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ESC Insight

Listen to The Eurovision 2017 Preview From Europe’s Heartbeat

Listen to The Eurovision 2017 Preview From Europe’s Heartbeat

All The Eurovision 2017 Tracks… And A Little Bit More!

Hosted by Ewan Spence in partnership with ESC Insight and Radio Six International, ‘Europe’s Heartbeat’ is a weekly programme of great new music, lost classics, and forgotten hits from across the European continent.

During March and April, the show has been previewing the tracks from this year’s Song Contest for an audience that doesn’t follow the Contest as intensely as the team at ESC Insight. A few National Final favourites sneaked into the running orders as well to add a bit more flavour.

All of the shows are now posted on Europe’s Heartbeat’s Mixcloud channel for on-demand listening, so as many of us prepare to travel to Kyiv (and others wait for the in-depth reporting), sit back for a weekend’s worth of preview shows.

Eurovision On Europe’s Heartbeat

Episode 1 features music from Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, The Netherlands, Serbia, and Ukraine.

Episode 2 features music from Albania, Denmark, Greece, Malta, Slovenia, and Sweden.

Episode 3 features music from Cyprus, Finland, Georgia, Lithuania, and Spain.

Episode 4 features music from Austria, Belarus, Estonia, France, Latvia, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia.

Episode 5 features music from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Switzerland and San Marino (…and, er, Russia).

Episode 6 features music from Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.

Listen To Eurovision On The Radio Throughout May

As well as the podcast coverage here on ESC Insight, we’ll be producing two daily shows for radio syndication.

‘Today At Eurovision‘ is a half hour panel discussion show, and will air at 1830 GMT Monday to Saturday from May 1.

Eurovision News‘ is a two-minute bulletin to keep everyone up to date with the major stories from Kyiv, and airs at 2000 GMT Monday to Saturday from May 1, with a repeat airing at 0800 GMT the following day.

And Don’t Forget Our Live Grand Final Pre-Show

Don’t say we’re not trying anything new. ESC Insight and Radio Six will be producing a live radio broadcast ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final on Saturday 13 May. Join us in the hour before ‘Te Dem’ rings out across Europe and the world as we preview the Contest, bring you the latest news, welcome some start guests, and get you in the mood for Europe’s favourite TV show.

The Grand Final starts at 1900 GMT, so we’ll be on air from 1800 GMT. You can listen live here on ESC Insight, at Radio Six International, and we might even see if we can rig up a livestream on Facebook…

Categories: ESC Insight


Eurovision 2017 By The Numbers

Eurovision 2017 By The Numbers

Every year, the Eurovision Song Contest serves up mor treasure trove of musical delights, but it’s also a feast for trivia buffs, as well. Like clockwork, I’ve taken my annual trawl through this year’s cavalcade of Eurovision acts to crunch some numbers. How did these artists get to the international stage? What’s the gender split? How many are singing in their native languages? How many are familiar faces, and how many are newcomers to our fabulous musical family? This year is no exception.

It’s my pleasure to serve up this year’s crop of easily consumable statistics, perfect for use at your Viewing Parties, Pub Quizzes, or simply to delight and amuse your friends. No editorialising, no predictions, just the facts!

The Artists

Who’ll be performing (42 nations, equalling last year’s total):

  • Solo Female (17, 18 including Russia): Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, FYR Macedonia, Malta, Poland, Russia*, Serbia, United Kingdom
  • Solo Male (14): Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden
  • Duets (6): Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Romania, San Marino
  • Groups and Collaborations (6): Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Ukraine

Artists under the age of 20:

  • Australia: Isaiah Firebrace (17)
  • Belgium: Blanche (17)
  • Bulgaria: Kristian Kostov (17)
  • Romania: Ilinca (18)

Artists over the age of 40: 

  • Iceland: Svala (40)
  • San Marino: Valentina Monetta (42)

Who wasn’t born in the country they’ll be representing?

  • Albania: Lindita Halimi was born the town of Vitina, in what is now Kosovo.
  • Bulgaria: Kristian Kostov was born in Moscow to Bulgarian and Kazakh parents.
  • Denmark: Anja Nissen, who is of Danish descent, was born in Winmalee, New South Wales, Australia.
  • San Marino: Jimmie Wilson hails from Detroit, Michigan, in the United States.
  • Switzerland: Although Timebelle was formed in the city of Bern, Switzerland, members Miruna Manescu and Emanuel Daniel Andriescu are Romanian-born, and Samuel Forster was born in Stuttgart, Germany.

