The Lisbon Oceanarium which is located beside next year’s Eurovision Song Contest venue played host to RTP’s latest press conference on November 7th. Three big announcements were promised, and by the end of the presentation and the question and answer session that followed, a lot more detail about the 2018 Song Contest was confirmed.
Who’s Coming To Lisbon?
The EBU revealed that – as of now – 42 countries will be competing in May, with Russia returning from their absence in Kyiv 2017 and Macedonia not included in the official entry list due to the broadcaster being suspended from EBU activities due to outstanding payments (although the country will still be represented at this month’s Junior Eurovision). A similar issue forced Romania to sit out the Stockholm 2016, but at least the Macedonian broadcaster MRT has been given sufficient notice and had not chosen an entry, as happened with Romania.
In subsequent interviews, the EBU’s Executive Supervisor for the Eurovision Song Contest, Jon Ola Sand indicated that discussions with MRT were ongoing, which suggests that if a solution can be reached Macedonia will compete in Lisbon after all. A final decision over the Macedonian entry is likely to be made early in the New Year, before the Semi Final allocation draw takes place.
Can I Be In The Audience?
The second piece of information that many who are planning to attend next year’s Song Contest were waiting for was news of the ticket sale. It was confirmed that tickets would be put on sale to the general public later this month, through the normal online sales process.
The exact date for the ticket sale has still to be confirmed.
OGAE, the long-established unofficial fan club of the Contest, has also been working with the organisers to arrange the traditional ticket packages for all the live shows and jury finals. It is believed that demand for these packages is the highest it has been for several years with the Irish branch of OGAE already confirming an increase of over 250 percent compared to the demand in 2017. The return of Russia and the proximity of the contest to Western Europe are also likely to drive a higher demand for tickets.
What To Look For
Most of the attention in the press conference focussed on the theme art, logo and slogan for the 2018 contest. As RTP had previously announced, there will be a nautical theme to the first Contest to be staged on Europe’s Atlantic coast. The slogan of “All Aboard” avoids a repeat of the accusations of misplaced political correctness that dogged 2017’s “Celebrate Diversity” although the blurb explaining the 2018 logo and slogan does refer to the Song Contest’s mission to demonstrate Europe’s musical diversity.
The logo with an aquatic theme designed by local artist Nicolau Tudela comes with one main design and twelve alternatives, reflecting the famous douze points, the apex of achievement at the Eurovision Song Contest. The variety of the images is supposedly associated with the diversity of the people who make up the Contest, as well as the diversity of songs, in a multicultural and multi-ethnic festival. These images will be rolled out on posters throughout Lisbon during the build-up to the contest and are to be used in the merchandise for the event.
It is also likely that they will be incorporated into the stage and television imagery in May, and the prominence of the seashell should be noted.
RTP did not disclose any of details of show itself at the press conference although there was a revelation that a broad net is being cast in the search for presenters and that candidates associated with rival broadcasters may be considered, but only those who are Portuguese.
Other information that was revealed in the press conference was that the Red Carpet event would become a Blue Carpet, in line with the aquatic theme. The location is outside the centre of Lisbon in the coastal area of Belém, The venue for this welcome event on May 6th is the MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology) which opened in 2016. The stunning building which is covered in white ceramic was designed by British architect Amanda Levete and the white stone roof functions as a public park. However as it hugs the northern shoreline of the Tagus, it takes on a totally different colour scheme in the evening as the sunset is reflected on the building, turning it to a glorious golden colour.
The site of the Eurovision village was also confirmed and as expected the iconic downtown Praça do Comércio (Commercial Plaza) will be taken over by the Eurovision Song Contest from Friday 4th to Sunday 13th May. Events will take from 4pm to 11pm every day and on show nights it is planned that the Song Contest will be broadcast on big screens. This beautiful historic square is the perfect alternative for those unable to get tickets for the Arena. As of yet, the venue for the Euroclub and the Eurocafe have still to be finalised, although it is though that the Contest will be spread to locations throughout the city.
While not announced at the press conference, RTP has already started work on the postcards that will fill the slots between the songs. Portuguese Tourism has been brought on-board to select sites around the country that show off the diverse attractions of the country, especially highlighting the aquatic theme. As well as the Portuguese mainland, Madeira and the Azores, an island group in the mid-Atlantic are like to be showcased to television viewers.
As has happened in recent years, the EBU and various support services will be lending a helping hand to the host broadcaster. Once again, Swede Christer Björkman will be involved in elements of the staging and production, although RTP has made it clear that the shows will have a unique Portuguese flavour.
The fact that so much information about next year’s Eurovision Song Contest is already known is a testament to one of Europe’s most successful and long standing broadcasters. Lisbon 2018 is taking shape, six months before the shows begin.