Support ESC Insight on Patreon

Questions and Answers: A Guide To Your First Junior Eurovision Written by on December 4, 2022 | 1 Comment

The Junior Eurovision Song Contest is a staple of the EBU calendar. Are you a first-time viewer this year? Ben Robertson explains the what, where, why, how and when of our big, but little, Song Contest.

What is Junior Eurovision?

Junior Eurovision is the little sibling of the Eurovision Song Contest. Junior Eurovision features each participating broadcaster performing a song on stage to the continent in a quest to win the trophy. Just like the Eurovision Song Contest, the winner is the country that receives the most points on the scoreboard.

When did Junior Eurovision begin?

The first Junior Eurovision took place in 2003. That show attracted 16 countries and was held in Copenhagen. Junior Eurovision was an evolution of the show MGP Nordic, held in 2002 between nine songs from Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The immediate success of this collaboration was then put forward as a proposal for the whole of Europe, which became the first Junior Eurovision Song Contest.

When does Junior Eurovision take place?

Junior Eurovision traditionally takes place in the quiet autumn/winter period of the Eurovision season. This timing was useful in 2020 as Junior Eurovision went ahead (albeit mainly by distance) and was one of the first large-scale productions during the coronavirus pandemic;  the springtime Eurovision Song Contest was cancelled that year due to the pandemic’s restrictions. This means that the upcoming edition in Nice is the 21st Junior Eurovision Song Contest. .

This 21st edition in Nice will take place on November 26th. Wise heads amongst you will notice that the date falls on a Sunday, and since 2016 a Sunday afternoon slot has been the tradition. Well, at least it is an afternoon show in Western Europe, but remember this slots it perfectly into primetime in the Eastern reaches of the continent. It will begin at 16:00 CET this year.

Can I Watch The Show?

Absolutely. Viewers in participating nations can watch the show from their participating broadcaster. Note that these might not be the same as for the Song Contest in May. For example, the Irish participant in Junior Eurovision is the Irish language TG4, as opposed to the larger RTÉ who competes in the Eurovision Song Contest. British viewers will find the show on CBBC, the BBC’s decidated channel aiming for a 6-12 year old audience.

Viewers outside the sixteen participating nations can watch online via the official Junior Eurovision YouTube channel.

There is also an Opening Ceremony taking place on Monday 20th November starting at 19:00 CET, which this year is held in the iconic Hotel Negresco.

Why Is It Only Sixteen Countries?

All the broadcasters that are members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) are invited to take part in Junior Eurovision. In its history, there have been 40 different nations that have taken part in the competition, with the smallest editions having 12 countries, expanding to 20 at its maximum in 2018. This means Junior Eurovision is a one-night (ok, afternoon) only affair, with no need for Semi Finals as in May.

Those Scandinavian nations that started it all are no longer in the competition. The reasoning behind their withdrawal is complex. In Sweden’s case, the Contest no longer fitted the goals of their children’s channel, as the target audience then increased from 13-16 years old in 2015. Denmark and Norway still run their own domestic national final equivalents in their home country, but Norway found the pressure on young singers too high, and Denmark believed the competition wasn’t “consistent with the values” that the broadcaster holds.

It is also worth remembering that Junior Eurovision understandably is not the commercial juggernaut that the May offering is, so finances are also a factor in the lower participation rate.

Is This Competition Too Much For The Contestants?

For many, this is the difficult question around the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. For 2023 the EBU has incorporated a stringent Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy, in addition to a Code of Behaviour for this competition. which includes the requirement to create a “morally appropriate” environment, which includes ensuring that the competitive aspect of Junior Eurovision should not be “unduly stressed.”

We at ESC Insight have been on the ground at numerous Junior Eurovision Song Contests. On the whole, from our experience, we have seen that almost every artist has a brilliant time on the ground. In 2015 we followed an artist for a day (who so happened to be Destiny Chukunyere from Malta) and came to the conclusion that “the artists were having the time of their lives”. Yet at the same time, the show has witnessed visibly upset artists and stories of artists rehearsing 7 or 8 hours a day in the quest to achieve millimetre perfection to their routine. It is correct that the duty of care must constantly be top of the agenda so Junior Eurovision does not put undue pressure on these young artists.

Yes, on the whole, Junior Eurovision is a brilliant experience, yet it is very important at this tender age to constantly work to ensure that it is that for all future participants.

How Old Are Junior Eurovision Participants?

As of 2023, the age range of Junior Eurovision artists is from nine to fourteen years old on the day of the Junior Eurovision broadcast. This age range has not been constant and has been as low as eight and as high as fifteen in previous editions.

The most recent change was in 2016 to lower the age limit down from 10 to 15 to 9 to 14. This means that 15-year-olds are not able to take part in any sort of Eurovision, as one must be 16 to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest. In the 2023 edition, the youngest participant is 9-year-old Anastasia Dymyd from Ukraine, whereas the acts from Italy and Malta are both 14 years old.

It is worth noting that this rule applies to all who are on stage in each country’s act, but everybody else behind the scenes (including songwriters) can be older (or in theory younger!). When Junior Eurovision began in 2003 the concept was that the songs should be self-written, but given how hard this was to police this has been quietly dropped in recent years.