The Selections

How they were chosen:

  • National Final (24): Albania, Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy**, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
    (** – The winner of Italy’s San Remo Festival was given first right of refusal for the ticket to Eurovision. This year, the winner accepted the invitation.)
  • Partial National Final:
    • Public artist selection, internal song selection (2): Armenia, Israel
    • Internal artist selection, public song selection (1): Greece
  • Internal Selection (15, 16 including Russia): Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Ireland, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Russia*, San Marino, Serbia

The Songs

Songs changed/significantly modified from original winner/announcement/release

  • Albania: As per usual, the Albanian delegation decided to translate their song into English. “Botë” was adapted into “World”.
    France: A few lines in English were added to the originally all-French “Requiem” and the song underwent a general re-arrangement
    Slovenia: “On My Way” underwent a re-arrangement.
    Sweden: A few of the original lyrics in “I Can’t Go On” were modified in order to remove a bit of salty language.
    United Kingdom: Whilst the vocal has remained virtually the same, the musical arrangement has changed significantly from the simple piano and cello arrangement performed at the National Final.

What language will the song be performed in?

  • English (35, 36 including Russia):
    Albania, Armenia, Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, FYR Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia*, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
  • Bilingual (3):
    Croatia (English/Italian), France (French/English), Spain (Spanish/English)
  • No English (4):
    Belarus, Hungary, Italy, Portugal

How many songs this year were written (at least partially) by the performer?

  • Austria
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Georgia
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Moldova
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Ukraine

How many of this year’s entries include a songwriter who had previously taken part at Eurovision as a singer (including returning artists)?

  • Georgia – Co-written by Georgia’s 2012 entrant Anri Jokhadze
  • Moldova – Written by returning act SunStroke Project.
  • Slovenia – Written by returning artist Omar Naber.
  • Sweden – Co-written by Sweden’s 2013 entrant Robin Stjernberg
  • United Kingdom – Co-written by Denmark’s 2013 Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest.

How many songs this year include at least one Swedish songwriter on their roster?

  • Azerbaijan
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Ireland
  • Macedonia
  • Serbia
  • Sweden

The History

How many have previous involvement with Eurovision?

  • Estonia:
    Laura was a member of the group Suntribe, which represented Estonia in Kyiv back in 2005 with “Let’s Get Loud”, failing to qualify from the semifinal. Koit Toome is also a returnee, having performed “Mere lapsed” in Birmingham back in 1998. His entry tied for 12th place overall.
  • Georgia:
    Tako Gachechiladze was a member of Stephane & 3G, who were due to represent Georgia at Eurovision 2009 with “We Don’t Wanna Put In”. The song was disqualified prior to the Moscow-hosted competition due to its perceived political message.
  • Israel:
    Imri Ziv was a backing vocalist for Israel’s 2015 and 2016 entries, “Golden Boy” and “Made of Stars”.
  • Moldova:
    The group “Sunstroke Project” represented Moldova alongside vocalist Olia Tira in 2010 with the song “Run Away”, which came in 22nd place overall in Oslo. The song ended up going viral, as the song’s horn riff made Sergey “Epic Sax Guy” Stepanov an internet sensation.
  • San Marino:
    This being her fourth time at the contest, Valentina Monetta now ties the record for most participations at Eurovision as a lead artist (a record she shares with Fud LeClerc, Lys Assia, Elisabeth Andreassen, and the band Peter, Sue, and Marc).

    • 2012: “The Social Network Song (Oh Oh – Uh – Oh Oh)” – 14th place in the semifinal with 31 points.
    • 2013: “Crisalide (Vola)” – 11th place in the semifinal with 47 points
    • 2014: “Maybe” – 24th place in the final with 14 points.
  • Serbia:
    Tijana Bogićević was a backing vocalist and dancer for Serbia in 2011, supporting Nina’s “Čaroban”.
  • Slovenia:
    Omar Naber will return to Kyiv in 2017, as he performed “Stop” in 2005. The song failed to progress from the semifinal

How many have previous involvement with Junior Eurovision?

  • The Netherlands:
    O’G3NE performed “Adem in, aden hit” as “Lisa, Amy, and Shelley” at Junior Eurovision 2007. The trio came in 11th place with 39 points.

How many of this year’s entrants have family connections to past Eurovisions, or to their song?

  • Greece: “This Is Love” was co-written by Demy’s sister, Romy Papadea.
  • Iceland: Svala’s father, Björgvin Halldórsson, performed the song “Núna” at Eurovision 1995, coming in 15th place overall.
  • Italy: “Occidentali’s Karma” was co-written by Filippo Gabbani, brother of Francesco.
  • Malta: Claudia Faniello’s brother, Fabrizio, represented Malta twice at Eurovision. His song “Another Summer Night” placed 9th in 2001, and “I Do” placed 24th in 2006.
  • The Netherlands: “Lights and Shadows” was written by Rick Vol, the father of the members of O’G3NE.
  • Portugal: “Amar pelos dois” was written by Salvador’s sister, Luisa Sobral.

