Eurovision 2023: who is competing in song contest semi finals - Sweden grouped with Ireland

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Eurovision is set to hit Liverpool in May, but before the big grand final there are the matter of semi finals to get through

It’s almost that time of the year again - the Eurovision Song Contest is just around the corner. Love or hate the yearly song competition, you may find it difficult to avoid the hype this year as it hits the UK for the first time since 1998.

While there are still a few months off until the big night itself, preparations have begun early. In late 2022, we found out that Liverpool had been chosen to host the huge event, beating out the likes of Glasgow and Manchester for the honour.

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The UK placed second in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest behind Ukraine, with the Sam Ryder’s popular hit SPACEMAN. However, while Ukraine would traditionally take up hosting duting, the current war with Russia has ruled out the show being beamed across Europe from Kyiv.

Before the big night itself, some of the countries taking part will need to book their place in the final. The allocations for the semi-final has taken place, with presenters AJ Odudu and Rylan Clark hosting the allocation and handover ceremony in Liverpool on 31 January.

But which countries are competing in what semi final - and when is the semi finals taking place? Here’s everything you need to know.

What countries are taking part in Semi-Final 1?

Semi Final 1 will see 15 countries compete for a place in the Eurovision 2023 grand final. Those countries are:

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  • Serbia
  • Latvia
  • Ireland
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Croatia
  • Malta
  • Sweden
  • Moldova
  • Switzerland
  • Israel
  • The Netherlands
  • Finland
  • Azerbaijan
  • Czech Republic

Which countries are taking part in Semi-Final 2?

The second semi final will take place two day after the first show. The 16 countries allocated to semi final 2 are:

  • Armenia
  • Cyprus
  • Romania
  • Denmark
  • Belgium
  • Iceland
  • Greece
  • Estonia
  • Albania
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Lithuania
  • San Marino
  • Slovenia
  • Georgia
  • Poland

Why does the UK not compete in the Eurovision semi-finals?

The UK and a handful of other countries will not need to go through the stress of actually having to secure their place in the main show. This is because the UK is part of what is known as the ‘Big Five’.

This is a group of countries which contribute the most financially to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organises the Eurovision Song Contest each year. Alongside the UK, also included in the group is France, Spain, Italy and Germany.

Also, there is a tradition that the host nation is given a confirmed grand final place and does not compete in the semi-finals. So this means that more than likely, each year there are six countries guarranteed a place before the competition kicks off.

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However, if one of the ‘Big Five’ countries win, an additional place is not given to another country - only the five spaces are confirmed. In 2023, the UK will be hosting the competition, but on behalf of Ukraine, which won the 2022 contest with Kalush Orchestra. Ukraine have therefore also be given a confirmed grand final place.

When are the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 semi-finals taking pace?

Although all eyes are on Eurovision on the grand final Saturday night slot, the spectacle goes on for much longer. The semi-finals are held in the week leading up to the big Saturday night show.

The semis are usually held on the Tuesday and Thursday before the grand final. This year, semi-final one will take place on Tuesday 9 May, while semi-final two will take place on Thursday 11 May.

The semi-finals will be available to watch through the BBC. The grand final show is set to be shown live from the M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool on 13 May.

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