Eurovision Grand Final to mix pop and politics with glitzy united show

The stage is set at Eurovision 2023 in Liverpool and this year’s 26 finalists have been selected.

Ten acts from each semi-final have qualified along with last year’s winner Ukraine and the Big Five countries who fund Eurovision - France, Germany, the UK, Spain and Italy.

But the question on everyone’s lips is who will win this year's contest?

As the dress rehearsal got underway at the Liverpool Arena on Friday, Finland’s Käärijä was a firm fan favourite.

"I’m definitely cheering for Finland," Estonian fan Vitali said. "I think Finland has really good chances of winning."

Online, ‘Tattoo’ by Sweden’s Loreen has been streamed on Spotify more than any other of this year’s tracks, with Italy’s Due Vita by Marco Mengoni in second.

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Loreen of Sweden performs during dress rehearsals for the Grand final at the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, England, Friday, May 12, 2023. - AP Photo

The bookies agree with Spotify and have 2012 Eurovision winner Loreen pegged as this year’s champ.

But all will be revealed Saturday night.

Our cultural committee convened on the eve of the competition to examine some of the performances, glitz, glamour and issues on and off-stage as this year's event

"Life united by music"

Eurovision is Europe's biggest musical party, and tens of thousands of music fans have flocked to Liverpool, which won a competition among UK cities to stand in for Ukraine. The city on the River Mersey has thrown itself into the party spirit, with many pubs and venues holding Eurovision parties.

AP Photo
Fans put a Ukrainian flag on the Beatles Statue at Pier Head, ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest final at the M&S Bank Arena on Saturday, in Liverpool, England, Friday - AP Photo

Businesses fly blue and yellow Ukrainian flags, and a Ukrainian village inside the waterfront Eurovision fan zone dishes out borsch soup and varenyky — potato-filled dumplings — alongside lessons in Ukrainian art and history.

“We feel like (we’re) at home in Ukraine,” said Iryna Schcerbuk, 30, of Kyiv, who came from her new home in southeast England to watch Thursday’s Eurovision semifinal. “It’s a very beautiful atmosphere.”

“I want all life to be like this, whole life Eurovision village, and whole life Eurovision celebration,” said Daryna Borodaikevych, 29, one of more than 200,000 Ukrainians who have moved to Britain since Russia invaded its neighbour almost 15 months ago.

“Whole life united by music,” she added, echoing the motto of this year’s Eurovision competition.