This year there was a big show to kick-off the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest season in the Buta Palace in Baku. The hosts Leyla Alieva and Nazim Huseynov introduced the Mayors of Baku and Düsseldorf, last year's host city for the traditional Key Exchange ceremony.
To assure maximum suspense, the 37 countries represented in the Semi-Finals were drawn from six pots, based on voting patterns from the past years. Remember that, viewers can only vote for the other countries that take part in that respective Semi-Final.
It was also decided if a country participates in the first or second half of the respective Semi-Final, so that delegations know well in advance on which day they are expected in Baku for their first stage rehearsal.
After Jon Ola Sand and Thomas Niedermayer were invited on-stage, the draw took place and this is how the countries will perform in each Semi-Final (and in which half):
First Semi-Final, Tuesday 22nd of May (18 countries):
Second Semi-Final, Thursday 24th of May (19 countries):
Six countries have already qualified for the Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, being United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Host Country Azerbaijan. As a total of 26 countries will take part in the Final on the 26th of May, then 10 from each Semi-Final will qualify for it. They are obliged to broadcast and vote in (as drawn):
German Television NDR asked the EBU to allocate them to broadcast and vote in the second Semi-Final for scheduling reasons, and the request was granted.
To decide the starting order of the songs in each Semi-Final and the Final, there will be another draw to be conducted at the Heads of Delegation meeting in March.
The show went on after the draw with the orchestra playing classical music, some impressive dancing and live performances from Eurovision stars Ruslana, Aysel, Alexander Rybak, Safura, Lena, and Ell/Nikki!!
You can check out our gallery with pictures from the show: