The Eurovision Song Contest first began in 1954, in which host-nation Switzerland’s Lys Assia was crowned the winner on a simple yet traditional stage, with a backdrop of curtains and a surrounding wreath of gorgeous flowers.
The first broadcast was transmitted in grainy black and white analog, with minimal lighting, one host and only 7 participating nations – each of whom performed two songs.
Since that time, the contest has evolved massively, with huge technological advancements and an ever increasing number of participating countries adding an epic and grander feel.
Let’s take a trek back through time and observe some of Eurovision’s greatest and most iconic stages and see how they’ve changed over the years.
1968 London – Massiel
One of the most famous and controversial contests of all time, the 1968 version in which the UK’s Cliff Richard was marginally defeated by Spain’s Massiel in very controversial circumstances. This was the first ever time the contest was broadcast in colour and the first time they really went all out with the stage – featuring the logo of the time built and embellished around a central walkway thrust before the orchestra.
1974 Brighton – ABBA
The famous 1974 edition won by ABBA also featured one of the more creative stages for its era. Making use of a larger space than seen previously, large curved abstractions were the backdrop for the Swedish quartet’s famous victory. Also featuring draping, chandelier effect orbs, it was one of the first times that bespoke design became a prominent part of the show’s setup.
1977 London – Marie Myriam
The first time that Eurovision stages really stepped into the realm of grand, epic structures and large builds, the ‘77 edition of the song contest saw the orchestra housed behind the performers under a large dome, capable of granting a different backdrop depending on the type of light projected onto it. This would become a staple of the contest here and thereafter, meaning ‘77 became a technological trendsetter for the contest.
1988 Dublin – Celine Dion
Over the course of the 80s, geometric stages became the status quo, with increased lighting and even the first moving stage scenery. However, by ‘87 and ‘88, this changed. In 1987, Brussels became the first to have the stage in blackout during the performances, instead using spotlights and the colours of the stage to highlight the performer. This was expanded and perfected in 1988 in Dublin, with the creative use of a lattice pattern of lights making a framework for an interactive and focused performance space.
1995 Dublin – Secret Garden
Dublin returned in 1995 with another incredible stage, making use of lighting upon a tier of three steps, up to the main performance space, and a host of coloured gels over the lighting to create a striking and different image for each performer across what had now become a massive performance space. The first of the modern generation of Eurovision stages.
2000 Stockholm – Olsen Brothers
By the millennium, Eurovision had become a big arena show, with Jerusalem in 1999 really opening the eyes of people to its potential. In the millennium year, Stockholm decided to crank this to the max, with 16,000 people crammed into the Globe Arena for the final event. The show made use of rapid, fast paced lighting across the whole arena to provide a powerful, rock show atmosphere to the event. Also featuring were on-stage, LED screen blocks – a fixture which would become very prominent in subsequent years.
2003 Riga – Sertab Erener
The technological revolution of Eurovision stages featured another huge milestone in 2003, with the first use of an LED screen stage underneath the performer. This has become a regular feature ever since and has allowed for some truly creative settings to partner millennial performances. The same video designs were installed to cascade up the struts of the surrounding stage design, making for an entirely dynamic stage setup.
2009 Moscow – Alexander Rybak
Perhaps the pinnacle of the current generation of technological stages, Moscow’s stage in 2009 incorporated all the advancements of the prior years into a fully metamorphosing stage, capable of changing shape, colour and image for each performer. The bespoke designed blocks could each present their own image and generate the typical Eurovision backdrop, only this time on an equally bespoke design of stage, capable of being used in a configuration of screens to create whatever effect necessary.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our look back on some of Eurovision’s most prominent and revolutionary stages.
We’re interested in knowing which stages are your favourites. Which Eurovision event had the stage you found most spectacular, eye-catching, creative, inventive and downright memorable? Head on over to our special poll now to cast your votes and see how your favourite compares against others.
Imagine this: a child right now in the UK is one day going to stand on one of these stages as the UK’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. It could be someone you know. It could be one of your pupils. It could be your child!
This is never going to happen though, without a stage for them to learn on. That’s where we come in. Explore the multitude of ways a new, modular stage system can be used in schools across the country to help children find their ways here.