How many had previously performed in a National Final (not counting their 2017 victory)?

  • Albania: Lindita Halimi
    • 2010: “Nuk të dorëzohem” with Erti Hizmo – 12th
    • 2015: “S’te fal” – 3rd
  • Austria: Nathan Trent
    • 2017: Shortlisted to participate in Germany’s Unser Song 2017, but forced to withdraw due to his participation for Austria.
  • Azerbaijan: Diana Hajiyeva
    • 2011: 4th in her heat.
  • Belarus: NAVI
    • 2015: “Veberu sam” – did not pass from live audition stage
    • 2016: “Heta ziamla” – 4th
  • Croatia: Jacques Houdek
    • 2002: “Čarolija” – 13th
    • 2003: “Na krilima ljubavi” – 5th
    • 2004: “Nema razloga” – 4th
    • 2005: “Nepobjediva” – semifinalist
    • 2006: “Umrijeti s osmjehom” – 15th
    • 2011: “Lahor” – 2nd
  • Cyprus: Hovig
    • 2010: “Goodbye” – 3rd
    • 2015: “Stone in a River” – 4th
  • Denmark: Anja Nissen
    • 2016: “Never Alone” – 2nd
  • Estonia: Laura
    • 2005: “Moonwalk” – 2nd
    • 2005: “Let’s Get Loud” – 1st, as a member of Suntribe
    • 2007: “Sunflowers” – 3rd
    • 2016: “Supersonic” – 2nd
  • Estonia: Koit Toome
    • 1998: “Mere lapsed” – 1st
    • 2003: “Know What I Feel” – 2nd
    • 2007: “Veidi veel” – 10th
  • Georgia: Tako Gachechiladze
    • 2008: “I’m Free” – 4th, as a member of Stephane & 3G
    • 2008: “Me and My Funky” – 10th
    • 2009: “We Don’t Wanna Put In” – 1st, as a member of Stephane & 3G
  • Latvia: Triana Park
    • 2008: “Bye Bye” – 4th
    • 2009: “Call Me Any Time You Need A Problem” – Unranked Finalist
    • 2010: “Lullaby For My Dreammate (Diamond Lullaby)” – 6th
    • 2011: “Upside Down” – Qualified for Second Chance round, withdrew due to illness.
    • 2012: “Stars Are My Family” – 9th
  • Malta: Claudia Faniello
    • 2006: “High Alert” – 12th
    • 2007: “L-Imħabba Għamja” – 7th
    • 2008: “Caravaggio” – 2nd
    • 2008: “Sunrise” – 3rd
    • 2009: “Midas Touch” – Did not qualify from heats
    • 2009: “Blue Sonata” – 4th
    • 2010: “Samsara” – 8th
    • 2011: “Movie In My Mind” – 9th
    • 2012: “Pure” – 2nd
    • 2013: “When It’s Time” – 7th
  • Moldova: SunStroke Project
    • 2009: “No Crime” – 3rd place
    • 2010: “Run Away”, featuring Olia Tira – 1st
    • 2012: “Superman” – did not pass through to televised competition
    • 2015: “Lonely” – did not pass through to televised competition
    • 2015: “Day After Day”, featuring Michael Ra – 3rd
  • Poland: Kasia Moś
    • 2005: “I Wanna Know” – 10th
    • 2016: “Addiction” – 6th
  • Serbia: Tijana Bogićević
    • 2009: “Pazi Šta Radiš” – 17th in the Semifinal
  • Slovenia: Omar Naber
    • 2009: “I Still Carry On” – 2nd
    • 2011: “Bistvo skrito je očem” – Unranked Finalist
    • 2014: “I Won’t Give Up” – Unranked Finalist
    • 2016: “Take Me Far” (Swiss Preselection) – did not pass through to televised competition
  • Sweden: Robin Bengtsson
    • 2016: “Constellation Prize” – 5th
  • Switzerland: Timebelle
    • 2015: “Singing About Love” – 2nd

How many had taken part in non-Eurovision-affiliated TV talent shows?

