So, it would be fitting for Yorkshire’s Ukrainian community – who have built their lives here in Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield and have helped us to open our arms to offer solidarity, support and shelter to families fleeing the war – to get the honour of hosting Eurovision in their name.
Today is Ukraine’s independence day, but sadly also six months since the start of this brutal war. So it is a poignant moment where we can reflect on the courage of the Ukrainian people and show our solidarity with them.
I was filled with excitement and joy when I heard that Leeds had been shortlisted to host next year’s Eurovision. We certainly know how to put on a party. And it would be incredible for the city to welcome the colour, the creativity, the fun, and the festival of music that is Eurovision during its year of culture in 2023. Darkness must not be allowed to win.
We will do this with our Ukrainian community front and centre – in a display of solidarity. Staging a successful Eurovision event would be a great show of support and a fitting tribute to the bravery and resilience of their homeland. As a city whose people pride themselves on openness and tolerance, there’s no doubt that Leeds would do a world-class job as host city in 2023.
Leeds is an amazing place which is bursting at the seams with vibrant creativity. The city has a rich musical heritage – from the Kaiser Chiefs to Spice Girl Mel B. And Brotherhood of Man’s Sandra Stevens, who went on to Eurovision glory in 1976. You can’t deny the city has been the birthplace of so many bands and artists who have gone on to rock the world. It is also home to the Leeds Conservatoire – supporting the artists of tomorrow. Chantel McGregor, from The Prodig graduated from the Leeds College of Music as it used to be known with a string of distinctions and a first-class degree in Popular Music. Whether you’re looking back or to the future, we have so much to be proud of.
Leeds lives and breathes music and would give a massive West Yorkshire welcome to all the artists and performers who come to participate in Eurovision. You only have to cast your mind back ‘Le Grand Depart’ when the city hosted the launch of Tour de France in 2014. There will be unrivalled enthusiasm and the event would create a buzz that would reverberate across the North and beyond. It would lift spirits, create an irresistible feel-good factor, and make us prouder than ever of the place we live in and are lucky to call home.
Hosting Eurovision in Leeds will have big economic benefits, too. For a start, the tens of thousands of fans who come here would spend money in our hotels, bars and restaurants.
The city and surrounding areas would be booming. That would be great news for our hospitality sector and create a big, positive commercial boost in the city and the wider region.
Leeds has long been a destination for musical icons and has a track record of attracting stars on their world tours. Back in the 1980s, Roundhay Park hosted Michael Jackson, Madonna and Genesis. Forty years later, 150 000 fans watched Ed Sheeran in that same park. And then there’s the annual August bank holiday Leeds Festival, which brings international headliners and revellers from across the North and beyond.
Hosting Eurovision would help us shout from the rooftops that Leeds and our entire region is a fantastic cultural destination and that we are the perfect hosts for more major events like this.
We want them and we can do them justice. We already have Bradford City of Culture 2025 on the calendar and before that Kirklees Festival of Music in 2023. There’s also Leeds’s own cultural festival in 2023.
Leeds always shines when on the global stage, and if it became the host city for Eurovision 2023 the entire region would get behind this. We are talking to our partners and exploring how we can work together to make sure we put forward the best possible case for that.
This will be a contest that goes down in history as both a musical celebration and a symbol of respect and support to the Ukrainian people.
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