Ruslana opening the Grand Final in 2005
Ruslana opening the Grand Final in 2005 Photo: PentruEurovision

#EurovisionAgain travels back to Ukraine 2005

It's time for another #Eurovisionagain! This week, we're watching the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2005. After Ruslana won in 2004 in Istanbul with the song 'Wild Dances', attention turned to Ukraine and their preparation in the Contest one year later. The event was a significant opportunity for Ukraine since it provided the country with the chance to stage a major international event for the first time since it's independence. Let's dig into the history of this edition!

Hosting the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv took on great significance following the political protests which took place across Ukraine at the end of 2004, known internationally as the Orange Revolution.

The first day of the Orange Revolution, 22 November 2004Irpen

Revolutionary delays

The political turmoil caused by the Orange Revolution meant that preparations for the 2005 Contest were seriously hindered. When the EBU’s then-Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, Svante Stockselius, visited Kyiv for a routine meeting in February 2005, he found that the preparations were seriously behind schedule. At this stage, a Eurovision Song Contest held in Ukraine was looking less likely.

Stockselius warned the production team at NTU that he would have no option other than to move the event to another country unless significant progress was made. Stockselius was then taken to a meeting with President Viktor Yushchenko, where each member of the government was given specific responsibilities for the organisation of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Both President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko attend the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005Boing-boing

Against the odds

NTU was given a tight deadline of 2 weeks to fulfil a list of EBU requirements. When the EBU returned to Kyiv, they found that all the conditions had been met, although NTU still faced a significant challenge preparing the city for such a large-scale international event against the backdrop of simmering media discourses of chaos. In an interview with the BBC, the presenter of the 2005 Contest, Pavlo Shylko, admitted that organizing the event was a challenge:

We understand what we have to do, otherwise the prestige of the country which is starting to be built in Europe might go down…That’s why we’re working every day, 24 hours a day. Before the Olympic Games in Athens people said that nothing was ready. When I went there everything was ready and everything went well.

Despite the delays to the organisation of the Contest, the Eurovision Song Contest 2005 was a successful one for NTU. In May 2005, the Eurovision Song Contest was the largest international event ever staged in Ukraine. When Ukraine last hosted the Contest, there was no formal city bid process, which was first introduced in 2011, and NTU had little option than to choose Kyiv to host the 2005 competition. These days things are different: Ukraine’s infrastructure is vastly improved, and undoubtedly, Euro 2012 contributed to that.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

That year, we saw many previous participants return to the stage. Helena Paparizou, who represented Greece as part of the group Antique, returned to the Contest with the song My Number One. Chiara, who finished third for Malta in 1998, also returned, as did Constantinos Christoforou who represented Cyprus in 1996 and in 2002 as part of the group One. Annabel Conde, who represented Spain in 1995 was a backing singer for Andorra and Selma who finished second for Iceland in 1999, failed to qualify from the Semi-Final with her song If I Had Your Love.

No small milestone, the 2005 event marked the 50th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest. A gala celebrating this milestone was later held in 2005 in Copenhagen. The celebration, known as Congratulations, saw ABBA's Waterloo crowned the most popular winner of all time.

Who is ready for another edition of #EurovisionAgain? We most certainly are! Check out the live stream below which starts exactly at 21:00 CEST:

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