  • Albania:
    • 2007: Albanian Idol/Ethet: Finalist
    • 2016: American Idol: Top 51
  • Armenia:
    • 2013: Golos (Russia): Eliminated in Battle Rounds
  • Australia:
    • 2016: The X-Factor Australia: Winner
  • Austria:
    • 2011: X Factor (Germany): Eliminated in Live Week 1 as a member of the group “Boyz II Hot”
  • Belgium:
    • 2016: The Voice Belgique: Eliminated in Live Week 2.
  • Bulgaria:
    • 2014: Golos Deti (The Voice Kids, Russia): Finalist
    • 2016: The X Factor (Bulgaria): 2nd place
  • Croatia: (judge)
    • 2011: X Factor (UK): Passed audition, unable to proceed due to visa issues.
    • 2015-present: Judge and mentor on The Voice – Najljepši glas Hrvatske
  • Cyprus:
    • 2009: The X Factor Greece: 7th place
  • Denmark:
    • 2008: Australia’s Got Talent: Semifinalist
    • 2014: The Voice Australia: Winner
  • Estonia: Koit Toome:
    • 2007: Tantsud tähtedega (Strictly Come Dancing): Winner
    • 2013:Su nägu kõlab tuttavalt (Your Face Sounds Familiar): Winner
  • Finland:
    • Leena Tironen: 2010: The X Factor (Finland): 3rd place
  • Georgia:
    • 2015: Erti Ertshi (Your Face Sounds Familiar): Winner
  • Greece: (judge)
    • 2015: Judge on The Music School
  • Hungary:
    • 2005: Megasztár: Eliminated in repechage rounds
  • Iceland: (judge)
    • 2015-present: Judge on The Voice Iceland
  • Israel:
    • 2012: The Voice Israel: Eliminated in the Battle Rounds
  • Macedonia: 2011:
    • Macedonian Idol: 5th place
  • Norway:
    • Aleksander Walmann: 2012: The Voice – Norges beste stemme: 2nd place
  • Poland:
    • 2012: Must Be The Music: 3rd
  • Portugal:
    • 2009: Ídolos: 7th
  • Romania:Alex Florea:
    • 2015: Vocea României: Eliminated in Semifinals
  • Romania: Ilinca:
    • 2012: Românii au talent: Qualified for live rounds
    • 2013: X Factor (Romania): Eliminated in Live Week One, as a member of the group Quattro.
    • 2014: Vocea României: Eliminated in Semifinals
  • Russia*:
    • 2013: Faktor A: Runner-up
  • San Marino:
    • Jimmie Wilson: 2012: Must Be The Music (Poland): Semifinals
  • Slovenia:
    • 2004: Bitka Talentov: Winner
  • Sweden:
    • 2008: Idol: 3rd
  • The Netherlands:
    • 2014: The Voice of Holland: Winners
  • United Kingdom:
    • 2009: The X Factor: Eliminated in Live Show 5

How many of this year’s artists have released at least one full-length studio album?

  • Australia: Isaiah (2016)
  • Belarus: Soncam sahretyja (2014), Illuminatsiya (2017)
  • Croatia: Čarolija (2004), Kad si sretan (2005), Živim za to (2006), Idemo u zoološki vrt (2008) Crno i bijelo (2008), Najljepše ljubavne pjesme (2010), Meni za ljubav (2012), Tko je, srce, u te dirn’o? (2016)
  • Denmark: Anja Nissen (2014)
  • Estonia:
  • Koit Toome:
  • As a soloist: Duetid Puudutus (1998), Koit Toome (1999), Allikas (2007), Sügav kummardus õpetajale (2009), Kaugele siit 2010)
  • As a member of the group Code One: Code One (1995), Code One 2 (1996)
  • Laura: Muusa (2007), Ultra (2009)
  • France: Ma peau aime (2017)
  • Germany: Unexpected (2017)
  • Greece: #1 (2012), Rodino Oneiro (2014)
  • Hungary: Vigaszdíj (2005)
  • Iceland:
  • As a soloist: The Real Me (2001), Birds of Freedom (2005)
  • As a member of the group Steed Lord: Truth Serum (2008), Heart II Heart (2010), The Prophecy Part 1 (2012)
  • Ireland: As a member of the band Hometown: HomeTown (2015)
  • Italy: Greitist Iz (2014), Eternamente ora (2016), Magellano (2017)
  • Latvia: EnterTainment (2010)
  • Lithuania: Contraction (2005)
  • Malta: Convincingly Better (2010)
  • Montenegro: San o vječnosti (2014)
  • The Netherlands: 300% (2008), Sweet 16 (2011), We Got This (2016)
  • Poland: Inspination (2015)
  • Portugal: Excuse Me (2016)
  • San Marino:
  • Valentina Monetta: Il mio gioco preferito (2011), La storia di Valentina Monetta (2013), Sensibilità (Sensibility) (2014)
  • Slovenia: Omar (2005), Kareem (2007), Na Glavo/No Helmet (2014)
  • Ukraine: O. Torvald (2008), V Tobi (2011), Prymat (2012), Ty E (2014), #нашiлюдивсюди (2016)

* After Yulia Samoylova was selected to perform for Russia with ‘Flame Is Burning’, let’s just say that ‘things happened’ and Russia will not be appearing on the Eurovision stage this year.

Categories: ESC Insight


A Sneak Peak At ESC Insight’s Plans For Kyiv

A Sneak Peak At ESC Insight’s Plans For Kyiv

ESC Insight, Where You Are The Interviewer

Let’s start with our new social podcast feature. ‘You Ask…

Back in the Eurovision press room after a 3-year sojourn, Sharleen Wright will be chasing down key figures from behind the scenes and giving you the opportunity to ask them the questions you’ve wanted to ask but never had the chance.

What exactly is a head of delegation responsible for?
What is it like to be in charge of the hot favourite entry?
What does it take to put together a ‘whole package’ for the stage?
How can someone get a foot in the door to part of the biggest music show on Earth?
How does a country who isn’t even part of European geography settle so well into Eurovision?

Send us your thoughts and contributions via Twitter (@ESCInsight). Sharleen will be online throughout the fortnight to not only find out out your questions to ask our guests directly, but will also be online to converse directly on all things Eurovision and announce who you can expect to hear on our downloads over the next two weeks.

Hello Internet!

As always the backbone of ESC Insight’s coverage will be through our podcast and the daily backstage chat show. Hosted by Ewan Spence with a rotating team of experts from ESC Insight and beyond, we’ll bring you our thoughts on the rehearsals, the performances and the atmosphere inside the IEC. We might bring in a few more interviews, explore Kyiv, as well as discussing who has a box under their dress and where the backing singers are hiding.

Alongside ‘You Ask…’, Letters From Eurovision’ will return with Jon Jacob’s uniquely acerbic take on Europe’s favourite TV show and everything that has built up around the Contest; Ewan will chair a number of in-depth interviews; and you’ll be able to download our alternative commentary tracks in time for the Semi Finals and Grand Finals from Eurovision 2017.

Ewan Spence and Lisa-Jayne Lewis, ready to take over the commentary booths (image: Will Adams)

Ewan Spence and Lisa-Jayne Lewis, ready to take over the commentary booths (image: Will Adams)

Going Live

As well as the online podcasts, ESC Insight in partnership with Radio Six International, will be providing an extensive syndication package to community and local radio stations around the world (and available to stream live at These include six hours of musical previews, a daily chat show starting on Monday May 1st, and a nightly two-minute news bulletin keeping listeners around the world up to date with what’s happening at the Contest.

Then there’s the hour before the Grand Final on Saturday May 13th. As Europe and the rest of the world settles down to watch the Song Contest the excitement will be building backstage in Kyiv… and we’ll be bringing you a live preview show to get you ready for the Contest. The whole ESC Insight team will be involved, along with star guests, expert analysis, a look at the betting markets and polls, and much more.

And Lots To Read From Kyiv

Our regular feature articles such as the Spotters Guide to the live shows, analysis of the juries and running orders, and a look at the musical gigs outside the Kyiv Eurovision bubble will all be present. We’ll also have the chance to look carefully at many aspects of this year’s contest from stagecraft and performance, to promotion and politics.

We’ll also introduce a new set of Eurovision Awards from our sister site ESC Buzz!

You can stay up to date by visiting the website, followings on Facebook or Twitter, or signing up to the Email Newsletter.

Let Us Know What You’d Like!

Every year after the Contest we run a survey on your thoughts about ESC Insight’s coverage – this year will be no different but if you want to suggest content ideas for our time in Kyiv that you want to see, you can let us know in the comments.

Categories: ESC Insight


This Is Kyiv: Your Important Travel Questions

This Is Kyiv: Your Important Travel Questions

Kyiv’s Airports

Ukraines main international airports are based in its capital – Kyiv. There are two airports there – Boryspil and Zhuliany.

Boryspil (airport code KBP) is considered the main international terminal however, servicing most of the airlines (65%) flying into Ukraine, including Ukrainian Airlines, LOT, Lufthansa and British Airways. The international terminal (terminal D), is located around 29km north of the city (approximately 30 minutes driving time). It can be a bit of a confusing beast to navigate coming back from the city for departures however, as the airport itself has a number of terminals servicing charter flights, domestic and international – so make sure you ask for Terminal D.

