Duncan Laurence wins the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest for the Netherlands.
Duncan Laurence lifting his trophy at the Grand Final in Tel Aviv last year Photo: Andres Putting

Looking back: the Grand Final

Today, 16 May, is THE day. The Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 should have taken place tonight in Rotterdam. While we wait excitedly for 'Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light', we invite you to take a trip down memory lane to remember what this day has looked like in other years.

The Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest… what a feeling! The culmination of all the hard work from the many parties involved comes to an end, in the most spectacular, state-of-the-art television show, and it is enjoyed live by millions of people. The excitement, the tension and the hope are all feelings that radiate from the arena into the television sets around the world. 26 acts compete for the winner's trophy and the right to host the Eurovision Song Contest the following year.

The last rehearsals

From 1956 to 2003, the Eurovision Song Contest was a 1-show event, but since 2004 and the introduction of the Semi-Finals, there has been a Grand Final to look forward to. Throughout the event weeks, there is a busy schedule of rehearsals, and 3 specific Grand Final Dress Rehearsals leading up to the Grand Final. This includes the Jury Final show, which takes place the evening before, and the Family Final, held in the afternoon of the Grand Final day.

All these run-throughs give the technicians, presenters, commentators and everyone else involved the chance to rehearse a perfect show. But before the artists take the stage for the Jury Final, everything already has to be perfect, as 50% of the voting outcome depends on their performance in this show. After that, they have one more chance to practice their performances on the Eurovision Song Contest stage in the very last rehearsal: the Family Final.

Calm before the storm

In the hours between the final 2 shows, the Family Final and the Grand Final, it is quiet inside the venue. The artists either take the opportunity to relax backstage or rehearse in their dressing room one last time before dressing up and heading for the last visit to the makeup and hairdressing rooms.

In the stage area, any remaining final touches from the technical side are taken care of, such as resetting lightning and other effects, and cleaning up confetti and glitter from the previous rehearsal. The arena is then ready to welcome the thousands of fans that have already started to queue outside. The fans have also dressed up for the occasion; there is an electric atmosphere around the venue as they enter.

Once the audience is prepped and the lights go down, the Eurovision anthem, Te Deum, starts to play. Millions of viewers are tuning in across the Globe at that moment for their annual dose of musical entertainment and extravaganza: the Eurovision Song Contest is about to begin! From where they sit, the parties at home look just as fun and glamorous as the one in the arena:

The Flag Parade

Although there were some earlier years when artists were introduced at the beginning of the show, it is only since 2013, when the contest took place in Malmö, that the show began by kicking off with the official Flag Parade that welcomes each country's delegate.

All finalists are presented one by one, making a spectacular entrance on stage. Here, the audience and viewers at home get a first glimpse at their beloved stars, who are always welcomed with an enthusiastic roar from the audience attending live. It's magical!

The opening and interval acts

They’re not only a time to get excited, make fashion commentary or check #Eurovision on Twitter, the opening and interval acts are also an opportunity for the Host Broadcaster to show their identity, by representing the Contest theme or showing something well-known to their own country, to the world. Some years, it has also been a performance by a global superstar. Anything is possible!

Over the years, we’ve had some memorable moments in those parts of the show. One of the most notable was in 1994 when Ireland's broadcaster RTÉ brought Riverdance to the stage. It became a global phenomenon from that moment on.

In 2010, when the contest was held in Oslo, Host Broadcaster NRK had a very special surprise in store as well. Madcon performed Glow, and they got all parts of Europe up on their feet for what became a very popular flashmob.

From the Vienna Boys’ Choir in 1967 to the Switch Song by Eurovision legends in 2019, and the much-loved Love Love Peace Peace by Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw in 2016, opening and interval acts have changed a lot over the years. Last year, Madonna performed on the Eurovision stage, adding her name to a list of celebrities that include Céline Dion, making her debut in English in 1989, Boyzone in 1997, Aqua in 2001, t.A.T.u in 2009 and Justin Timberlake in 2016.

The Green Room

The most exciting part of the Eurovision Song Contest takes place in the Green Room. It is there that we learn who will be the winner and which country will get the opportunity to host the following year. The images from the Green Room while the drama unfolds is thrilling, and sometimes emotional, as the participating teams eagerly await their votes.

It's common in recent Contests to have the Green Room in a central place in the arena, where the artists can be seen enjoying the atmosphere from the inside during the Grand Final. In this way, the Green Room simultaneously function as a central focal point for the audience and viewers. The audience, the viewers and the artists enjoy the experience of being close to the action. That atmosphere radiates out, helping viewers at home feel the tangible excitement from the arena.

Once the points are announced, the winning artist is invited back to the stage for one last celebratory performance of their entry, before they are escorted to meet the press after the show. And that is a wrap on that edition of the world's biggest music competition.

Since there will be no competition in 2020, and thus no winner, we aren't sure yet who will host the Eurovision Song Contest 2021...or are we? Stay tuned, we may find out soon!

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