The (eye-watering) costs of Eurovision
Europe’s most beloved song contest is a celebration of music, culture, pyrotechnics, and camp — but it comes with a steep price tag both for eager attendees and for the host city.
6 min read
The world’s longest-running international music competition, Eurovision is a celebration of music, culture, pyrotechnics, and all things camp. Bringing together performers from 37 different countries and with 160 million viewers expected to tune in, this year’s final will be hosted by the United Kingdom in the city of Liverpool on May 13th.
But with tickets selling out in just 36 minutes, hotels and Airbnbs in Liverpool hiking up their prices by up to 380%, and Liverpool council shelling out €2.3 million to host the event, Eurovision is both a lucrative business opportunity and a costly expense. Here, we dig into the numbers to get a clear picture of the competition’s true costs — with a few surprises along the way.
How Eurovision works
Running annually since 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest brings together performers from predominantly (though not exclusively) European countries for a televised singing competition. Each country is represented by one artist or group that performs an original song to the audience of millions who are either watching the broadcast or attending the live event. These performances are famed for their kitsch, campy style, heavy use of fireworks, outrageous outfits, and theatrical dance routines. It’s essentially a full-on treat for the senses — complete with some of the strangest song lyrics in the business.
Once all the performances are over, citizens from the competing countries vote for their favorite song. These results are then combined with the votes from an official Eurovision jury that consists of five members, including a singer, DJ, composer, lyricist, or producer. The final tallies are then added to a live televised scoreboard for maximum nail-biting effect.
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The cost of a Eurovision ticket
Tickets for Eurovision 2023 sold out in just 36 minutes. Split into multiple events held across two days, eager fans could purchase tickets for one of three Eurovision performances in the 11,000-capacity Liverpool Arena.
The jury rehearsal: €115 – €315 per ticket
Hosted the evening before the live shows, the jury rehearsal is an untelevised show for the jury members to watch and then vote on the different performances. The show happens in front of a in-person audience and is an exact copy of the live version that will take place the following day, including both the opening and intermission acts.
The family rehearsal: €90 – €215 per ticket
The family rehearsal takes place in the afternoon on the day of the televised final. Thanks to its earlier time schedule, it’s aimed specifically at families who want to attend Eurovision.
The live show: €180 – €430 per ticket
The most expensive and sought-after tickets, the live show is the main event: the televised performance. Live-show attendees will see all of the performances as well as the live voting process, before being treated to a final number from the winner of this year’s competition.
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Major spike in hotel prices for Eurovision
Ukraine would traditionally be hosting the 2023 competition, because the Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine was the winner of Eurovision 2022. However, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine still ongoing, this year the hosting role falls to the U.K., the 2022 runner-up. After several U.K. cities — including Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, and Sheffield — went head-to-head to compete for the hosting privileges, Liverpool was chosen for the 2023 competition.
Once the news was announced last October that Liverpool would host Eurovision, many hotels and Airbnbs canceled existing bookings and hiked up their prices. Generally considered one of the cheaper cities to visit in the U.K. during spring, many business owners and landlords jumped to take advantage of the extra 150,000 visitors that Liverpool is expecting to host during the Eurovision weekend.
Less than 12 hours after Liverpool was announced as the 2023 host city, 99% of hotels had sold out for the Eurovision weekend — often at shocking prices. A single room at the Britannia Adelphi Hotel would typically cost €60 a night. After the announcement, they were sold for €790 a night. Likewise, prices for a budget triple room outside of the city center that would have gone for around €40 were hiked up to around €3100.
Liverpool Airbnbs — at 3.5 times the usual price
As Liverpool city center only has 84 hotels, Airbnb collaborated with Visit Liverpool to encourage more residents to list their properties. The goal was to help the city cope with the increasing demand for accommodation. However, things quickly got out of hand, with customers complaining that their pre-existing bookings had been canceled so that hosts could relist the property and charge more. In comparison to the average cost of weekend accommodation in Liverpool, Airbnb saw costs increase by 358.6%, slightly behind the 383.4% seen in hotel prices.
The costs and gains for Liverpool, the Eurovision host
To host Eurovision, Liverpool city council will be using €2.3 million of council funds, which will be matched by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. Additional funding will come via the European Broadcasting Union, the BBC, and the U.K. government — for a total investment of around €11.3 million.
However, these costs are a fraction of what the city expects to make in return. Eurovision is projected to add roughly €34 million to the local economy, with some experts saying that figure could be even higher in a city where 47% of the economy is funded by tourism.
Eurovision’s impact on Liverpool’s hospitality industry
For Liverpool’s hospitality industry and tourism-focused businesses, hit hard by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis, many are touting Eurovision as a lifeline. The city is in the grip of Eurovision fever, from theaters putting on Eurovision-themed shows to the two-week-long Eurofestival featuring 24 new commissions, most of which are collaborations between British and Ukrainian artists.
Although Ukraine wasn’t able to host this year’s competition, Liverpool’s hospitality industry is paying homage to the winners of Eurovision 2022. Restaurants are creating special menus fusing Liverpudlian and Ukrainian cuisine, while a local distillery has launched a gin infused with Ukrainian botanicals and packaged in a disco-ball bottle.
Budgeting for a big-ticket event
Buying a ticket for something like Eurovision is often just one of many expenses associated with attending the event. From travel and accommodation to money spent on food, drinks, and merchandise, the full amount usually adds up to much more than simply the cost of admission.
To budget effectively for events like these, it’s a good idea to take all additional costs into account when setting your savings goal. By getting a clearer picture of how much you need, you’ll avoid any surprises later on. Plus, you may find that it’s easier to enjoy the event knowing that you aren’t overspending and you’ve got your finances under control.
If you’re new to budgeting, a great place to start is the 50/30/20 budget. This simple, straightforward financial framework can help you better balance your essential and non-essential costs alongside your saving goals.
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