There are bus services ‘Skybus’ during the day and night travelling between the airport and the city, taking approximately 1 hour to reach Kyiv central bus station. These leave between every 15-30 minutes meeting most arrivals. The cost for this is 80UAH (approximately 3 Euro). For further information on how to purchase tickets, visit

However we would recommend organising either a taxi or transfer to your accommodation. For transfers, check with your hotel whether they offer such a service. It should cost no more than 400UAH (14 Euro) for transport from Boryspil to your location. Otherwise, order a taxi – these can be booked and paid for inside of the terminal at the ‘Official Taxi Office’, once again for 400UAH (14 Euro). Remember whilst in Kyiv that rates should always be negotiated prior to entering any taxi.

Kyiv Airport

Welcome to Kyiv!

Zhuliany (airport code IEV) Airport is the smaller of the international airports, located only 7km away in the citys’ south. It is home to most of the international discount airlines, such as Wizz Air, Vueling and FlyDubai.

For transport from this terminal, you are looking at either pre-organising a transfer with your accommodation for pick-up (this should be approximately 200 UAH, or 7 Euro), otherwise you can organise a taxi at the ‘Official Taxi Office’ on arrival. There are no specific bus transfer services offered from this airport.

We would also warn passengers that are currently booked to fly out of Zhuliany to check with their airlines in regard to their flights operation. This airport will close on Sunday 14th May (yes, the day after Eurovision!) for runway repairs. All flights therefore will be operating out of the bigger Boryspil airport at amended timetables. Whilst the airport management have advised that all necessary arrangements are in place to cope with confused passengers (such as offering free transfers to the other airport for their flights) and airlines, we highly recommend that you take the time prior to double-check your flight details with your airline directly and make arrangements to ensure you arrive AT LEAST 2 hours prior to your flight at the correct airport in order to clear security, customs and immigration in time.


Whilst most of the Eurovision fan community will have no stress entering Ukraine, for those who are holding Australian or Albanian passports, the situation is a little trickier.

Ukrainian Visa

Ukrainian visa stamps

Albanian passport holders will require a visa to be obtained prior to arrival into Kyiv, and as there is no embassy available in Albania to handle this, visas must be obtained via Greece (More details can be found at

For Australians, it is too late to pre-organise any Ukrainian visa now as the process takes approximately 3 weeks for processing via the Canberra-based embassy. Instead, Ukraine is offering a ‘visa on arrival’ service for Australians, but it only offers a single-entry visa of 15-days length for Ukraine at checkpoints across the State Border of Ukraine (Kyiv Airports (Boryspil and Zhuliany), Odessa Airport and Odessa Sea Port). Despite prior information indicating the cost of 20USD (which was far more economical than the pre-arranged visa), as of Easter 2017 the price of this service has increased 5 times over, to now be at a cost of 100USD. Payment however must be in the local currency, which can be obtained at the airport ATM. You must also provide documents proving the tourist nature of the trip (hotel booking, excursion booking, travel voucher or contract for the provision of tourist services).

Kyiv Hotels And Accommodation

As come to have been expected in Eastern European host cities, Kyiv employed the usual ‘availability blockout’ from last May up until March this year. This means, rather than the hotels being ‘sold out’, they were taken out of public availability ensuring that delegations and media were able to secure their places first before the general fans.  The practice tends to lead to panic reservations in less than prime establishments and at inflated prices.

Now that the availability has opened up, you can see that regular chain hotels, such as the Holiday Inn, Ibis, as well as local and large establishments such as Premier Hotel Rus, are now open with rooms at much more reasonable prices – even just a week out from the Contest.

In terms of your choice of accommodation – there are a wide range available, from private mini-hotels, to private apartments, and 2 to 5 star hotels. What we would most recommend however is looking at location. Most of the Eurovision places such as EuroVillage, Euroclub and the Eurovision arena are on the ‘red metro line’ (see Alisons’ excellent report on city transport options). Having a hotel that is also located close to a station on this line will save you both time and trouble trying to transfer in the middle of the city to reach your destination.

If you now find yourself debating whether to take that private apartment that is asking for your payment upfront and at a higher rate than originally booked, perhaps look at a well-known international hotel aggregator such as Expedia instead. There is plenty of availability even now, and you will benefit from your credit card being charged in your own local currency and safely.

Ukrainian Currency

Whilst the acceptance of bankcards (particularly Visa and Mastercard) is widespread, ultimately cash is king in Kyiv. Ukrainian Hryvnia is the local currency and will be accepted everywhere. If you have GBP, Euro or USD, these currencies are easily exchangeable in booths across town into the local currency.

Ukrainian coins

Ukrainian coins

Unfortunately, due to the fluctuation of currency in Ukraine, you are not able to pre-order Ukrainian currency prior to travels. It is not available for purchase in any airport or bank outside of the region, including in the United Kingdom, Australia or America. It is available in neighbouring countries such as Poland, Russia, Belarus and the Baltic nations, however it is substantially lower exchange rates (a loss of 30% of its actual value).

