When will Eurovision 2021 air? What acts will return this year?

Here's everything we know so far about this year's Eurovision contest.

Credit: Getty Images

After having to suffer a year without Eurovision in 2020, anticipation for the 2021 event is greater than ever – and there’s not too long to wait.


An official date has been set for the contest in May, with James Newman finally given the opportunity to represent the UK after it seemed his chance had passed when last year’s event was cancelled.

This year, Newman will be singing Embers, which is “a joyous concoction of explosive dance beats, blended with its gospel-inspired vocals, melodic piano lines and horn sections”.

Here’s everything we know so far about Eurovision 2021, who’s competing and when it’ll be.

When will Eurovision 2021 take place?

The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final will take place on Saturday 22nd May 2021 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

BBC One will be broadcasting live coverage of the competition, with Graham Norton commentating, while on BBC Radio 2, Ken Bruce will be providing commentary.

Norton said he was so “excited” for the return of the contest, adding that “it’s exactly the kind of joy the world needs”.

“The UK have a great entry with James Newman and ‘Embers’, it’s a banger and represents everything that Eurovision is. It’s arguably the best night of the year and I can’t wait – bring it on!”

Meanwhile Amanda Holden will this year take on the role of Britain’s spokesperson, delivering the results of the UK professional jury vote.

She said, “What an honour to announce the UK’s votes this year. I’m utterly thrilled. It’s an ambition ticked after 45 years of watching it! Now, what to wear…”

The semi-finals will be held on Tuesday 18th and Thursday 20th May, and will be broadcast on BBC Four.

They will be presented by Scott Mills and Rylan Clark-Neal alongside Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and presenter, Chelcee Grimes.

Grimes said that she had always been a fan of the contest and couldn’t wait to host the semi-finals. “I’m looking forward to seeing all the weird and wonderful performances, as well as cheering on my mate James who is waving the flag for the UK,” she said.

“James and I have written together for a previous Eurovision winner and we’ve also penned some songs for the Romanian entrant so he is the best person for the job. JAMES TO WIN!”

Which country will host Eurovision 2021?

Eurovision 2021 will take place in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, where this year’s contest was due to take place.

Eurovision 2020 was due to take place at the Rotterdam Ahoy stadium – however following the event’s cancellation, the venue was used as an emergency coronavirus hospital.

Rotterdam Ahoy (Credit: Getty Images)
Rotterdam Ahoy (Credit: Getty Images)

“It’s vitally important that the Eurovision Song Contest returns next year, and we’re pleased to have the necessary commitment from our Members in the Netherlands to bring this much-loved show back to audiences across the world,” said Martin Österdahl, the Eurovision Song Contest’s new Executive Supervisor.

“I firmly believe that all of us involved in the Eurovision Song Contest will stand united through challenges and change to bring the Contest back stronger than ever, ensuring its longevity for decades to come.”

Though the Eurovision Song Contest is expected go ahead in some form in 2021, developments surrounding COVID-19 and evolving social distancing guidelines could impact planning and might mean changes to the usual format.

Eurovision bosses have ruled out a full-scale live show and have asked contestants to produce a “live-on-tape” performance ahead of the competition, with the videos being used if artists cannot travel due to the pandemic.

Various scenarios had been mapped out, ranging from the usual arena show with an audience to a mostly virtual event, however, bosses have since ruled out scenario A, which involved a packed venue.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has therefore announced that it will “work with its Dutch Members and the City of Rotterdam to ensure the continuity of the event in a number of different scenarios”.

“Our team is proud and excited to look forward with renewed energy to organise a fantastic Eurovision Song Contest in 2021,” said Sietse Bakker, executive producer of the event. “Yes, with a sense of realism that fits with the times we live in, but also with ambition and creativity. We are looking forward to working with the entire Eurovision family to make it happen.”

The Dutch government announced in May 2020 that it will not be allowing mass events to be held in the county until a vaccine against COVID-19 has been found.

“We understand that the public would like to know what the corona measures will mean for the organisation of an event such as Eurovision in 2021,” Dutch Public Broadcaster NPO said. “Of course, the health of participants, employees and visitors always come first.”

Will the Eurovision 2020 acts compete in 2021?

Following the 2020 event’s cancellation, the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group, which represents all participating broadcasters across the globe, agreed that songs due to participate this year cannot be used next year.

This is in accordance with the Eurovision Song Content rules, which state that songs competing in Eurovision should not be commercially available before 1st September the year before. Therefore, any songs to be used in Eurovision 2021, cannot have been publicly available before 1st September 2020.

The group also said that using the same songs would “not be in the spirit of the Contest”.

Jeangu Macrooy – the Netherlands' 2020 entry
Jeangu Macrooy – the Netherlands’ 2020 entry

However, this year’s artists will be able to compete in Eurovision 2021 if their country’s broadcasters choose to select them once again.

In February 2021, the BBC confirmed that James Newman had been selected to represent the UK for the 2021 contest in Rotterdam. He’ll be singing a brand new song, telling Radio 1 Newsbeat that it’ll be “positive and upbeat”.

So far, the following counties have confirmed that their 2020 contestants will be taking part next year also.

“The EBU, which is the Eurovision committee, said that local broadcasters can re-enter their acts so I could go back next year as long as it’s with a different song, but nothing has been decided yet,” Newman told RadioTimes.com. “It’s up to the BBC, my fate lies in their hands.”

Who won the last Eurovision?

The winner of Eurovision 2019, which took place in Israel, was the Netherland’s entry Duncan Laurence with his song Arcade.

The year before that saw Netta, Israel’s act, win the competition in Cyprus with Toy – her clucky dance hit.

Over the last six decades, Ireland has placed first in Eurovision more than any other country, winning the title seven times with 1996 being the last time they took home the title.

The UK has won five times since 1956, the last time being 1997, when Katrina and the Waves sang Love Shine a Light.


Who would have won Eurovision 2020?

According to RadioTimes.com‘s Grand Final poll, Bulgaria would have won with 40 per cent of the vote, with Lithuania coming second with 36 per cent. Iceland came third, with 13 per cent.

If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.