We’re on our way to – it’s a different world
As we all know, Eurovision 2023 is being hosted by the UK after ’s win last year – and to say .
On Tuesday morning in Liverpool, thousands of Eurovision fanatics hopped on trains, busses and planes to make their way to Merseyside.
And among them, myself and social legend co-worker Torin Gilles, ready for the absolute madness of the week ahead.
We met up in Euston station just after 11am, where mixed among the commuters and holidayers you could pick out those on their way to Liverpool from a mile away (Think flares, bright colours, sheer joy emanating from their very being).
It was getting on to the train that it really felt we were descending from the normal world into Eurovisionland: the Avanti that would bring us to Liverpool Lime Street in just under three hours was splashed in the colours of the Progressive Flag, each carriage bearing different messages, from United By Music to Progress.
Two entire carriages were booked out by international Eurovision fan club OGAE, fans crammed into seats dressed up to the nines and buzzing for the week ahead.
(It will tell you something about how excited we are about the whole thing that we were at first mistaken for part of this fan group and invited on to the carriage, before we revealed ourselves as being lowly Normal Fans and were politely cast out. We reconnected however – more on that later.)
Descending deeper into this new universe that is All Things Are Eurovision, as the train pulled out the manager came on over the intercom playing the Eurovision theme song and declared we would be playing a train-wide game of a Eurovision Pub Quiz.
Train manager Jan, his beard dyed blue and yellow in the colours of Ukraine, hosted the quiz from his office by the train café, and his first question was on the worst-dressed competitor at the 2007 event, followed by the Ukraine winning entries, their artists, song titles and years – and finally, when the UK last hosted and where.
Each question saw the marriage come alive with Eurovision fans bolting down the aisles – because the first person to bring the correct answer to Jan in the manager’s office would be the one to win a goodie bag.
Unfortunately, we didn’t win (boooo), but we did get a chance to chat to Jan about his love for the event and how it has brought everyone together – including those travelling from Euston and those getting on at Milton Keynes, Crewe and elsewhere along the journey of his train.
He said: ‘When I first heard there was going to be a Eurovision train, by crook or by crutch I was going to work that train. I’m a member of OGAE UK myself, I got the email months ago and knew I had to work it.
‘My manager was instrumental on getting me on this train. It’s just been fantastic, it’s such a party atmosphere. And I thought, what better way to celebrate than to do a pop quiz on Eurovision?’
He went on: ‘I’ve always loved Eurovision but I became a bit of a superfan when Conchita won in 2014 … and I made a concerted effort to get to a final myself, and I’ve actually got to attend two. Stockholm in 2016 and Lisbon in 2018.’
‘Sadly this year it will just be me and my partner watching it on the TV … but if anyone’s got a spare ticket then I am available on Saturday night!’
Metro.co.uk also caught up with the Avanti staff who helped organised the OGAE carriage, with Nick Ryder emerging from the singing and dancing of Carriage C and revealing they had ‘hatched a plan’ before Christmas to get ‘Eurovision superfans on board.’
‘It’s so much fun – there are people in there who meet at the station this morning and are now sat at a table of four together like they have known each other for decades,’ she said.
Richard from the Avanti communications team added that he felt ‘dreadfully underdressed,’ with some incredible colours and costumes to be found in the party carriages.
As we headed into the famed carriages, we got to talk to some of these fans – including Ronni, who was dressed head-to-toe in the UK colours, with a union flag skirt, red-white-and-blue pigtails and hat, and who declared that this was just the beginning.
‘This is the Avanti outfit,’ she said, revealing she had plenty more outfits for this evening and the rest of the week.
‘You’ve got to make the effort – I can wear my jeans any day. But this is Eurovision! This is my first time ever at it, and no one believes it, but it’s true.
‘As soon as it was announced it was in Liverpool I went straight on Booking.com – it was 100% sold out within minutes of it being announced, and the cheapest place was £2000 a night.’
She added cheekily: ‘So I had the good sense to hook up with a Scouse friend of mine for free accommodation for the week!’
Each of the four on that table declared they were all in it for Mae Muller this year – apart from one Ireland supporter, Kevin, in a green-white-and-gold wig, although he admitted he would likely ‘defect to the UK’ at some point.
‘But for tonight I’m going to support the home country and hope they get to the final!
Asked what he was looking forward to the most from tonight’s Semi-Final, he answered quickly ‘Dancing. I specifically upped it for standing as I know I can’t stay seated!’
The floor was filled to the brim with people dancing, singing, painting glitter on each other and making friends with complete strangers, and all the while some of the best-known Eurovision anthems pulsed through the carriages.
Within minutes of chatting to superfans, my own face was adorned with bright green sparkling glitter to represent Ireland (Sorry, Mae Muller.)
Finally, after close to three hours on the weirdest and best train either of us had ever been on, we arrived at Liverpool Lime Street, but, naturally, it was only just beginning.
As we stepped off the train, performers filled the platform, some in jellyfish costumes, some painted in the Ukraine colours and beating drums, some waving flags, while crowds gathered to watch the spectacle.
The sun was absolutely beating down on the city at the same time as music filled the air along with cheers from fans, elated to finally be there.
It’s my first time in Liverpool and I’m choosing to believe it’s like this all year round.
And it’s only just the beginning!