When is Eurovision 2024? Countdown to semi-final 1 begins

There is growing tension over Israel's participation in this year’s competition

Tonight’s the night. Eurovision 2024 is officially kicking off this evening, with the first semi-final round in Sweden

UK entrant Olly Alexander has been working hard preparing for his first live, high-energy performance of the song Dizzy. 

While he’s already made the final, Alexander will be performing this evening to give audiences a taste of what to expect. 

A further 15 other countries will compete this evening to join him at the grand show on Saturday night. Ten of tonight’s best performances will proceed to the grand final. 

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest has been mired in controversy over Israel being allowed to compete despite the conflict in Gaza. 

Finnish artists had previously been calling for Israel to be banned from this year’s Eurovision over "war crimes", and Alexander also signed an open letter accusing Israel of genocide

Demonstrations will likely occur during the event, but Swedish police have reassured guests that security has been tightened to ensure the show runs smoothly. 

Eurovision organisers appear to have taken steps to reduce any demonstrations, reportedly claiming they reserve the right to remove Palestinian flags from being brought into the arena. 

Eurovision Song Contest UK entry Olly Alexander
Corinne Cumming / EBU / PA

When is Eurovision 2024?

The Eurovision Song Contest takes place across several days, with artists competing in the two semi-finals and the grand final.

The first semi-final will take place tonight and the second on Thursday, May 9.

The grand final will be on Saturday, May 11.

Where will Eurovision 2024 take place?

Given that the 2023 winner was Swedish singer Loreen with the song Tattoo, this year's contest will be held in Sweden.

Organisers have decided that the host city will be Malmö, Sweden's third-largest city. It will be the third time that the coastal city in the south of Sweden has hosted the competition.

Organisers selected the city after evaluating its venue facilities and accommodation availability. This was due to the influx of thousands of visitors who flock to Eurovision's host city.

Sweden has won the song contest an impressive seven times, with the pop supergroup Abba being the country's most notable entry. It previously hosted the contest in Stockholm (1975, 2000, 2016), in Malmö (1992, 2013) and once in Gothenburg (1985).

The executive supervisor of Eurovision, Martin Osterdahl, said of the decision to hold the event in Malmö again: “Malmö holds a special place in the history of the contest, having successfully hosted it firstly in 1992 and then in 2013 – following Loreen’s last win.

“We’re excited to be returning to this vibrant and dynamic city, which has demonstrated it has the venues and infrastructure that are perfect for staging the world’s largest live music event.”

Tension ahead of this year’s Eurovision

An exterior view of the Malmö Arena in Malmö, Sweden
Johan Nilsson / TT News Agency via AP

Reports have suggested that this year’s Eurovision could be the most tense yet as events continue to unfold surrounding Irsael’s shelling of Occupied Palestinian Territories. 

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) previously released a statement highlighting the emergence of “targeted social media campaigns” aimed at some of its competitors. 

Acknowledging the tense nature of this year’s competition amid the conflict in Gaza, the statement shed light on the online abuse and harassment that some competitors have already faced. 

“The European Broadcasting Union acknowledges the depth of feeling and the strong opinions that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest – set against the backdrop of a terrible war in the Middle East – has provoked,” the statement said. 

The EBU then defended its decision to allow the Israeli broadcaster Kan to participate in the event, before urging people to “engage in respectful and constructive dialogue and support the artists who are working tirelessly – on what is a music and entertainment show – to share their music with the world”.

Artists are also restricted from making political messages during their performances and could face penalties for doing so. 

Which countries are participating?

The following countries are participating in this year's song contest:

  • Albania – RTSH

  • Armenia – AMPTV

  • Australia – SBS

  • Austria – ORF

  • Azerbaijan – Ictimai

  • Belgium – RTBF

  • Croatia – HRT

  • Cyprus – CyBC

  • Czechia – ČT

  • Denmark – DR

  • Estonia – ERR

  • Finland – YLE

  • France – FT

  • Georgia – GPB

  • Germany – NDR

  • Greece – ERT

  • Iceland – RÚV

  • Ireland – RTÉ

  • Israel – Kan

  • Italy – RAI

  • Latvia – LTV

  • Lithuania – LRT

  • Luxembourg – RTL

  • Malta – PBS

  • Moldova – TRM

  • Netherlands – AVROTROS

  • Norway – NRK

  • Poland – TVP

  • Portugal – RTP

  • San Marino – San Marino RTV

  • Serbia – RTS

  • Slovenia – RTVSLO

  • Spain – RTVE

  • Sweden – SVT

  • Switzerland – SRG SSR

  • Ukraine – Suspilne

  • United Kingdom – BBC

Can I still buy tickets to Eurovision 2024? 

Tickets went on sale on Tuesday, November 28 through Ticketmaster.

Prices for the various Eurovision events start from 415 Swedish krona (£30). 

Fans will have three chances to see the grand final, as there are two rehearsal previews before the live show. Tickets cost up to 3,795 SEK (£280).

According to the Ticketmaster website, limited tickets are available for the events including the grand final – the remaining options can be found here. 

How to watch Eurovision 2024 live

All three live programmes – both semi-finals and the grand final – will be broadcast live on BBC1 and BBC iPlayer in 2024.

The BBC has said that its overall coverage of Eurovision across TV, radio and online in 2023 increased by 55 per cent since 2022, reaching 29.8 million people. 

What rules are changing for Eurovision 2024?

The first Eurovision Song Contest Workshop took place at the Meistersaal in Berlin, Germany on September 12, 2023. During the workshop, various potential rule changes were discussed such as a new draw and voting system changes. 

In March, Eurovision organisers finally revealed the changes they planned to introduce this year. 

Extra performances 

The five countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK) that contribute the most financially to the show and host Sweden will fully perform their entries during the semi-finals. These countries automatically have a spot in the finals so in previous years did not perform in the semi-finals. However, for the first time, they will play to semi-final audiences. 

Voting extensions 

Organisers have revealed there will be an extension to the voting window in the grand final. 

This year, voting will open before the first song is performed so audiences will have the chance to vote throughout the show instead of waiting for all the performances to conclude. 

“The Eurovision Song Contest is always evolving and with more performances and chances to vote it promises to be the most exciting edition yet!” a spokesperson said. 

People from non-participating countries have 24 hours to vote for their favourite songs before the live shows.