By Daniel Twist


Unless you’ve been hiding from the news for some much-needed summer rest, you’re unlikely to have escaped the announcement that the UK will hold the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of victors Ukraine next year. The decision to move the Contest has been made for obvious reasons; but it’s been taken seriously by those in charge – and was even a topic of discussion between President Volodymyr Zelensky and Boris Johnson. Both agreed to make sure Ukrainian Culture is celebrated front and centre at Eurovision next year. Zelensky also said that he wants the captured city of Mariupol to host the contest one day. If it does, I want to be there showing my solidarity too. I hope one day we can return the favour to Ukraine.

I have attended the Eurovision Song Contest four times in my life. Each one holds a special moment I’ll never forget. My first Contest in Copenhagen in 2014 began waiting in the pouring rain to get into an old former shipbuilding hangar on the island of Refshaleøen that was renamed “Eurovision Island”. The hangar was converted into an impressive arena with a colossal cubic structure on the centre stage. The experience felt welcoming, fun and escapist, and the Danes had undoubtedly created the perfect Eurovision Island. That night Conchita Wurst, the famous bearded drag queen, won for Austria, and it felt like a moment in history.

Since then, my Eurovision travels have taken me to Stockholm in 2016, where the whole city felt like Eurovision heaven. Swedes love Eurovision, and quite rightly, they produced arguably the best Eurovision winning act in ABBA and embraced the Contest as if it were family. The city council even changed the pedestrian lights, so we were treated to an ABBA track rather than hearing a bleep. Genius. I remember the interval act in the Eurovision final was Justin Timberlake that year, and it suddenly felt like Eurovision had arrived on the world stage.

Lisbon in 2018 was a city that had never hosted the Eurovision Song Contest and one of the first to open a large free-to-enter Eurovision Village in pride of place - Terrier do Paço; a square right in the heart of this imperial city. It was quite the experience to watch one of the semi-finals on a large TV screen while the sun goes down over the majestic Tagus River. It’s a reminder that Eurovision doesn’t mean you must buy a ticket. Everyone can enjoy the festivities for free. However, I was lucky to watch the Final that year, where Israel won through the artist Netta and her song To.

Israel has won the Contest four times, and this was its first win since 1998. Incidentally, Netta, in her victory speech, wanted to welcome us all to Jerusalem for the Contest the following year. But after a tender, where the Israeli government openly wanted Jerusalem to be the host city, it was decided the stunning Mediterranean city of Tel Aviv should welcome Eurovision in 2019. The European Broacasting Union and host broadcaster KAN made the choice; and to backtrack to the subject at hand – Glasgow – it really does show that we should take nothing for granted here.

I was a little nervous about visiting Tel Aviv - it’s hard not to worry about security, being well aware of the horrific conflict in Israel and Palestine in. I also knew that I would be asked awkward questions by the Tel Aviv Airport passport control. But when I mentioned I was going to Eurovision, the border officer gave me a beaming smile and a big stamp on my passport. Eurovision breaks down many barriers, it seemed, and I was right. The whole experience in Tel Aviv was incredible. From the nightclub nights where I danced to Eurovision hits until 6 am, to the Israelis at any opportunity talking with me about everything Eurovision, I was welcomed with open arms.

I’ve been to my fair share of sports events, and there’s the inevitable rivalry. At Eurovision, everyone is looking out for each other whatever their background and nationality. The whole experience, from enjoying the beauty of a city to meeting fans from all over the world, feels incredibly inclusive, wrapped up in a wonderful week of camp fun.

All the ingredients above are what makes a good Eurovision host city and that is why it’s got to be Glasgow next year. I know my family in Merseyside will doubt my choice. Liverpool is billing itself as the perfect host because they have UNESCO City of Music status - but they’re forgetting Glasgow has this accolade too!

Also in its favour, is the fact Glasgow has successfully hosted several huge events recently. We’ve had the Commonwealth Games, COP26, the MTV Europe Music Awards and the MOBO Awards. This won’t go unnoticed by Eurovision organisers. Glasgow virtually breathes music, hosting a whopping 130 music events each week – one of the highest numbers in the UK.

We all know that “people make Glasgow” – but it’s Glasgow that can make Eurovision. It’s a friendly, welcoming city with bars, nightclubs and pubs capable of building the party atmosphere expected for the Contest. When it comes to the mandatory Eurovision requirements, Glasgow ticks all the boxes. The city has an indoor venue capable of holding over 10,000 spectators. It is absolutely capable of accommodating more than 2,000 spectators and contestants, and it has an international airport.Glasgow Green and George Square are perfect locations for the free-to-visit Eurovision village.

Glasgow is a vibrant, welcoming, multicultural city. Our willingness to embrace other cultures, to me, makes the city feel like the obvious choice to celebrate Ukraine’s rich heritage of music and culture. This must be prominent at next year’s Eurovision, and few cities will be as capable of accepting this challenge as Glasgow. To any organisers wondering if Glasgow is ready to host Eurovision, there’s only one answer to give: You bet we are.

Daniel Twist is a BAFTA Scotland award-winning TV producer who has worked for CBBC in Glasgow and London. He is a lecturer for the Broadcast Production: TV and Radio degree at the University of the West of Scotland