So, perhaps this year your annual Eurovision party was a bust or they’re getting a bit samey. Maybe you’re fed up of watching Eurovision alone. Perchance you just want an excuse to travel and see Europe. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided that you’re not going to sit at home watching the event unfold on the BBC, having your experience influenced by the sarcastic tones of Graham Norton (We love you really Graham!). You want to immerse yourself in the frivolity and hype surrounding the contest and maybe even bump into some of the famous faces. You’ve decided that you’re going to make your way to the host country in May for the Eurovision Song Contest 2018. But where to start? Here’s our HelloEurope guide to preparing for Your Trip to Eurovision.
Book your Time off Work
It may sound obvious but booking time off work can be fraught with challenges. Booking in advance provides you with plenty of time to save for and arrange your trip, but booking too early may see you attending at the wrong time. We know that every year ESC occurs in May. The provisional dates for the 2017 competition were released in March 2016 but were changed in June 2016 to avoid a conflict with a Ukrainian Remembrance Day, meaning that the contest took place a week earlier than originally planned.
Again booking in advance can be the best way to ensure you get cheap flights. However, being flexible with times and dates can be beneficial. SkyScanner is a great place to start. Here you can compare flight prices from a variety of airlines as well as easily see on which days the cheapest flights are.
Here there are lots of options depending on your budget. Here at HelloEurope we are huge fans of renting a private apartment in the city. We used AirB&B and this has worked out well for us over the last 3 years in Austria, Sweden and Ukraine. Not only do you get a private, homely, comfortable place to stay for you and your travel buddies but the hosts are usually really great giving lots of helpful local advice that can enhance your stay.
Get your Eurovision Tickets
Now this can be challenging to say the least. Joining OAGE in your country (e.g. OAGE UK) can, most years, increase your chance of getting hold of a ticket for the live shows. Tickets usually go on sale towards the end of the year, in November/December time. However, this year there were problems and the ticket release was delayed by 2-3 months. Tickets can only be purchased through the official agency that has been dedicated by the national broadcaster of the host city. Every year there are complaints about the website crashing and difficulty with the processing of payments. (BUT DON’T LET the perceived incompetence of the ticket seller put you off, it’ll all be worth it in the end!)
It’s now time to think about how you’re going to get to the airport. This will depend on the times of the flights and your individual preferences. It may be cost effective to book a taxi especially if there are a few of you travelling together. If you’re flying from one of the main airports, you might consider trains or buses. At HelloEurope we’ve found driving to the airport has been a great way to start the excursion. This approach provides that little bit of autonomy but the cost of fuel and airport parking must be considered.
In our opinions, the trip officially starts at the airport.
If you dislike (or even hate) sitting around at airports, fighting for a seat and paying exorbitant prices for a Boots Meal Deal or a Latte from Costa Coffee (other establishments are available). Don’t rule out the possibility of paying to attend an airport lounge. While in the past I’ve always assumed that a lounge would be expensive, in most of the larger airports, the cost is not prohibitive. They usually provide complimentary food and drinks (including alcohol), complimentary Wi-Fi and a comfortable place to park your bum all within a quiet and relaxing environment. Go on, treat yourself! You’re totally worth it!
If you (like our columnist Steph) consider yourself as a bit of a planner, you’ll want to fit as much into your trip as possible. Alongside the Eurovision excitement, don’t forget to take the opportunity to visit the sites on offer. If you are so inclined and want to make the most of your trip, it’s so easy these days to use Google or TripAdviser to find out about the interesting things on offer in the host country. But you don’t have to limit yourself to this…in this time of social media, connecting with people who actually live (or have lived) in the city has never been easier. It’s a great way to get personal, grassroots and up-to-date information about the highlights of the host city. This way, your experience will be unique to you and your friends.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Once you have decided on the things you want to see and do, it’s a great idea to plan your routes. This can easily be done on GoogleMaps. Our trip to Kyiv involves only one “free day” (with no Eurovision related activities), so in order to maximise our exposure to Kyiv Steph has created a jam packed itinerary. If you’re not much of a planner or don’t have time to prepare, doing things on a wing and a prayer can work too. This approach will make things feel more natural, organic and spontaneous. At HelloEurope we just really don’t want to miss out on anything!
Get your Outfit Sorted
If you’re going to Eurovision, you’ll need a way to show your support for your country (or favourite artist). Flags are a traditional way to do this, however, in some arenas large flags are forbidden – you don’t want to obscure the view of your follow revellers or the TV cameras for those at home. So…how about a Eurovision related t-shirt. There are loads of options at RedBubble. Alternatively, you can always make your own, like we did. Some of our favourites have been created by LazarusHeart and MiniPopIcons.
Finally – EuroClub Tickets
This is an area set up for Eurovision fans to congregate, refresh and potentially meet some of the artists. You never know who you’ll bump into! The Euroclub is open during the day and well into the night for those party animals amongst you.
We hope this guide has helped and inspired you to consider joining us in 2018, whichever city is hosting. Feel free to contact us if you want more information.