Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (10 August) revealed that the region has entered a bid to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Eurovision 2023 was due to take place in Ukraine following the country’s success in last year’s competition however, due to the ongoing conflict in the region, it was agreed that the United Kingdom, as the runner-up, would host it on Ukraine’s behalf.
During a meeting of the Tees Valley Combined Authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Mayor Houchen announced that, if successful, Darlington would welcome the 26 countries taking part in the popular international event in May next year.
It would be supported by a programme of activity taking place right across the region, respecting and celebrating Ukraine and its people, many of whom were forced to flee their homes but who have since found safety and security here.
The bid was put together by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority on behalf of the region and key partners, with the shortlist of potential locations set to be revealed on BBC Radio 2 on Friday.
Mayor Houchen said: “The tragic and shocking conflict that continues to this day in Ukraine has wide-reaching consequences, but Eurovision 2022 galvanised international support and it would be a huge honour for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool – which also stand in solidarity with the country and its people – to host the event their place.
“We may be the underdogs that people frequently underestimate but we’ve consistently proven them wrong by securing the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, Rugby League World Cup 2021, and a raft of international music stars. Whatever the outcome, our bid sets out our stall and shows we have the ambition, facilities, and vision to do things a few years ago we wouldn’t have even thought about.
“In fact, Newcastle has also entered a bid, in which they gave Teesside Airport’s regional and international connectivity as a reason for them to secure the event – highlighting the importance of it.
“If successful, this will help us develop even closer relationships with Ukraine and its communities, while highlighting all our region has to offer on an international stage. Ultimately, though, if we are successful, we’ll deliver a fantastic show that our area, the entire country and – most importantly – Ukraine can be proud of.”
Cllr Jonathan Dulston, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “This is exciting news for Darlington and it has been great to work with Ben to put our bid together.
“I know that Darlington is perfectly suited to host this global event and though I am well aware that it is an outside shot, I think we have a very strong case.
“The airport, the town, and the people make Darlington the perfect place to step up and act as a substitute to Eurovision’s rightful home in Ukraine.
“Yet again we’re working together ambitiously with Ben to push Darlington forward and compete in areas that previously wouldn’t have even been considered.”