The Eurovision Song Contest is a staple of spring – and after being cancelled altogether due to the pandemic last year, the cheesiest singing competition is coming back.
Some restrictions will still be in place – the auditorium will be at half capacity and everyone must have a negative COVID test before entering. That aside, it’ll be the same Eurovision you’ve always known. We’re even having numerous contestants from 2020 coming back for another shot at first place.
We’ve rounded up all the information on the Eurovision Song Contest, including how to tune in, who is taking part, the UK representing act and more.
When is Eurovision 2021 and where is it being held?
Eurovision was meant to take place last year in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. After being cancelled due to the coronavirus in 2020, the contest will still be held in this location this year.
The Eurovision Grand Final will take place on 22 May 2021 at 8pm BST. If you want to watch the Semi-Finals, these take place on 18 and 20 May 2021, also starting at 8pm BST. It’s worth noting that the UK will not perform in the Semi-Finals, as the country automatically qualifies for a place in the Grand Final.
The Semi-Finals will be around two hours long, whilst the Grand Final will be around four hours long – get those snacks in.
There will be interval performances from Dutch DJ Afrojack featuring Glennis Grace, the reigning Eurovision winner Duncan Laurence, and a collaborative performance from the following former Eurovision champions: Lenny Kuhr, Teach-In, Sandra Kim, Helena Paparizou, Lordi and Måns Zelmerlöw.
How to watch the Eurovision Song Contest in the UK
As per previous years, you’ll be able to tune in to the Grand Final of Eurovision 2021 on BBC One. Graham Norton will be returning for his usual hilarious commentary.
You’ll also be able to watch the show live on the BBC One website, or on iPlayer shortly after broadcast online or on the BBC iPlayer app on your tablet or smartphone.
Meanwhile, the Semi-Finals will air on BBC Four, and will also be available on iPlayer if you miss the shows live. These will be presented by Rylan Clark-Neal, Scott Mills and Chelcee Grimes.
You can also listen along to the contest on BBC Radio 2.
How to watch the Eurovision Song Contest from the US
If you’re in the US things are a little trickier. In 2018 cable channel Logo broadcast the show, but it’s decided not to renew the rights, once again leaving the show without an American home.
With that in mind, the best option to watch Eurovision in the US is to install a VPN, which you can use to watch the whole thing online on the BBC website. Our usual VPN recommendation is NordVPN, which has a good balance of price, reliability, and features, but check out our full guide to the best VPN for streaming if you want to consider other options.
Once you’ve chosen your VPN, just head to the BBC website, make an account and watch the song contest live.
You will need a UK postcode that is tied to an address with a TV licence. You can find further instructions in our guide to watching BBC iPlayer abroad.
It’s worth noting that in 2019, the Eurovision Grand Final was livestreamed on YouTube. We don’t know yet whether this will be the case for 2021. Once we know more, we’ll update this article.
How to vote in the Eurovision Song Contest
If the show uses the same system as it did in 2019, the easiest way to vote for your favourite act in the Eurovision Song Contest is by downloading the app onto your smartphone or tablet. It’s available from Google Play, the iOS App Store and the Windows Store, and it’s free to download.
Once you’ve got the app, you’ll be able to find out more about the participants from the countries taking part, and you’ll also be able to find out the latest Eurovision news.
But more importantly, you can cast your vote using the app simply by clicking on the vote button and choosing your favourite. You can vote up to 20 times, but you cannot vote for the country you are voting from.
It’s worth noting that you can only vote if you’re in one of the 41 participating countries – so US fans can only observe, we’re afraid.
Eurovision Song Contest 2021 contestants
There are 41 countries participating in Eurovision 2021, but only 26 will make it through to the Grand Final. As The Netherlands are hosting, they automatically get a slot.
The Big 5 countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom) also all automatically qualify, as is tradition. The remaining twenty will be selected from the Semi-Finals – with the top ten from each show winning a slot.
The countries competing in the first Semi-Final (18 May) are Lithuania, Slovenia, Russia, Sweden, Australia, North Macedonia, Ireland, Cyprus, Norway, Croatia, Belgium, Israel, Romania, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Malta.
The countries taking part in the second Semi-Final (20 May) are San Marino, Estonia, Czech Republic, Greece, Austria, Poland, Moldova, Iceland, Serbia, Georgia, Albania, Portugal, Bulgaria, Finland, Latvia, Switzerland and Denmark
All countries have now declared their acts for the competition. 24 acts from 2020 will be returning – including favourite of 2020, Daði og Gagnamagnið of Iceland, and the UK representative, James Newman.
The song selected for the UK is Embers by James Newman, who has previously collaborated with the likes of Calvin Harris and Rudimental. The original song for 2020 was more of a ballad – this song however is much more upbeat, positive and ‘classic Eurovision’.
But can it stack up against the competition? The early favourites are Malta – but everything can change on the night.