June 24, 2024

Eurovision Song Contest: History of the ESC – From Victory Ceremony to Mega Event

Eurovision Song Contest

History of ESC: From Hit Show to Mega Event

Eurovision Song Contest: These Artists Thanks to the ESC

Eurovision Song Contest: These Artists Thanks to the ESC

ESC as a catalyst for a great career: It worked for these stars.

Show explanation

World stars such as ABBA and Céline Dion competed in the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). The success story of the singing program at a glance.


  • Started as a pop song competition in 1956, the ESC has blossomed into a mega event.
  • The Eurovision Song Contest, formerly known as the Grand Prix, is now the world’s biggest music festival
  • Read about the history of the tournament here

In 2023, what they claim is “the world’s oldest televised international music competition” will take place for the 67th time: Eurovision Song Contest. The 37 ESC participating countries will convince with pop songs, flamenco melodies or metal rock between May 9 and 13, 2023 in Liverpool. In its early years, the ESC, originally created as a hit song competition, was far from the colorful variety that still characterizes the singing competition today. A glimpse into history.

At the first ESC in 1956 only seven participating countries competed against each other

The origins of the Eurovision Song Contest date back to 1955. Head of Program Committee European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Marcel Bezençon, suggested at the time that a European pop music competition should be held. Held annually since 1951, the Sanremo Festival, Italy’s most important music festival, served as a model. A European singing program aims to strengthen cross-border cooperation between television stations.

A year later – in 1956 – the first happened ESC In Lugano, Switzerland – at that time still under the name “Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne”. Only seven countries competed against each other: Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Italy. The first winner came from the host country – Lies Asia won for Switzerland with the title “Refrain”.

In the first year of the event, there is no rule that the winning country will host the tournament the following year. That is why the second ESC was held in Frankfurt am Main. In the years to come, many countries became more interested in it Singing performance, so the number of participants should be limited as soon as possible. Individual preliminary decisions were taken in this regard.

Five countries – including Germany – do not have to take part in ESC prelims

As the number of applications continued to increase, a new procedure was introduced in 1996, in which an internal jury from all participating countries pre-selected. When the German contribution was eliminated by this new arbitration, Germany threatened Competition No longer funded. As a result, the EBU, the organizer of the ESC, decided that the five countries that pay the most to the ESC would no longer have to participate in prelims from 1999.

This restriction is still valid today. The so-called “The big five“They are:

  • Germany
  • France
  • England
  • Spain
  • Italy

Also, the tournament host has qualified for the finals. Since 2008 all other participating countries have had two Semi-final performances The ten best placed acts will qualify for the finals. Saturday evening’s finale has now been watched by more than 180 million viewers. read more: This is how Germany – FRG have been working in the ESC for years

Countries Participating in the ESC: Beyond European Borders

The Eurovision Song Contest is far from pure European competition And all EBU states are eligible to participate. The official website states: “Since membership in the EBU is not strictly bound to geographical criteria, broadcasters located outside Europe can also participate. That is why the competition is not the European Song Contest, as it is often incorrectly called.

A total of 56 countries in Europe, North Africa, the Far East and Australia are currently eligible to participate in the ESC. Apart from the Vatican and Liechtenstein, all European countries have participated in the ESC to date. Right Australia Since 2015, Australia has been participating as a “special guest”, due to the show’s huge popularity in the country. The table shows which countries have been particularly successful in the ESC over the years.

These are the countries that won the Eurovision Song Contest


Number of hits

Last victory



1996 (Eimear Quinn with “The Voice”)



2015 (Mans Zelmarlo with “Heroes”)

United Kingdom


1997 (“Love Shine a Light” with Katerina and the Waves)



1977 (Marie Miriam with “L’oiseau et l’enfant”)



2019 (Duncan Lawrence with “Arcade”)



1983 (“Si la vie est cadeau” with Corinne Hermès)

Starting in 2022, there will be a solo singing competition in the United States

In addition to the ESC, there is the “Junior Eurovision Song Contest” since 2003. The Eurovision Song Contest has also been held twice (2007 and 2008). ESC is also very popular in America, so in 2022 “American Song Contest‘ was launched as the American version of ESC. All 50 US states compete against each other.

Throughout its history, the Eurovision Song Contest has produced many stars who are world-renowned today. ABBA celebrated their breakthrough with “Waterloo” at the ESC in 1974, and Celine Dion also launched her career with her entry for Switzerland in 1988. We’ve compiled for you ESC winners over the years.

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