Eurovision semi-final: Full guide on how to watch, how to vote, presenters, and full list of musician guests

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All eyes will be on Liverpool tonight as the Eurovision semi-finals are set to kick off tonight, bringing with it a star-studded line-up

The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 has officially arrived in the UK with the first of two live semi-finals taking place tonight (Tuesday May 9). The star-studded event will see millions tuning in to see Liverpool host the 67th edition of the competition.

The event marks the first time since 1998 that the UK has played host to the contest. Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2022, so traditionally, they would be the hosts of the contest this year. However, last year Ukraine confirmed it would be unable to host the contest due to the ongoing war with Russia. The UK offered to host the event after coming second in the 2022 contest.

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Presenting the two live semi-finals (Tuesday 9 and Thursday 11 May) from Liverpool will be the trio of entertainment superstars Alesha Dixon, Hannah Waddingham and Julia Sanina. Ukrainian broadcaster Timur Miroshnychenko will be popping up in the live shows, while bringing his expert commentary to Ukrainian audiences from his commentary box in the Liverpool Arena.

Radio DJs and Eurovision experts, Scott Mills and Rylan will bring UK audiences their colourful and insightful commentary throughout the BBC One and BBC iPlayer live broadcast.

The big night will kick off with an emotive film from the BBC entitled ‘Welcome to Liverpool’ which will showcase the best of the UK through the eyes of a young Liverpudlian boy as he discovers that his home city is set to host the 2023 Contest. Along the way we see some special guests with their own personal connection to Liverpool making their own preparations to welcome Ukraine to the city.

The BBC confirmed the late presenter would feature as one of the famous faces in the film in a statement that read: “One of the famous faces from Liverpool that also appears in the film is the late Paul O’Grady.

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“This is one of the last things Paul filmed before he passed away last month and his appearance in the film was agreed with the blessing of his family and friends. Paul took part in this film as he wanted to mark his pride in his home region of Liverpool hosting the contest on behalf of 2022 winners Ukraine.”

The film will also feature the likes of Wirral-born Paul Hollywood, Ukrainian Everton football star Vitalii Mykolenko, Liverpool FC women’s footballers Sofie Lungaard from Denmark and Emma Koivisto from Finland, legendary actor Ricky Tomlinson who revisits his Brookside character Bobby Grant, Ukrainian Strictly Come Dancing star Nikita Kuzmin and Drag Race UK contestant Sister Sister and many more.

Eurovision 2023 venue The M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool - Credit: Eurovision / M&SBAEurovision 2023 venue The M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool - Credit: Eurovision / M&SBA
Eurovision 2023 venue The M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool - Credit: Eurovision / M&SBA | Eurovision / M&SBA

So, how can you get involved with the excitement as Eurovision 2023 officially starts? Here’s everything you need to know including how to vote and how to watch.

How to vote Eurovision Song Contest semi-final

According to the BBC, audiences in the UK will not be able to vote in the first Semi-Final. However, they will be able to vote in the second semi-final on May 11.

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The six countries who are automatically through to the Grand Final (UK, France, Germany, Spain Italy and Ukraine as last year’s winners) are featured in the two semi-finals but the public will not be able to vote for them. More information about how you can vote can be found on the BBC Eurovision vote website page.

Eurovision candidates throughout history (Image: Kim Mogg)Eurovision candidates throughout history (Image: Kim Mogg)
Eurovision candidates throughout history (Image: Kim Mogg) | Kim Mogg

How to watch Eurovision Song Contest semi-final

As usual the whole event from the semi-finals to the grand finale will be shown live on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. The semi-final will take place on May 9, starting at 8pm on BBC One.

BBC Radio 2 will also be broadcasting both Eurovision semi-finals for the first time this year, on Tuesday 9 May and Wednesday 11 May at 8pm. These shows will also be simulcast on BBC Radio Merseyside.

Which countries are competing in the first Eurovision Semi-Final?

The first group of countries who will compete for a place in Saturday’s Grand Final are: Azerbaijan, Croatia, Czechia, Finland, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland.

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Eurovision Semi-Finals interval acts and musical guests

For the Semi-Finals first interval, global superstar Rita Ora takes to the stage to deliver a show-stopping medley of some of her biggest hits. Ukrainian singer Alyosha – who represented Ukraine in Eurovision 2010 will also perform alongside Liverpool’s very own critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter, Rebecca Ferguson.

The semi-finals will feature performances from the following:

  • Rita Ora
  • Julia Sanina
  • Rebecca Ferguson
  • Mariya Yaremchuk
  • OTOY
  • Zlata Dziunka
  • Alyosha
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