At the time of writing (22 April 2017), the exchange rates based are:

100 USD = 2670 Hryvnia
100 EUR = 2864 Hryvnia
100 GBP = 3422 Hryvnia
100 AUD = 2014 Hryvnia

What you should be aware of is financial safety. Whilst Kyiv is actually a very safe destination to visit as a tourist, financial security issues are rife. Prior to your departure, make sure to notify your bank about visiting Ukraine, as many financial institutions will immediately block your card when trying to use it in the territory due to the high occurrence of fraud transactions.

Ukrainian notes

Ukrainian notes

ATMs should always be checked for hidden skimming devices and cameras, and it would be recommended to only use those located inside major shopping centres, hotels, or best of all, banks. Additionally, black-market foreign exchange is seen across town, and to ensure that you are not ripped off, using official bank exchanges may seem not to be the best rates, but they are secure and do not charge commissions.

For those fans who are low on budget, or have only experienced Eurovision only in the likes of Austria and the Nordics, you will be relieved to know how cheap Ukraine can be once on the ground. For example (prices in EUR):

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant €4.15
3-course meal for 2 people in mid-range restaurant €17.40
McDonalds Big Mac meal €2.40
Cappuccino (regular cup) €0.75
Local beer (half-litre) €0.50
Coke (can) €0.40
Water (bottle) €0.30
One trip on the local metro €0.15

So, as you can see, a trip to the Contest in Kyiv won’t break the bank, and unless you plan on having living a champagne lifestyle, you could easily get away with a mere 200-300 Euro budget (around 5000-7000UAH) for the fortnight to cover everything else (beyond your actual accommodation, flights and show tickets) including some good meals, nightly drinking, transport and entertainment.

It’s Nearly Time To Leave!

For more practical tips regarding Ukraine to help make your life and Eurovision trip a little easier, stay tuned for ESC Insights’ last part in travel series of ‘This Is Kyiv’. We’ll be covering our top practical tips – everything from public facilities such as toilets and drinking water, to helpful words and phrases to know during your stay.

Categories: ESC Insight


Westerner’s Karma: Eurovision And Cultural Appropriation 101

Westerner’s Karma: Eurovision And Cultural Appropriation 101

Cultural Appropriation? What’s That?

Cultural appropriation is a technical academic term, which can make this principle sound more complicated than it actually is. It’s the name for what happens when one culture picks up and takes over the creative ideas and symbols of another culture that doesn’t have as much political or social power.

It’s different from cultural exchange and multiculturalism. Cultural exchange has been around as long as there’s been culture and has lead to brilliant things like the English language and haggis pakora. Multiculturalism is a slightly more recent thing, and is about the political idea of having all sorts of different cultural groups co-existing in the same places without forcing everyone to adopt the same culture.

Why Are Some People Angry About Cultural Appropriation?

People don’t like cultural appropriation because of the power dynamics. It can keep marginalised cultures marginalised and entrench stereotypes. A cultural appropriation pattern often goes like this:

  • Culture B discriminates against Culture A
  • Culture A has a cool thing
  • People from Culture B start adopting the cool thing to show how exotic and cool they are. Some of them might start making money from it too.
  • People from Culture A continue to be discriminated against, sometimes even for doing their cool thing.
  • Culture B say ‘we’re doing this to show how much we appreciate you!’
  • Culture A doesn’t feel very appreciated, actually.

Appropriation can strip cultural symbols of their original context and reduce complex, intricate cultures to dressing up costumes. Think of it as insulting stereotyping, but with the painful twist that the privileged people appropriating the symbols get praise and recognition that the original culture just doesn’t.

Talking about cultural appropriation is not about policing what you can and can’t wear, it’s not about stopping people from being inspired by other cultures and it’s not about curtailing freedom of expression or forcing people to stay in their boxes. The conversation about cultural appropriation is about trying to be more thoughtful and considerate about using other people’s symbols, especially religious ones, and trying to make sure that the full context and meaning comes along with the symbol.

It’s also about starting to defuse the tangled web of racism in our society.

But I’m Not Racist! I’m A Eurofan!

No, of course you’re not. But our society is. And because our society has racism and discrimination built so deeply into it, it would do us all good to think about how our actions fit into this and how we can be more thoughtful about it, in an attempt to make society less racist in the future. That’s what we’re saying when we talk about cultural appropriation – it’s about how we can accommodate each other and make our entertainment and culture hurt other people less.

