For the first time, Norway had the honour of hosting the 31st Eurovision Song Contest. Just like in Munich three years earlier, 20 countries participated in the contest. The Netherlands and Yugoslavia returned, Italy and Greece withdrew from the from the contest and Iceland made its debut. Iceland had wanted to participate for some years but the small Atlantic island nation had to wait until a satellite connection to Iceland could be established. The 1986 Eurovision Song Contest also marked a historic landmark as the 500th Eurovision song was performed in Bergen - Luxembourg's entry L'Amour De Ma Vie by Canadian-born Sherisse Laurence.
The presenter of the 1986 Eurovision Song Contest, Åse Kleveland, had already participated as a singer for her home country in 1966 where she was placed 3rd. She had also presented the Norwegian national final in 1980.
The winner of the song contest was the 13-year-old Sandra Kim, who sang J'Aime La Vie. She actually had told the producers of the show that she was 15 year old. It was the first win for Belgium, and it meant that all countries that had participated in the very first contest in 1956 had now won at least once.