First Direct Arena, Leeds in blue and yellow

Leeds on shortlist to host Eurovision Song Contest 2023

12 August 2022

Leeds is through to the final stage of the competition to host the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in 2023, on behalf of Ukraine.

The BBC has announced seven shortlisted places, of which Leeds is one, selected from 20 long-listed locations from across the UK.

Leeds City Council, which is leading the bid to host the iconic competition, promises a region-wide celebration with and for Ukraine and already has begun to engage the 5,000 strong* Ukrainian community across Leeds and Yorkshire.

With preparations at an advanced stage for its landmark year of culture, LEEDS 2023, making the shortlist marks a major milestone for Leeds as they prepare to let culture loose.

Responding to the shortlist announcement, Councillor Jonathan Pryor – Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council and executive member for economy, culture and education, said:

This is fantastic news! I’d like to thank everyone who has put their time and energy into creating a compelling bid in a short space of time. People from our Ukrainian communities in Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield and Wakefield, businesses, partner organisations across Yorkshire – thank you to all who have given their support and helped us shape what we believe is a winning submission.

The creative and hospitality sectors have been the most impacted from the pandemic and the effects are still being felt. Eurovision presents an opportunity for our local businesses and workers to reap the immediate benefits from delivering and supporting this major event. Longer-term, the global reach of the biggest song contest in the world will help in our goal to put Leeds and Yorkshire firmly on the international map as an inclusive tourist destination.

We’re keeping the details of our entry tightly under wraps for now, as the competition heats up, but I can say that Eurovision in Leeds for Ukraine will be outstanding, a celebration of Ukraine, our city and the incredible Eurovision ability to bring everyone together.

The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s largest live music event, organised annually since 1956 by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which represents public service media in 56 countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The 2022 competition reached over 180 million viewers on TV and digital platforms. [Source: Eurovision]

Tracy Brabin, the Mayor of West Yorkshire, said:

I’m absolutely delighted that Leeds has been shortlisted to host Eurovision 2023 – it’s an amazing city, bursting at the seams with vibrant creativity and would shine given the chance to host this event. The whole West Yorkshire region is a beacon of culture – from Bradford’s City of Culture in 2025, to Kirklees Year of Music in 2023.

Since the tragic events unfolded in Ukraine, we have opened our arms to offer solidarity, support and shelter to the people of Ukraine. And I hope that Leeds, and the whole of West Yorkshire, will be given the honour of hosting Eurovision in their name.”

Chair of LEEDS 2023, Gabby Logan, said: “Leeds is already dusting down its sequins in preparation for LEEDS 2023, our year-long celebration of culture, so we’d be honoured to host Eurovision during our special year.

We are a city that has for centuries welcomed people from all over the globe with open arms; and in a region with one of the largest Ukrainian populations in the UK outside of London, the city stands ready and able to put on a dazzling show with our Ukrainian family. Together we will sing our hearts out and dance in the streets of Leeds and invite the world to join in!

Olga Callaghan, chair of the Leeds Branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, added: “It would be a wonderful privilege for Leeds to host Eurovision and a wonderful celebration of Yorkshire’s historic links with Ukraine. People across Leeds have already made our vibrant Ukrainian community feel at home and I am certain that they would throw their arms wide and welcome the rest of Europe to celebrate Ukraine and Eurovision next year. Let us all celebrate peace, friendship and Ukraine in Leeds during Eurovision 2023.”

Leeds’ own ‘Spice Girl’ Mel B endorsed her home-city’s bid:

I’d love to see Leeds as the venue for Eurovision. It’s a great city bursting with great people and fantastic character – the perfect backdrop for an iconic show like Eurovision.

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