What Other Rules Are Different In Junior Eurovision?

The most notable Junior Eurovision rule is to do with the language of each participating song. Each song must be at least 60% written in one of the official languages of the participating broadcaster’s country. A common effect of this rule is that the majority of modern Junior Eurovision entries are bilingual, throwing in different verses in English alongside the artist’s native tongue to make their stories more digestible to global citizens. This year 9 of the 16 entries feature such bilingualism.

Like the modern-day Song Contest, backing vocals are allowed on tape and there is a maximum of six people allowed on stage in each act. It is good to know not to get too excited if your country wins the show either, the rules in Junior Eurovision do not require the winning nation to host the following year. However, since 2018 the winning nation has accepted the challenge of hosting the following year.

How Does The Voting Work?

Voting is similar to the Eurovision Song Contest in the sense that half of the votes are from the general public and half are from expert juries. The make-up of those juries is slightly different at Junior Eurovision, with 2 of the 5 experts required to be between the ages of 10 to 15.

The public vote is very different from the Eurovision Song Contest. Viewers wherever in the world may vote on an online platform and when they vote can choose to support three entries. You may vote before the show (voting this year begins on Friday, two days before the Sunday broadcast) and also in the short voting window after all the songs have been performed in the live show. The score each country gets from the public vote is a percentage of the total points that is converted into a points score. The voting website is

Who Are The Powerhouses of Junior Eurovision?

In terms of victories, Georgia is top of the tree at Junior Eurovision with three victories, with all three winning compositions the work of Giga Kukhianidze, who also wrote ‘Echo‘ which represented the nation in Liverpool this year. One could also argue that Armenia deserve top billing here, they have won twice (including two years ago) and have never finished outside the top ten.

However in modern times, the Polish and French broadcasters are arguably the top dogs has dominated the competition, both finishing in the top 2 in three of the last five years.

Are All The Songs Childish?

They are all child-appropriate, so you won’t get anybody singing about hypnotic booties or wanting lovers to stay the night in this competition. That doesn’t mean the songs aren’t hard-hitting though. War and the quest for peace is a theme of numerous entries this year as much as climate change dominated in 2019.

In terms of style, I would argue the diversity is just as strong as any other Eurovision, and many broadcasters choose songs not just with lyrics in the national identity but also with clear flavours of that country’s musical tradition.

Modern-day winners tend to fall into three categories. Firstly there is the little performer with the huge vocal performance, ‘Got Talent’ style, that impresses us all with vocal ability most adults would struggle to replicate. The winners from 2016 and 2017 would be good examples of this. Secondly, you do get a smattering of adorable entries that have that oh-so-Junior bubblegum feeling, something that was present in both of France’s recent victories.

However the biggest genre in the Junior Eurovision community now are these smash hit, radio-friendly pop songs aimed squarely at the teenage market and perfectly exemplified by the recent Polish and Armenian winners that had legitimate success outside of the Eurovision bubble. Dare I say they would fill the floor at any EuroClub?

Why Would I Want To Watch Kids Singing?

Let’s take a comparison with the global event of today, the World Cup. While FIFA organises this tournament they also organise youth tournaments, the youngest World Cup being for under-17s. Would a football fan watch a youth World Cup tournament?

Viewership is understandably less for the younger tournaments, but the answer is yes. Ultimately a football match is still a football match. Yet at this level of sport, we have to remember that winning isn’t the big driving motivation that it would be as one progresses to the adult level. The experience to play well and play together is of more importance to building those teams of the future.

That should be the same here. Sure the voices might be pre-pubescent, the lyrical themes less outlandish and the intense pressure is off in regards to the scoreboard. Yet this experience is undoubtedly the best way to practice being a Eurovision star that exists on the planet. Much like the under-17 World Cup has witnessed Neymar, Andres Iniesta and Toni Kroos make their debut on the world stage en route to becoming global stars, Junior Eurovision’s twenty years is bringing us many Eurovision stars as they grow up and become the next generation. That is something worth embracing.

The Junior Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Nice, France on Sunday 26th November, starting at 16:00 CET. Follow us at ESC Insight to keep up to date with our analysis and interviews on the ground in France all the way through rehearsals to the live show.

About The Author: Ben Robertson

Ben Robertson has attended 23 National Finals in the world of Eurovision. With that experience behind him he writes for ESC Insight with his analysis and opinions about anything and everything Eurovision Song Contest that is worth telling.

Read more from this author...

You Can Support ESC Insight on Patreon

ESC Insight's Patreon page is now live; click here to see what it's all about, and how you can get involved and directly support our coverage of your Eurovision Song Contest.

If You Like This...

Have Your Say

One response to “Questions and Answers: A Guide To Your First Junior Eurovision”

  1. Martin says:

    Ben, great summary article – one question that I haven’t easily found an answer to is about the ages of singers. Why is 15 considered too old for JESC now, which of course means that a singer of that age has to wait until 16 for ESC?

    It has led to the situation in Portugal where their ‘National Final winner’ who won as a 14 yr old cannot go to Yerevan as they are now 15…

Leave a Reply