Eurovision Song Contest
Eurovision Song Contest Image Credit: Netflix

London: The Beatles' home city of Liverpool will hold the 2023 Eurovision song contest next May, the BBC announced on Friday, after Britain stepped in to host the event due to the war in Ukraine.

"It's Liverpool, 13th May," said the BBC's Eurovision show presenter Graham Norton announcing the result live on television after the shortlist was whittled down to Liverpool or Glasgow.

Singer Sonia Evans, who hails from Liverpool and came second for the UK in the 1993 contest, said she was "absolutely over the moon" by the choice.

"We are going to have the biggest party ever," she said. "Liverpool has the music history of the whole world. It ticks all the boxes."

The northwestern English city was famously home to the Beatles as well as a host of other big names from Gerry and the Pacemakers to Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

"A welcoming city with a proud musical heritage, Liverpool will put on an unforgettable show which celebrates the rich culture and creativity of Ukraine," tweeted British Prime Minister Liz Truss.

Ukraine had been due to host the contest after Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra in May won the Eurovision crown, on a wave of support for their country following Russia's invasion.

The group beat 24 competitors in the finale in Turin with "Stefania", a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

"Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now," frontman Oleh Psiuk appealed in English from the stage, referring to the port city's steelworks where Ukrainian soldiers had been surrounded by Russian forces for weeks.

Britain's entrant Sam Ryder came second with his quirky song "Space Man".

But despite protests from President Volodymyr Zelensky's government, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs Eurovision, in June ruled that Ukraine could not guarantee the safety of the more than 10,000 people involved in the production and a further 30,000 fans expected to attend.

'You'll do Ukraine proud'

"We did it!" said Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson on Twitter after the announcement.

"Liverpool is honoured to be hosting Eurovision 2023 on behalf of Ukraine... now begins the work on organising the party."

The BBC confirmed the semi finals would take place in the city on May 9 and 11, with the grand final on May 13.

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon tweeted her best wishes to Liverpool after Scotland's second city of Glasgow lost out.

"Congratulations, Liverpool. Gutted for Glasgow, but no doubt you'll do Eurovision and Ukraine proud," she wrote.

The government in Kyiv had originally vowed to fight the decision not to allow it to play host but later agreed to a UK-hosted event with a strongly Ukrainian flavour.

Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said that after "several rounds" of discussion, the EBU had given assurances of an "extremely high integration of Ukrainian context and presenters".

British prime minister Boris Johnson at the time said that it had been agreed with Zelensky that "wherever Eurovision 2023 is held, it must celebrate the country and people of Ukraine".

"As we are now hosts, the UK will honour that pledge directly - and put on a fantastic contest on behalf of our Ukrainian friends," Johnson added.

Eurovision is the world's biggest live music event, taking in performers from across Europe and Central Asia as well as Israel and Australia.

It will be produced in the UK by the BBC.

In line with Eurovision rules, Ukraine is still guaranteed a place in the 2023 grand final along with the EBU's "top five" countries: Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The UK has previously hosted the contest eight times, including four times in London.

The last time was in Birmingham in central England in 1998.