In the beating heart of Tel Aviv, Habima Square turned orange as the official Opening Ceremony of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest took place on Sunday 12 May. The lavish affair saw hopefuls from 41 participating countries along with their delegations welcomed to Israel, where in just 5 days, a new Eurovision Song Contest winner will be crowned.
As has become an annual tradition, the official Opening Ceremony of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest began with the 41 competing delegations arriving on the Orange Carpet lined with fans and the world's media. They welcomed all delegations with cheers and adoration as the artists posed for photos, met with journalists and gave interviews as they made their way along the carpet.
Of course, the hosts of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest were also dressed up for the first of several big occasions coming up this week. Erez Tal, Assi Azar, Lucy Ayoub and Bar Refaeli will be presenting the Semi-Finals and Grand Final.
Israel's TV presenters Shani Nachshon and Leon Rosenberg hosted interviews close to the fans whilst Nadav Abukasis was out on the Orange Carpet to get reactions from the singers and bands on their way to the Opening Ceremony. The interviews were broadcast around the world on the YouTube live stream as well as on big screens at the event so the onlooking crowd could watch.
Alongside the 41 competing delegations, there were some other important special guests at the event. This included none other than the winner of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, Netta Barzilai, whose victory brought the Eurovision Song Contest to Tel Aviv.
Also on the Orange Carpet was Eleni Foureira, who took second place last year in Lisbon and has had huge success with her Eurovision entry Fuego. Eleni will perform in this year's Grand Final interval act along with Verka Serduchka, another special guest at last night's glamorous event.
If you missed the Orange Carpet, you can watch it via the YouTube video below.
Dana International at the Opening Ceremony
At the end of the Orange Carpet, all delegations entered the Charles Bronfman Auditorium where the champagne popped, cocktails were shaken and was food served in the atrium overlooking Habima Square.
Then the doors to the auditorium opened and guests took their seats for the official opening ceremony hosted by Noa Tishby. Special performances included Dana International performing her 1998 Eurovision winning song Diva with a dance troop, a medley of winning Eurovision Song Contest songs and the mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, performing his oven version of Netta's Toy!
You can watch the whole opening ceremony in the video below from 3:29:30.
The show opened with a look at how this year's Eurovision artists were welcomed to Israel on arrival at Ben Gurion Airport. Gil Omer from host broadcaster Kan welcomed everyone to Eurovision before Executive Producer Zivit Davidovich thanked the whole production team for their work, and their loving families for taking up so much of their time with Eurovision.
Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, Jon Ola Sand, then took the stage to talk about the importance of public broadcasters and how their unity through events like the Eurovision Song Contest are so important to the world.
Dana International then performed Diva to an adoring crowd before one of the lines of the night when she excused herself for having to put on her spectacles, saying "Forgive me for using glasses, I am 50 years old and I have to read a special announcement". She then read out the names of all participating countries as their singers joined her on stage to sing Hava Nagila, a traditional Israeli celebratory song at the end of the show.