Host City Rotterdam, consisting of the City of Rotterdam, Rotterdam Ahoy, Rotterdam Partners and Rotterdam Festivals, looks back with satisfaction on a successful 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest in the city that exceeded expectations. The city on the banks of the river Maas was the centre of attention during the final of the world’s biggest music festival, with beautiful images of Hotel New York, the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, the Maassilo, and the iconic Erasmus Bridge, among other landmarks. The first online Eurovision Village was also successfully launched, with a spectacular opening act by DJ Afrojack on De Hef bridge.
The host city has literally been in the spotlight since last Monday. To celebrate the start of the Song Festival week, various buildings in Rotterdam were illuminated, with the Erasmus Bridge stealing the show. All week long, the graceful 'Swan' literally spread its wings over the city with rays of light on both sides. It created a symbolic and warm welcome to the world and the Eurovision Song Contest. In honour of Duncan Laurence, winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019, there was also a special projection on the Zalmhaven Tower last weekend: Duncan: We Love You. On Saturday night, the city hall was illuminated in the colours of the Italian flag. Congratulations to the winners of the Eurovision Song Contest. The winning song Zitti e buoni also sounded from the traffic lights in front of Rotterdam Ahoy following the final. The 'dancing' traffic lights will remain in operation until around mid-June.
City councillor Kasmi, director of Rotterdam Ahoy Jolanda Jansen, and the project directors of Host City Rotterdam met one more time yesterday at the 100-day countdown clock in front of the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen that is now adorned with the letters OPEN. A reference to this year's theme: OPEN UP. And, regarding Rotterdam: OPEN UP TO THE FUTURE, which the city is using to promote its undiminished ambition to welcome future national and international events and conferences in the city. The clock was celebrated with a fashion walk by studio VollaersZwart, one of the six city dressers for the Eurovision Song Contest in the city. Well-known designers and Rotterdam clothing workshops worked together on creating a colourful collection of SING ALONG Fashion based on country flags, with the Italian flag as the star yesterday.
This word sums up the overwhelming feeling of Rotterdam councillor Said Kasmi (Education, Culture & Tourism). “I look back with great satisfaction on a fantastic and successful 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. Rotterdam showed itself at its best; our city was in the spotlight around the globe, and it will reap the benefits in the long term. Thanks to everyone who made this possible, especially all the citizens of Rotterdam who participated in this event so enthusiastically and in all kinds of creative ways.”
Host City Project Director Alice Vlaanderen: “I’m proud that, together with the EBU, the organising broadcasters and the Host City partners, we were able to show how an unforgettable event can be organised, even in these tomes dominated by COVID-19. Our partners and entrepreneurs in the city who helped to organise this dream event also deserve a mention”
Host City Project Manager Dave Geensen greatly admires the Host City team that worked so hard on the Eurovision Song Contest over the past two years. “The members of the project team have been at their kitchen tables preparing the largest music TV production since March 2020, and during a pandemic to boot. It was a particularly complex task that depended completely on good teamwork. However, thanks to working closely with each other, we were able to realise our ambition.”
After 14 months of events without an audience, last week was a milestone for Rotterdam Ahoy, in many aspects. Approximately 3,500 visitors entered the hall per show, so Ahoy received more than 30,000 visitors in a week. Everything went according to a strict plan.
Jolanda Jansen, Managing Director Rotterdam Ahoy says: “There’s nothing better for a location like ours than to hear that rousing sound of the audience, to see those happy faces, and to experience being together. It was an emotional moment for the artists, audience, and crew. In fact, it was much more than that. Implementing the results of this Fieldlab Event marks an important advance towards full-capacity events. It offers perspective for the entire event industry and society. In addition, we’ve really been able to present ourselves to the world as a country, city and location. That’s something we’ll reap the benefits from in the long term.”
Rotterdam Partners also looks back at the first results with satisfaction. For example, they launched 'Rotterdam. #SWINGALONG ‘, among other things, an international marketing campaign intended to raise awareness of Rotterdam among potential visitors from the neighbouring countries with sustainable transport links, namely Germany, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom. The #SWINGALONG social campaign connects people digitally through an infectious dance challenge and accompanying video clip, and has already been viewed more than 13 million times in the Netherlands and the aforementioned neighbouring countries. Dutch and international influencers, professional dance crews, the entire City Council and Mayor and all kinds of other interested parties have also ventured into the #SWINGALONG dance challenge, and shared their own versions via social media. Life-size projections of dozens of these were shown at the World Port Center in Rotterdam last week, and some #SWINGALONG dancers even managed to get to the live broadcast of the first semifinal.
In addition to the #SWINGALONG campaign, Rotterdam Partners also worked in other ways to maximise international visibility. For example, visitors who came to the city for the Eurovision Song Contest were offered a special tour in Rotterdam. No fewer than 32 countries of all participating Eurovision delegations took part in such a tour, which include a visit to the Euromast, the port, and a trip with the water taxi. The hospitality of the city was greatly appreciated by all participants. The international campaign, the physical and online programming, the city decoration and a wide range of other activities helped put Rotterdam fully in the spotlight of the international media. Together, all these media reached an audience of millions across the world.
Wilbert Lek, Director of Rotterdam Partners: “With the Eurovision Song Contest, we as a city presented ourselves to the world in all kinds of ways last week. Rotterdam has positioned itself internationally as an innovative, resilient city that is able to host an international event of unprecedented scope online in a unique and surprising way, despite all the challenges. The task now is to retain all this international attention, and make sure that visitors continue to visit Rotterdam, and to use the Eurovision Song Contest as a showcase to bring new events and conferences to the city.”
The Online Eurovision Village, the alternative to the physical village in Binnenrotte, was successfully launched as an official side event of the Eurovision Song Contest. Since its opening on Saturday, 15 May, the platform has been visited nearly half a million times by fans from 134 countries. After the Netherlands, most visitors come from Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany. During the show week, there were exclusive performances by Johnny Logan, Duncan, and Afrojack, among others. The first results show that visitors rate the online village highly. "This online Eurovision Village literally opens up a new world of opportunities," according to one visitor.
Renske Satijn, director of Rotterdam Festivals: “We’re very proud that we were able to offer this experience to all the fans. This unique online alternative was set up in an incredibly short period of time, and we’re delighted with the numbers of visitors and their appreciation for the online village. We hope that the EBU will continue this Rotterdam innovation next year as an official side event of the Eurovision Song Contest. We’ll be happy to share everything we’ve learned with them. For all enthusiasts: the content on www.eurovisionvillage.com will remain available for the time being".
With the online Rotterdam City Programme and the 'Celebrate Together' campaign, the Eurovision Song Contest has been cause for celebration among many of Rotterdam’s citizens in the past period. More than 2,500 of Rotterdam’s population with limited financial resources experienced the Eurovision Song Contest in their own city thanks to this campaign. More than 50 Rotterdam organisations and cultural institutions participated in the online City Programme. Catering establishments, entrepreneurs, schools and educational institutions also joined in. Six Rotterdam markets and 25 shopping streets were decorated in a Song Festival atmosphere, and dozens of students helped behind the scenes. The Host City Open UPdate news on OPEN Rotterdam carried reports daily on all the initiatives last week. In the special temporary pop-up TV studio in the New Luxor Theatre, presenter Sherill Samson also received special guests, including Ruth Jacott, Shirma Rouse, and Hans van Willigenburg. https://openrotterdam.nl/open-update/ | www.rotterdamfestivals.nl/stadsprogramma