Harrogate Convention Center not bidding for Eurovision Song Contest return

Eurovision was held at the Harrogate Convention Center when the site opened in 1982.

Several cities and towns have already expressed interest in hosting the event, whose organizers confirmed on Monday that it would not be held in last year’s winner, Ukraine, due to the ongoing war.

But Harrogate Convention Center – which hosted Eurovision in 1982 – has announced it will not submit a bid as the competition has exceeded its capacity.

Organizers from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) say the host venues should be able to accommodate at least 10,000 spectators and 1,500 journalists.

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Yet the convention center auditorium has a capacity of just under 2,000 seats, which was sufficient 40 years ago, but today is well below today’s needs.

A spokesman for the convention center said: “Eurovision 1982 put Harrogate on the map of the world.

“We are very proud of this history and are always delighted to host great events in our beautiful spa town.

“To put it into perspective, 18 countries participated in 1982, and in 2022, 40 countries competed for the awards.

“The scale of Eurovision has more than doubled over the years and naturally it will require a host city with the necessary capacity and infrastructure.”

Included in the candidate cities to host the 2023 event is Leeds which has received support from the Harrogate Convention Centre.

Also in Yorkshire, Sheffield was among the first to announce an entry for the song contest.

The winning country usually hosts the following year’s contest, but the EBU opened talks with the BBC last month after assessing the situation following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The BBC and the EBU said they would review all official approaches and publish a list of candidate cities later this summer.

BBC Director General Tim Davie said it was a “great privilege” to host the music competition, but regretted that Ukraine was unable to host it.

He said the broadcaster would make the event “a true reflection of Ukrainian culture while showcasing the diversity of British music and creativity”.

Martin Österdahl, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, also said: “We know that next year’s contest will showcase the creativity and skills of one of Europe’s most experienced public broadcasters while ensuring that this year’s winners, Ukraine, are celebrated and represented throughout the event.”

Remembering when Harrogate hosted Eurovision – and the future of the city’s convention center

The UK has hosted the Eurovision Song Contest more times than any other nation or country, with seven events in the cities of London, Edinburgh, Brighton and Birmingham since 1960.

But in 1982 it was a major coup for Harrogate which introduced the city’s newly opened convention center to millions across the world.

Germany was crowned European champion in this state-of-the-art venue.

But 40 years later, there are now warnings that the convention center is in “critical need” of an upgrade in order to retain its appeal.

Harrogate Borough Council has proposed a major redevelopment of the site which in total could cost around £47million. Still, there are questions about how it could be funded and plans have yet to be approved by advisers.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Journalist

Laura J. Boyer