Harrogate Convention Centre not bidding for Eurovision Song Contest return

Harrogate Convention Centre has confirmed it will not bid for the Eurovision Song Contest to return to the venue at next year's UK event.

By Jacob Webster
Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 8:51 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 8:53 am
Eurovision was held at Harrogate Convention Centre when the venue opened in 1982.
Eurovision was held at Harrogate Convention Centre when the venue opened in 1982.

Several cities and towns have already expressed an interest in hosting the event which organisers on Monday confirmed would not be held in last year's winning country Ukraine due to the ongoing war.

But Harrogate Convention Centre - which hosted Eurovision in 1982 - has announced it will not be making a submission as the contest has outgrown its capacity.

Organisers the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) say host venues should be able to accommodate at least 10,000 spectators and 1,500 journalists.

Yet the convention centre's auditorium has a capacity of just under 2,000 which was enough 40 years ago, but now falls well short of today's requirements.

A convention centre spokesperson said: "Eurovision 1982 put Harrogate on the world map.

"We are very proud of that history and are always delighted to host major events in our beautiful spa town.

"To put things into perspective, 18 countries participated in 1982, and in 2022, 40 countries competed for the awards.

"The scale of Eurovision has more than doubled over the years and understandably it will require a hosting city with the capacity and infrastructure to match."

Included in the cities bidding to host the 2023 event is Leeds which has received the backing of Harrogate Convention Centre.

Also in Yorkshire, Sheffield was among the first to announce a bid for the song contest.

The country which wins usually stages the following year's competition, but the EBU opened talks with the BBC last month after assessing the situation following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The BBC and EBU said they will consider all official approaches and publish a list of bidding cities and towns later this summer.

BBC director general Tim Davie said it was a "great privilege" to host the music competition, but regretful that Ukraine was not able to host.

He said the broadcaster would make the event "a true reflection of Ukrainian culture alongside showcasing the diversity of British music and creativity".

Martin Österdahl, the Eurovision Song Contest’s executive supervisor, also said: "We know that next year’s contest will showcase the creativity and skill of one of Europe’s most experienced public broadcasters whilst ensuring this year’s winners, Ukraine, are celebrated and represented throughout the event.”

Remembering when Harrogate hosted Eurovision - and the future of the town's convention centre

The UK has hosted the Eurovision Song Contest more times than any other nation or country, with seven events in the cities of London, Edinburgh, Brighton and Birmingham since 1960.

But in 1982 it was a major coup for Harrogate which showcased the town's newly-opened convention centre to millions across the world.

It was Germany which was crowned the champion of Europe at the then state-of-the-art venue.

But 40 years on, there are now warnings that the convention centre is in “critical need” of an upgrade in order to keep its appeal.

Harrogate Borough Council has proposed a major redevelopment of the venue which in total could cost around £47 million. Yet there are questions over how it could be funded and the plans have yet to be approved by councillors.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter