Focus 2017: Kharkiv

Welcome back to our series where we look at the cities vying to host Eurovision 2017! At the end of the last article, we said that we would cover Kyiv in the next article, however since then, we’ve had a bit of a surprise! Since last week, most cities have formally bid to host Eurovision 2017, meaning that cities such as Vinnytsia, Irpin and Uzhhorod are gradually becoming less and less likely to make an impressive bid, if they formally bid at all. This is all very exciting isn’t it? ……Or is that just me?

To those who are joining us now; as we all know, Post-Eurovision Depression and the following “off-season” can be very draining and dull. However, here at ESC Views, we like to analyse the pros and cons of the various cities that are bidding to host Eurovision the following year, as the host city race rages on. In 2017, thanks to Jamala, we’re going to be on our way eastwards to Ukraine for next year’s Eurovision Song Contest, but where is exactly is yet to be seen. At the time of writing this, at least eight cities throughout Ukraine have thrown their hat into the ring for hosting Europe’s favourite TV show –  and who could blame them? Eurovision brings in more than double the (sometimes exacerbated) price tag of around €15 million (see here for numerical amounts in GBP, USD and UAH for the monetary amount of other currencies) in revenue for the city that has the pleasure of hosting such a grand event.

In previous editions of this series, we would look at all the cities vying to host Eurovision in that year. However, for this edition, we’re going to focus on the cities that have a realistic chance of hosting the Contest. In this series so far, we have looked at Central Ukraine in Dnipro, Southern Ukraine in Odessa and Western Ukraine in Lviv. This time, instead of taking you to the capital, we’re going to go to the north east of the country as we go to Kharkiv.

Kharkiv is Ukraine’s second city, now the current easternmost bid to host Eurovision.

Unfortunately, what I made out in the Dnipro article now turns out to be false, as the city is no longer the easternmost city vying to stage Europe’s favourite TV show. That (somewhat unnerving) title goes to Kharkiv. The city is the second largest city in Ukraine, housing a massive 1.5 million people, a mere 40 kilometres from the Russian border and 411 kilometres from the capital, Kyiv. The city was the Ukrainian capital for roughly around 18 years, when Ukraine was integrated into the Soviet Union, but was moved to Kyiv in 1935. The general closeness to the Russian border may be a little scary for Eurovision fans due to the lingering conflict between the two countries. However, Kharkiv have declared the city is safe enough to host the Contest without a hitch. The most defining feature of the city would have to be the Cathedral of the Annunciation. Its striped brickwork is characteristic of the Russian Empire era in which it was constructed. It features an 80-metre high bell tower which rings out across the city, attracting the various Orthodox Church members in Kharkiv. It has definitely become one of the most recognisable feature of Kharkiv’s skyline.

Kharkiv was quiet throughout the entire preliminary bidding process, not even expressing an interest from the beginning to host the competition. The city, however, officially threw its hat in the ring last week, becoming the fifth city to officially make a bid in the race to host Eurovision. Should Kharkiv get the chance to host Eurovision, they have revealed that they will host the two semi-finals and the final in the Metalist Oblast Sports Complex – or what many football fans may know it as – the Metalist Stadium. Home to the eponymous Metalist Kharkiv football team, the stadium has a capacity of 40,003 for football matches, but this will be substantially reduced should Eurovision be staged there. The stadium played host to three group stage matches at the UEFA Euro 2012 Championships. The city also is home to an international airport, flying to destinations around Eastern Europe and the Middle East, with handy connecting flights from Kyiv-Boryspil, so delegations and fans should be able to reach Kharkiv fairly easily.

So what are Kharkiv’s chances of hosting Eurovision next year? It is a strong bid from Ukraine’s second city, that’s for sure! It is also one of only two bids where the desired venue has already been confirmed. If Eurovision goes to Kharkiv, as it would with nearly every other named arena, a roof will have to be constructed on the top of the Metalist Stadium – once it’s on, the Contest will be happily staged in one of the largest arenas it has ever taken place in. The city itself is rich in culture, with a good blend of old meets new, Ukraine meets Russia and the city is sometimes known as a bit of a hub for foodies. People looking to enjoy a mixture of Russia and Ukraine will definitely be campaigning for Kharkiv to get the Eurovision, although it seems likely that due to the close proximity of the city to Russia, some fans may not enjoy being so close. Nevertheless, it is a strong bid with a suitable arena (minus a roof, for now) and a large city with a reasonable size of accommodation for the thousands of fans and journalists. Good luck Kharkiv, you’re going to need it!

That is what we think about Kharkiv’s chances of hosting Eurovision, but is that your opinion? We’d love to hear what you think about the city’s bid for hosting the Contest and if you think Kharkiv should host Europe’s favourite TV show. Be sure to let us know your thoughts by commenting below, or by voting in our poll as to which city you think should host Eurovision. The poll will close on August 1st, as that is the date when the host city will be chosen and we can see if you were correct in your predictions! And be sure to stay tuned to ESC Views, as we ACTUALLY cover the last city in our series – the highest likely city to host Eurovision; the capital, KYIV.

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