I can’t tell you hard and fast rules about what is and what isn’t cultural appropriation, but I can give you these questions to ask yourself when you’re looking at pop-culture & fashion from this point of view:

  • Are garments from another culture being worn as an exoticised or sexualised dressing up costume?
  • Is someone else’s religious symbol being used in a disrespectful manner?
  • What is the original meaning of this garment/accessory/action/song/dance? What am I using it to mean?
  • Is this making light of someone else’s historical suffering?
  • Would I let someone put a photo of me wearing/doing this on public social media?

But What About…

Yes! What about the blues? We wouldn’t have modern pop music at all if it wasn’t for cultural appropriation. In the early years of the recording industry, white record producers went out to record black musicians all around the United States in order to capitalise on their unique sound because it was exotic to the rich white city dwellers who could afford the new musical technology.

These records crystallised in a relationship between the black musicians who supplied the creative content and the white producers who ended up making the money. Modern rock music, which let’s not forget is quite painfully white, male and middle class, is a product of this original appropriation. It doesn’t stop rock music being fun or enjoyable, but it’s an unavoidable factor in considering it.

What can you do about this? Well, if you’re a rock fan you can go back to the work of innovative black musicians – Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, the list goes on and on – and find out about them and give them their due.

 Why Are We Talking About Cultural Appropriation In Eurovision?

Primarily because of Italy. Before I looked at what the lyrics meant, the video for ‘Occidentali’s Karma’ made me do a sharp intake of breath. Straightforward culture as a costume there, I thought. We’ve got a white guy in Buddhist robes doing tea ceremonies and mucking about with incense and shrines. And then, oh my god, he does a funny dance with a gorilla – a primate who through no fault of its own is used in racist caricatures.

But when you put it in context and look at the lyrics, ‘Occidentali’s Karma’ is actually about Western cultural appropriation – specifically the kind of orientalism that the West has been indulging in since Marco Polo apocryphally came back from China with noodles.

In the first verse, the lyrics talk about various forms of modern existential doubt (il dubbio amletico) but the pre-chorus and chorus talk about how the philosophically challenged Westerners are searching for meaning in the stories of their lives and they look to the thought systems of other cultures (Lezioni di Nirvana). Linking it into the idea of evolution stumbling and our animal nature emerging (la scimmia nuda balla) sort of muddies the waters, but once examined, the song places Francesco as playing the character of a Western idiot indulging in pick and mix cultural appropriation in order to satisfy his soul.

So ‘Occidentali’s Karma’ is poking fun at cultural appropriation, which you can either view as a sly creative point, or an interesting way of being able to dress up in your fancy chinoiserie suit and stay on the right side of us social justice warriors.

In Conclusion

People are concerned about cultural appropriation, not because it’s the biggest problem in the world right now, but because it’s an easy to tackle sign that we live in an ignorant society that doesn’t equally value all the cultures within it. By being more considerate about how we represent other cultures and use their iconography, we can start working towards a society where we can be free to share our cultures on an equal basis.

Further Reading And Resources

  • Cochella’s Cultural Appropriation (Teen Vogue)
  • An extensive collection of articles can be found at Everyday Feminism.
  • What Is Cultural Appropriation and Why Is It Wrong? (Thought Co)
  • Native Appropriations is a forum for discussing representations of Native peoples, including stereotypes, cultural appropriation, news, activism, and more.
  • Faking It: The Quest For Authenticity In Popular Music (Amazon)
  • Borrowed Power: Essays on Cultural Appropriation (Amazon)

Categories: ESC Insight


Newsletter: Class of 2017 makes Amsterdam in Concert a record breaker

Newsletter: Class of 2017 makes Amsterdam in Concert a record breaker

37 of the 43 participants for the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest showcased their entries at this weekend’s Amsterdam preview concert, making it the biggest ‘Eurovision In Concert’ to date.

Performing in front of a packed crowd of 1,500 fans at the Melkweg Concert Hall allowed the entrants to give the best impression yet of how they might handle the pressure of the live Eurovision show, with seasoned performers like Italy’s Francesco Gabbani and Sweden’s Robin Bengtsson cementing their status as pre-contest favourites with predictably assured performances.

The absentees from this year’s lineup were Australia, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Portugal and Russia. Of these, Australia, Croatia and Russia have yet to give televised live performances of their songs, while Estonia, Iceland and Portugal have yet to be seen outside their national finals.

Iceland didn’t go completely unrepresented though. Two-time participant Selma Björnsdóttir co-hosted the event with longtime Dutch commentator Cornald Maas, delivering energetic performances of her 1999 and 2005 entries for the crowd.

You can read the rest of this week’s newsletter online here. For weekly updates direct to your inbox, subscribe here. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Categories: ESC Insight

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