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‘Back with a bang’: UK gets ready for the Eurovision party it’s been missing

Ana and Karis Ferguson set up their website, Mission Eurovision, in 2015 as a way to share tips for throwing great Eurovision parties. The site, called itself “the ultimate Eurovision party planner”, includes recipes, bingo, scorecards and drinking games.

“The website has grown every year, and now over 60,000 people view our Eurovision bingo each year,” the sisters, web developers in their 30s and 40s, said.

Every year they celebrate a little differently. In their first year they attended the live semi-finals, but were home in the UK to watch the final with a big group of friends. This year they are putting up some union jack bunting and making cocktails inspired by Sam Ryder, the 32-year-old singer and TikTok star from Essex representing the UK. “For the first time in a while, we are really enjoying the positivity around our entry – so we are proud to show our support,” they said.

The popularity of Mission Eurovision speaks to a growing trend for fans of the international singing competition to get together for screening parties.

Katherine Petty says her Eurovision obsession started properly when the UK won in 1997

Saturday night’s final in Turin marks the first time there are no Covid-imposed restrictions in the UK, so all those who cancelled their parties or had pared-back ones over the past couple of years can finally make up for it.

To top it off, the UK is in with a winning chance this year – after a devastating outcome in 2021 when it received nil points. Ryder, who was selected in a collaboration between the BBC and global music management company TaP Music, will perform his song Space Man, currently the second-favourite to win.

Bars, clubs and cinemas across the UK have organised themed screening parties. In London, places such as the Two Brewers, the Troubadour and Halfway to Heaven have events on. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern has DJs playing Europop hits until 4am.

“It’s difficult to express just how important Eurovision is to many LGBTQ+ people, including a large number of our customers,” James Lindsay, managing director of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, said.

“RVT is home to Eurofest, a bi-monthly Eurovision-themed club night and they are always well attended. Last year we screened the final to a limited, all-seated audience, because of Covid restrictions, but this year we are able to show the final to a full venue, in full party mode complete with Eurofest DJs.”

Ian Screeton from the Troubadour said they were “so happy that we can now finally go ahead with the party and our customers from all over Europe can get together, get dressed up, listen to some music and celebrate Eurovision”.

Other venues hosting Eurovision parties include Grub in Manchester, Camp and Furnace in Liverpool, Eden Bar in Birmingham and the Buttermarket in Shrewsbury.

Tim Wye
‘No cynics allowed’ at Tim Wye’s party

“As big Eurovision fans, the family and I were a bit put out by having our annual cheesy festivities fettered by Covid last year, and totally scuppered the year before,” a primary school teacher, Valdis, 23, said. “2020’s cancellation was an extra kick in the teeth for us: we’re Icelandic, and Daði Freyr’s viral bop was all but a guaranteed win that year.”

The Londoner said his family was excited to be “back with a bang”, with a viewing party attended by guests aged 16-56. “We take our ongoing commentary very seriously, and thanks to the gorgeous bayleaf margaritas I’m sure this will get increasingly scathing – especially towards the ballads (sorry!).”

Katherine Petty, 36, a general manager for Hawksmoor restaurants, said she has been holding Eurovision parties every year since 2005, bar a couple of years where she went to the competition itself. “I’m a big fan of cooking so I make dishes from different countries in Europe which is the centrepiece of the party,” she said.

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There is also what she calls the “usual stuff” – flags, scorecards, drinking games. “The next day is like my Boxing Day – hungover and eating the leftovers, usually with the show on repeat in the background. My obsession with Eurovision started properly in 1997 when UK won, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I can name every winner since 1956 and have loads of random facts in my head. My friends think I’m nuts.”

Tim Wye, 55, a Green party councillor from Bristol, will host about 70 people at his house with two screens for the show – one in the garden and one indoors. There is one strict door policy, he said: “No cynics allowed. You can take the piss a bit but show it the respect it deserves.”

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