The Eurovision final in Liverpool has begun - with last year's winning act returning Kalush Orchestra to perform Stefania one more time.
The voting has closed. The lines were open during the interval which saw Eurovision performers from the past return.
The full line-up of acts competing to lift the iconic glass microphone on Saturday (13 May) night has now been confirmed after the second semi-final. Albania, Estonia, Belgium, Austria, Lithuania, Armenia, Slovenia, Poland, Australia and Cyprus were it through after winning over the public on Thursday (11 May).
It comes as President Zelensky was blocked from addressing the Eurovision Song Contest final over fears it could politicise the event. The Ukrainian leader wanted to make an unexpected video appearance in Liverpool and it was expected he would implore the event’s global audience of millions to continue backing his country in its fight to repel its Russian invaders.
But the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), an alliance of 112 member organisations which organises the annual contest along with the host broadcaster, which this year is the BBC, has refused. The EBU’s management team said Zelensky had “laudable intentions” but that “regrettably” his request was against the rules. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will strike on Saturday – the day of the Eurovision Song Contest final in Liverpool. Passengers are being urged to check before they travel.
Follow the latest updates, reaction and memes from the NationalWorld team in our Eurovision final live blog below.
Live updates from Eurovision in Liverpool
Eurovision final line-up confirmed
The second semi-final took place in Liverpool on Thursday - and it saw 10 more acts make it through to the Grand Final this weekend.
The Big 5 were automatically in the event on Saturday - but the rest of the acts had to qualify.
Zelensky barred from addressing the final
President Zelensky has been barred from addressing the Eurovision Song Contest final because an alliance of international broadcasters fears it could politicise the event.
A spokesperson for the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) explained: "The Eurovision Song Contest is an international entertainment show and governed by strict rules and principles which have been established since its creation. As part of these, one of the cornerstones of the contest is the non-political nature of the event.
“This principle prohibits the possibility of making political or similar statements as part of the contest.
“The request by Mr Zelensky to address the audience at the Eurovision Song Contest, whilst made with laudable intentions, regrettably cannot be granted by the European Broadcasting Union management as it would be against the rules of the event.”
Ukrainian artist who fled to Liverpool sees Eurovision design on display
A Ukrainian artist who fled the country following the war has seen her Eurovision design displayed in Liverpool.
Mariana Potetenko, 45, fled Kyiv last June, with her two daughters and dog, and came to Liverpool, which is hosting this year’s song contest on behalf of Ukraine.
She answered a call to artists for Eurovision-themed shop window art after taking part in a digital design skills bootcamp, funded by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
Her design, which features last year’s winners Kalush Orchestra and UK entrant Sam Ryder, has gone on display in the city’s Bold Street, outside the Lyceum building, for the tens of thousands of Eurovision fans visiting the city to see.
Hannah Waddingham stuns in canary yellow dress
Actress Hannah Waddingham showcases a myriad of sensational outfits during Eurovision Song Contest as she co-hosts with Alesha Dixon and Julia Sanina.
But who designed her outfit - and which designer could she wear next?
PM 'disappointed' Zelensky has been blocked from Eurovision final
From NationalWorld's new politics editor Tom Hourigan
Rishi Sunak is “disappointed” in the decision of the European broadcasting union, Downing Street has said, after it was reported Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was blocked from addressing Eurovision. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister believes it would be fitting for President Zelensky to address the event and we’re disappointed by the decision from the European broadcasting union. “The values and freedoms that President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine are fighting for are not political, they’re fundamental, and Eurovision themselves recognised that last year when they rightly suspended Russia’s participation from the competition.” There are no plans to intervene and ask broadcasters to change their mind, Downing Street suggested.
Australia's place at Eurovision explained
Australia wowed audiences during the second semi final last night, with Voyager's 80s rock song Promise.
It's the eighth time the country has competed in the contest, with its seventh qualification now confirmed.
But the country's place at the traditionally European competition raises questions every year. You can read more about the reason Australia takes part in Eurovision here.
Police seize drone flown above Liverpool
Merseyside Police has seized a drone which was flown in a restricted area around the city centre in Liverpool.
The drone was allegedly piloted by a man in his 30s, who has now been spoken to by officers after being made aware of the item at around 10pm last night.
Restrictions have seen drones banned from being flown in the city centre area during the Eurovision festivites.
Chief Inspector Stephen Hardy said that the swift response from Merseyside officers demonstrated "excellent detection work", with the largest police operation in Liverpool in decade currently ongoing.
He added: “Please be mindful that airspace restrictions will remain in place until Sunday and if we suspect a drone is being flown in the restricted area then we will take action.
“If you commit an offence and fly a drone within the restricted area without permission, your equipment will be seized and confiscated.
“Our policing plans for the Eurovision Song Contest take land, sea and air into consideration and these airspace restrictions, just like other security measures such as road closures or patrols on the River Mersey, are aimed at keeping people safe."
Analysis: who will win Eurovision 2023 - and who should win the contest
Eurovision fans across the world are getting ready to start making their predictions ahead of the grand final on Saturday.
Bookies still have Sweden as favourite, with others slowly rising up the ranks to ensure it's a close contest.
NationalWorld reporter and self-confessed Eurovision devotee Heather Carrickhas broken down the heavy hitters on the night and the moments you need to look out for as the party hits Liverpool.
'Cha Cha Cha!' What Finland's bonkers song's lyrics are in English
He's captured the attention of Europe with his bizarrely catch tune 'Cha Cha Cha' and now Finland's Käärijä will be hoping to wow audiences once again on Saturday night.
The performer will buck the trend of singing in English, instead choosing to perform his entire song in Finnish (along with a few chants of cha cha cha).
But what do the lyrics mean? Here's everything you need to know about the meaning behind Cha Cha Cha.
Graham Norton: EBU rule with 'iron first' after Zelensky decision
Eurovision host Graham Norton has described the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) as ruling "with an iron first" after it barred Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky from making an appearance at Saturday's Eurovision final.
The popular Eurovision commentator will be taking the stage to host the event on Saturday, but said that he had no involvement in the decision to not let the Ukrainian leader speak during the event.
At a press conference, he said: "As far as I know, it’s an EBU decision and, as we know, the EBU, they rule with an iron fist so what they say goes."