Eurovision 2023: Liverpool officially takes over as host city as Rylan and AJ reveal full semi-final draw

Rylan Clark and AJ Odudu were in Liverpool to host the Eurovision 2023 handover.

The logo and slogan have been announced, the Eurovision keys have been handed over by Turin and Liverpool has officially begun its tenure as the host of the 2023 Song Contest, on behalf of Ukraine.

A grand ceremony at St George’s Hall - presented by Rylan Clark and AJ Odudu and broadcast on the BBC - also saw the draw for which countries would compete in which semi-final for the song contest.

The international music show will take place at the 11,000-capacity M&S Arena on Liverpool’s waterfront in Spring, with live semi-finals on May 9 and May 11 before the grand final on May 13.

A total of 37 countries are set to take part in Eurovision this year, with Ukraine automatically qualifying as 2022’s winners as well as the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain - who each get a free pass because of their financial contributions to the event.

It was announced that the 15 countries who will be performing in the first semi-final on May 9 include Ireland, Serbia, Latvia, Norway, Portugal, Croatia, Malta, Sweden, Moldova, Switzerland, Israel, the Netherlands, Finland, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, semi-final two on May 11 will see Armenia, Cyprus, Romania, Denmark, Belgium, Iceland, Greece, Estonia, Albania, Australia, Austria, Lithuania, San Marino, Slovenia, Georgia and Poland go head to head.

Tuesday night’s ceremony, which featured a colour scheme of blue and yellow in honour of Ukraine, opened with welcome speeches by Mayor of Turin Stefano Lo Russo and the mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson.

“Enjoy the event, include everybody, engage the whole city, be proud for such an incredible international stage for you, for Ukraine and for peace,” Mr Lo Russo said.

AJ Odudu and Rylan Clark make the semi-final draw at St George’s Hall. Image: BBC
AJ Odudu and Rylan Clark make the semi-final draw at St George’s Hall. Image: BBC
AJ Odudu and Rylan Clark make the semi-final draw at St George’s Hall. Image: BBC

Ms Anderson added: "I’m really proud to be able to host Eurovision for Liverpool but especially proud to do it on behalf of Ukraine."

The city was chosen to host the competition on behalf of 2022 winners Ukraine due to the Russian invasion.

In a video message, the Mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, said: "I wish that Eurovision in Liverpool, the legendary city of music, will be remembered as a great musical and cultural event. We’ll be watching and cheering."