A Short Guide to the History of the Eurovision Song Contest

The Eurovision Song Contest has been a much-loved (or much laughed-at) feature on our screens for what seems like hundreds of years. But exactly when did the Eurovision Song Contest start? Do you know why the Eurovision was first hosted, and what changes the contest has been through over the following years? Here we look at a short history of this beloved institution; Eurovision.


Who Started the Eurovision Song Contest?

The Eurovision Song Contest began in 1956. It started with the vision of Sergio Pugliese, who was at the Italian television station RAI and it was a contest first based on the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy. In some reports, the reason for the Eurovision Song Contest was as a test for the expertise of live broadcast producers, while others say it was an attempt to bring together a group of countries that had been torn apart by war.

The First Eurovision Song Contest

The first Eurovision was on the 24th May in 1956 and at this contest only seven countries were present in the competition, being able to perform two songs each. But of course it didn’t stay this way. Over the many decades the contest has been held the number of participants has risen to more than 40. In the early days of the Eurovision Song Contest the show had a lot of prestige and attracted top talents from all the countries that took part. There was a live orchestra and many top music stars took part. Switzerland won the first contest.

Increasing Popularity of the Song Contest

In the 1990s the Eurovision Song Contest began to expand, with countries from the former Soviet Bloc being included in the line-up, and this influx continued into the 2000s when Bulgaria and Moldova took part. Most of the countries in Europe have taken part in the Contest, although Kosovo, Vatican City, and Liechtenstein have not. In fact, the Contest has since expanded to include countries from outside the European area. The first, Australia, was invited as a one-off but has subsequently repeated their participation in 2016.

Eurovision Today

Today the Eurovision Song Contest is still televised live around the world and has a special place in the hearts of many people in the UK. People host Eurovision parties and play Bingo Cards based on the show. The Eurovision song contest we see today looks much different from the first contest but the original reasons for the show remain current – to bring people together and to celebrate music and performance.

Bingo Cards

Image: Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/