurovision cities or are you planning to visit one day? Soon, if you’re a Brit, American, or Canadian wanting to visit Austria, Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, or any of the 26 countries that make up the Schengen Zone, you’ll need to register for the ETIAS travel pass. This will also apply to several other nationalities.