It’s a Eurovision tradition that the Host City throws a red carpet event for our participants, and though we face challenges posed by COVID-19, this year is no exception. Koos van Plateringen and Fenna Ramos are our reporters on the ground.
This year, the red carpet has transformed into a Turquoise Carpet thanks to our Official Presenting Partner Morrocanoil, the hair and body-care experts who are no strangers to glamorous events.
The challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic meant that health and safety protocols were monitored and enacted right up until the last minute, meaning that delegations from Poland, Iceland, Malta and Romania were unfortunately unable to join us for this event.
With health and safety at the top of the agenda, artists began to arrive once Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Mayor of Rotterdam, declared the Eurovision Song Contest officially open and commended organisers on the achievement of hosting a Contest under difficult circumstances.
The Roop walked up the carpet first, telling Fenna that dancing liberates you and improves your mental health. Can't argue with that!
Jendrik chatted to Koos about not feeling hate (naturally), and confirmed that his anthropomorphic hand is not a middle finger but a peace sign! Phew!
Fenna caught up with Slovenia's Ana who shared that she thought the Lord was doing his best for all of us at the moment - well, he's certainly stopped the torrential rain we've endured all afternoon at Rotterdam Cruise Terminal.
Sticking with the topic of divine interventions, France's Barbara wished angels upon those who want her song Voilà to win. Possibly the same angels that bought her that Christian Dior outfit.
Russia's Manizha rocked up wearing a fantastic headpiece singing Cher's 1998 global MEGABOP Believe.
Koos grabbed Måneskin in their delightful purple velvet blazers and asked them who their favourite act was... Finland's Blind Channel came the reply.
Montaigne sent a video message in which she told fans she was still stoked to be included in Eurovision (despite having to perform from Australia) and that she sends her love.
Blas Cantó's quiff is becoming more and more powerful by the day.
North Macedonia's Vasil has UPGRADED HIS CROWN! In Tel Aviv 2019, Vasil was a backing singer for Tamara Todevska and he wore a black leather crown on the red carpet... well, it's now a huge mirror crown! He tells Fenna that 'the mirror always reveals the truth, whether good or bad'.
The Netherland's Jeangu takes to the carpet with his twin brother, Xillan! He's wearing an exquisite outfit. The Dutch singer goes on to explain that 'Yu no man broko mi!' means: ‘You can’t break me!’ A sentence based on an old Surinamese saying: Mi na afu sensi, no wan man e broko mi (‘I am a half-cent, no one can break me for change').
Israel's Eden appears next and introduces her backing dancers. She explains how they are all totally hot but, unfortunately for Eden, all totally... not that way inclined. She promises to share their Instagram handles later.
United Kingdom's James Newman explains that the UK cares about the Eurovision Song Contest as much as any other nation and that he's here to prove they want to win it!
Tusse from Sweden arrives in a fantastic green jacket from H&M (someone cover RuPaul's ears) and shares the news that Loreen gave them some tips for the Contest: 'focus on the important things like the message and performance... and have fun with it!'
Belgium's Hooverphonic explain to Koos that they are huge Eurovision fans and have been since they were children. Koos then asks the band if they've ever been on a 'turquoise carpet' before - and of course they haven't.
Lesley Roy's outfit is a nod to Alicia Silverstone's iconic yellow tartan plaid from Clueless (1998). The Irish participant explains she wanted to create a world within a world for her Semi-Final performance, and that she can't wait to share her vision.
Azerbaijan's Efendi shares a message of female empowerment and explains that she's more nervous being interviewed on the Turquoise Carpet than she is about the prospect of performing on stage.
Elena from Cyprus says that El Diablo is in her heart.
Another Fallen Angel is TIX, who states he's 'being flashy for fun' - and he certainly is, wearing all gold chains, trousers and trainers, topped by a fluffy white jacket.
Croatia's Albina teases a special Tick-Tock TikTok challenge should she qualify on Tuesday night.
Go_A explain their outfits are made of recyclable plastic and are a continuation of the music video. The band reveal they're invoking the spirit of the Ukrainian forests this evening.
Koos tells Estonia's Uku that this week he was elected the 'hottest man of Eurovision 2021'. Uku thanks the voters. We don't remember this election, but assume that it was both free and fair.
San Marino's Senhit is wearing the most incredible puffy dress covered in flamingos. No sign of Flo Rida... or Don Jiggy. The plot thickens.
Benny Cristo from the Czech Republic is looking sharp in a peacock blue suit, and shares that his song omaga was born out of love, in the kitchen, where the melody came to him.
Greece's Stefania explains that's she ready and excited to perform, and that she can't wait to show off the very cool staging.
Vincent from Austria tells Fenna that he's not yet met his Amen-twin Ana Soklič but he's looking forward to it!
Georgia's Tornike sings a little snatch of James Brown's I Got You (I Feel Good) and shares his excitement to be performing in the second Semi-Final.
Moldova's Natalia Gordienko clears up any confusion about her song, SUGAR: 'It's not about the sugar you put in your coffee, it's about love, sex, positive vibes, all of which we've missed during the COVID year.' Well there we are.
The Black Mamba are suited and booted, and tell Koos that their song started in the Netherlands (it's a tale about an old lady in Amsterdam who'd had a hard life) so it feels karmic that they should be in Rotterdam for Eurovision.
Serbia's Hurricane, despite their name, tell Fenna that the only thing they dislike about Rotterdam is the wet and windy weather.
Blind Channel are wearing all black... except for their middle fingers which are painted red.
Anxhela from Albania is doing a great job of balancing a very jaunty hat and answering questions about her song Karma.
Gjon's Tears, wearing a lovely white jacket, says that whether you finish in first place or last place, the important thing is that you always have the opportunity to create more music.
Latvia's Samanta explains that everybody should put a crown on their head because everyone is equal and should accept themselves. Vasil gets it.
Victoria from Bulgaria shares the story behind the photo she's taking on stage with her: it's of her father who cannot join her in the Rotterdam Ahoy.
Finally, we have Denmark, looking fine in... *puts on Morticia Addams voice* ...pastels?
The Eurovision Song Contest is ON!
Join us all this week for two Semi-Finals, one massive Grand Final, and so much more in between.