Planning on attending Eurovision next year? Wanting to see the sights and attend the shows? Fancy exploring Denmark, Finland and more of Sweden as well? Is it your first time at Eurovision and feeling overwhelmed by having to organize hotels, transport? ESC Insight may have the answer to all your dreams and the solution to all your problems. Our resident co-editor, Sharleen Wright, has recently launched a world-first group tour for the Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Malmo during May 2013.
The tour was developed following a growing local Australian interest in Eurovision, with the highest viewing rates for the contest on TV broadcaster SBS ever recorded during 2012.
“On the day I returned from Baku, we were receiving record numbers of phone and email enquiries from fans about attending the upcoming contest in Sweden”, says Sharleen “It’s something that has been on my radar for a while, and I wanted to make it happen for Azerbaijan this year, but logistically it was not possible. The hosting in Sweden is the right launchpad for such an arrangement – not only because it is the spiritual home of Eurovision, a place which embraces the contest so much, but it is also my specialist region as a travel agent”.
The 15-day tour entitled “This Is Malmo Calling”, starts on 5th May in Helsinki, with stops in Tallinn, Riga, Stockholm, Copenhagen, culminating with a 7 night stay close to the action in Malmo to ensure fans that they are on the ground to attend dress rehearsals, both semifinals and the final on Saturday 18th May. It includes guaranteed hotel accommodation with breakfast, intercity transport (coach and ferry), and privately guided expert sightseeing in each of the cities is included on the tour.
For those who dread the idea of hard schedules and large groups, plenty of free time and suggestions will be on hand to allow you to make the most of each city independently, and for those who need a helping hand to make your travel wishes come true, Sharleen will be on the ground to co-ordinate the arrangements. With her background not only as a repeat Eurovision attendee and journalist, but as well as a specialist travel consultant for the Nordic region makes her the right guide for any person looking to attend the contest next year and combine it with an exploration of the neighbouring countries.
“There are two reasons why a tour like this is perfect and should exist,” explains Sharleen. “Firstly, I know how daunting it can be to organize a first-time trip to Eurovision – trying to sort out the transport, understand how the whole event works with its parties and shows, meet new fans, and securing the all-important and increasingly elusive accommodation nearby. Costs can get away from you so easily, and I know if I wasn’t in the travel industry and wasn’t in contact with the likes of OGAE, I’d probably just give up.”
“The second reason for hosting a tour is that if you are travelling all that way, it makes sense to see something other than just the inside of an arena. For most Australians attending Eurovision it isn’t just about the contest itself but a long-distance holiday. Of course, the show is always the primary reason for the travel, but to go half way around the world and not experience the destination itself seems like a shame. It’s far too easy to get carried away with the partying or the press center, and get to the very last day where you trying to cram in some sights to feel like it wasn’t an opportunity wasted. Chances are, it will be the one and only time you will visit the destination – don’t leave feeling regret that you didn’t experience what the country has to offer.”
Undeniably, this is also great opportunity for fellow fans to meet and share the spirit of the contest; something Eurovision is well known for is the camaraderie and family atmosphere experienced beyond the shows. The gathering of many nationalities in one place to celebrate is what keeps many fans coming back year after year. In the spirit of this, Bentours, whilst Australian-based, is encouraging all interested people – not just Australian fans – to sign up to the tour group experience.
Costs start at $2750AUD per person, based on twin share accommodation in 4 star standard hotels.
Availability is extremely limited with a maximum of 36 people for the tour.
Flights to Helsinki/from Copenhagen, and Eurovision tickets are not included in the tour cost.