Behind the Scenes at the Eurovision Song Contest

woman singing being filmed

For most of us, the Eurovision Song Contest is a show we tune into once a year, one Saturday in May. But the Contest is much more than that.

During the week preceeding that Saturday, two semi-final shows are broadcast (on the Tuesday and Thursday). Two weeks of rehearsals take place beforehand. Eurovision host cities often stage concerts, special events and other celebrations to mark the occasion. Preparations for the show start nearly a year in advance – not least selecting the songs and singers, which usually takes place in the early months of spring.

For some fans, Eurovision is all year round. With films and photographs from cultural heritage instutitions across Europe, let’s go backstage at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Ireland hosts for the first time

Following their win in 1970, Ireland hosted the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in 1971. This film reports from behind-the-scenes the day before the Contest.


Preparations for 1st Eurovision in Ireland, 1971, RTÉ, In copyright via EUscreen | Europeana

Meet the jury

Juries are an important part of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Nowadays, juries are made of 5 people with music industry experience, whose votes are combined with those of us at home. Previously, juries have been made up of a mix of professionals and music fans.

This report from Belgian broadcaster RTBF shows how the Belgian jury vote was arranged for the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest.

Watch this video by clicking this link

Winners interviewed

In 1965, France Gall won the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxembourg. Her song Poupée de cire, poupée de son was composed by renowned French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg and Alain Goraguer.

In this interview, all three speak about their victory in Naples.


France GALL, Serge GAINSBOURG et Alain GORAGUER à propos du Grand Prix de l’Eurovision, 1965, Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, In copyright via Europeana

EXPLORE MORE: Gallery of performers from the Eurovision Song Contest

Ireland’s 3rd victory

This report from behind the scenes of Eurovision 1987 focuses on Ireland, but includes some interesting facts such as that year being the first to include sponsorship to help with the costs of staging the show.

It also includes a humourous look at the UK and Irish delegations who include people with the surnames Wogan, Gogan, Logan, Grogan and Hogan.


Ireland’s 3rd Eurovision Win, 1987, RTÉ, In copyright via EUscreen | Europeana

EXPLORE MORE: Another behind the scenes report from Eurovision 1987 in Brussels

New countries joining

In the early 1990s, in the wake of the fall of the Iron Curtain and the dissolution of Yugoslavia, many countries wanted to compete in Eurovision for the first time. To keep the final to the three-hour timeframe, a pre-qualifying show was held in which 8 countries competed for three places in the final.

Performers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia took part in the show in April 1993, which was staged in Ljubljana.

This report includes rehearsal footage and interviews with performers from the show.


TV JOURNAL 3 01/04/1993, RTVSLO, In copyright via EUscreen | Europeana

Song Festival

In 2010, Norway’s capital city Oslo hosted Eurovision. These photographs show that Eurovision is not just the television show most see, but a festival for those lucky enough to be in the audience.

EXPLORE MORE: See more Eurovision 2010 Oslo photographs

By Adrian Murphy, Europeana Foundation

This blog post is a part of the Europeana Media project, increasing the appeal, visibility, reuse, research and interaction with Europe’s audio-visual heritage.

Feature image: Songfestival, C. de Boer, Zeeuwse Bibliotheek, CC BY-NC

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