The weekend just gone saw me reunited with old uni housemates to finally complete a long-cherished life goal: attend the joy-fest that is the Eurovision Song Contest. Having watched it every year together since the 90s, usually at a themed Eurovision party, this year we finally decided to put our money where our mouths were - and head to Vienna to celebrate the special 60th anniversary.
While obviously kitsch and kooky, and even more so in the flesh, Eurovision is definitely big business these days - and brands should take note. As pumped up as Glastonbury, the first wave of tickets sold out within 20 minutes, with standing-only tickets for the televised finals selling at an extortionate 220 euros. Or you could pick up ‘Gold’ tickets on sites such as Viagogo for over 3,000 euros.
Very much targeting the Pink Pound, EVERY hotel and bar we came across in Vienna was Eurovision themed - with the city welcoming in supporters with gay-friendly traffic lights.
Disappointingly, the Eurovision Village - the proposed central hub for fans - was a complete wash-out due to the relentless rain all week. But for those who did make it (still drenched despite their ponchos) there was the chance to enjoy a coffee and branded photos taken at the tourist info desks from all participating countries.
Those in the know, meanwhile, headed to the ticketed Euro Fan Club in town, filled with fans, press and delegations all day and turning into a night-club later on with live performances from assorted entries.
Seeing as it gave the world ABBA – without doubt the biggest European pop act ever – it was somehow fitting that Sweden won the special 60th anniversary show, care of the very not unattractive Mans Zelmerlow performing Heroes. It will be interesting to see how Sweden takes on the Eurovision baton next year.
And as if realising my Eurovision dream wasn’t enough, I even made it on to the BBC…