As the dust settles and the last of the confetti is swept up after Saturday night’s Eurovision Song Contest final, attention is already turning to next year’s competition, particularly given who ended up winning the show.
It was a mammoth victory for Ukraine over the weekend, with Kalush Orchestra sweeping up an incredible 631 points at the end of the night.
This was thanks in no small part to viewers showing their support in the phone votes, with every country involved giving Ukraine points in the televote.
With Stefania officially this year’s winning song, and the conflict in Ukraine still ongoing, talk has now begun about exactly how Eurovision will take shape in 2023. Here’s what we know so far…
First of all, here’s some quick history about Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest
As far as Eurovision goes, Ukraine is actually a bit of a newcomer, only debuting in the competition in 2003, and making a subsequent 17 appearances (they were absent in 2015 and 2019, both for reasons relating to the country’s ongoing conflict with Russia).
In that time, they’ve racked up three wins. During their sophomore Eurovision in 2004, Ruslana’s Wild Dances secured the victory, while Jamala’s poignant rendition of her song 1944 triumphed in 2016.
Jamala’s song is significant as its title references the year of the forced deportation of Crimean Tatar people during the reign of Joseph Stalin. The chorus of 1944 also features lyrics in Crimean.
Even in the years they’ve not won, Ukraine are known for consistently making a huge splash at Eurovision, with some of their more iconic entries including runners up Verka Serduchka’s Dancing Lasha Tumbai and Ani Lorak’s Shady Lady, as well as Go_A’s Shum and Svetlana Loboda’s Be My Valentine! (Anti‐Crisis Girl).
What have Eurovision organisers said about next year’s competition?
Following Ukraine’s victory on Saturday night, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) who help put Eurovision together every year issued a statement insisting that the country will be given first refusal on whether they want to host in 2023, as is standard for a winning entry.
“We congratulate Ukraine and Kalush Orchestra on their win and superb performance,” they said, noting that they would soon “begin planning for 2023 with winning broadcaster UA:PBC”.
While they acknowledged the “unique challenges involved in hosting next year’s competition”, they said they would be as in any other year, “discussing all the requirements and responsibilities involved in hosting the competition with UA:PBC, and all other stakeholders, to ensure we have the most suitable setup for the 67th Eurovision Song Contest”.
The EBU had no further comment when contacted by HuffPost UK, but said they would update fans on the situation “in due time”.
President Zelenskyy has also insisted he wants to see the competition return to Ukraine in 2023
After two previous Eurovision finals were held in Kyiv, Zelenskyy has said he wants Ukraine to host the show next year.
“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he said (via Deadline). “We will do our best to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in Ukrainian Mariupol. Free, peaceful, rebuilt! I am sure our victorious chord in the battle with the enemy is not far off.”
Mariupol is almost entirely in Russian hands aside from a stalwart group of a few hundred Ukrainian fighters who continue to hold out in a steel factory.
Zelensky’s optimistic statement came as Russian troops are retreating from Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, after bombarding it for weeks, and Moscow’s forces continue to engage in a grinding battle for the country’s eastern industrial heartland.
Zelenskyy’s comments have also been echoed by Kalush Orchestra
Frontman Oleg Psyuk said at a Eurovision press conference: “If the president said it’s going to happen, then it’s going to happen. We will host Eurovision in a newly rebuilt and happy Ukraine. He congratulated us and he is happy we won.”
The group was given special permission to leave the country to compete in Eurovision in Italy, although one of its members, Vlad Kurochka, made the decision to stay behind in Ukraine.
Kalush Orchestra will return to Ukraine on Monday, where Oleg will go back to running a volunteering organisation.
“It is chaos,” he said of the current situation. “It’s like a sick lottery with all those missiles.
“I am going back to Ukraine, I run the volunteering organisation, we help people with accommodation, transportation, medication, whatever is needed so I am just going to keep doing that.”
Oleg added: “We haven’t really celebrated yet. We will probably have a big celebration after the war because victory is great, winning Eurovision is fantastic but there is just so much stuff going on.
“People are getting killed in the war or they fight in the war or lose their jobs in Ukraine, it is not really the best backdrop for celebrations.”
If Ukraine can’t host in 2023, what happens then?
There are actually a few different options.
Traditionally, when a winning country has been unable to host the following year, it’s been the runner up who has stepped in. This could potentially mean Eurovision returning to UK soil for the first time since 1998, albeit under far less jubilant circumstances.
In 1960 and 1974, the competition was held in the runner-up country rather than the winner – and in both of those cases, this meant the UK played host to the contest. In fact, the UK has more second-place finishes than any country in Eurovision history, a record that has now been extended by Sam Ryder.
Other broadcasters have already spoken out about hosting, too
Since Ukraine’s win, the national broadcasters for Spain and Sweden – both of whom placed within the top 5 in 2022 – have said they would be willing to host the competition (Sweden pointed out that they last held Eurovision in 2016, and so are well-versed in what it takes to host the contest in the modern era).
Italy has also said they’d be happy for the contest to be held in Turin for the second year in a row, though quite how that would go down with fans remains to be seen…