A year ago Ukraine’s rap-folk band, the Kalush Orchestra, put on a Eurovision performance that was as spirited as the fight that their compatriots are putting up on the battlefield. Ukraine deservedly won, and it was a victory that gave the whole country a lift. The sounds of cheering and celebration could be heard echoing round the cellars and shelters of Ukraine well after midnight.
In a peaceful world, this year’s contest would be taking place in Ukraine. Millions of people would be taking to the streets of Kyiv and lining the bars of cities like Dnipro, Kharkiv and Donetsk. But the barbaric war being waged by Russia has made that impossible.
The United Kingdom has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine throughout this conflict, and the great city of Liverpool is honoured to host this year’s contest on behalf of our friends and partners, and to celebrate all that Ukraine represents. Liverpool is a special city. The renowned thinker and psychologist Carl Jung – a man immortalised on Matthew Street – famously visited the city in a dream, and even without ever having been to Liverpool, he knew that this city was ‘a pool of life.’ The city of the Beatles, and one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution, Liverpool has it all. A hugely vibrant cultural, music and nightlife scene, incredible architecture and a huge passion for sport.
The Eurovision Song Contest represents one of the best examples of how music can unite us all - reminding us that while we may speak different languages and come from different places, we all share the same spirit and joy of this occasion. Across Ukraine, the United Kingdom and all the other participating nations, we know people across the world will be following the Eurovision Song Contest and joining in what will be an unforgettable experience.
It takes a village to organise an event on this scale, so we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved. The organisers have pulled out all the stops to make sure that Ukrainian culture is front-and-centre throughout the contest, while also showcasing the very best that Liverpool and the UK have to offer. We thank both the BBC and the Ukrainian broadcaster, UA:PBC, who have worked seamlessly together in what is an unprecedented situation; and we are very grateful to the team in Liverpool who have put on such an incredible programme.
Eurovision is just one part of our cultural collaboration. Ukraine has led the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture together with the British Council, and the British government has been proud to lead global support for Ukrainian culture, sports and arts since the invasion, protecting priceless works of art held in Ukrainian museums, and assisting the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine to share their music as they tour the UK this year. This collaboration will continue for long after the Eurovision winners are declared and the glitter settles on Saturday night.
So, get on your dancing shoes, warm up your vocal chords and enjoy the incredible show!
Welcome to the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 - and Slava Ukraini.