Entertainment

What to know and how to watch

After a long 12 months, the wait is over — the Eurovision Song Contest is finally returning to our screens.

The annual extravaganza pits Europe’s countries against each other as 25 finalists battle it out on the stage for the ultimate prize: being crowned the contest’s winner.

This year’s contest is expected to heavily emphasize the situation unfolding in Ukraine, after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion on Feb. 24.

Among the 25 nations performing on the big stage in Italy is Ukraine, which is considered a favorite to win.

Below, we remind you of everything you need to know ahead of the final.

Performers dance at the beginning of the dress rehearsal ahead of the grand final.REUTERS

What is Eurovision?

The Eurovision Song Contest first hit our screens way back when in 1956. It’s been taking place annually ever since, except for 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing.

Each year, countries of the European Broadcast Union go head-to-head in a bid to be crowned winners.

This year marks the 66th Eurovision, with a whopping 40 nations battling for the gold.

The band Måneskin won the contest in 2021.REUTERS

As well as viewers watching at home, each participating country is allowed to cast three votes for another nation.

Given the name “Eurovision,” it’s fair to expect to only see European countries take part. But you might be surprised to learn that the European Broadcast Union does include a few countries that aren’t located anywhere near Europe.

Australia, for example, was invited to perform in 2015, and its appearance proved to be so welcome that it’s been invited back every year since.

Subwoolfer from Norway singing ‘Give The Wolf A Banana.’AP

How can I watch?

Peacock TV is set to broadcast Eurovision live for the second year in a row.

Saturday’s grand final will air at 3 p.m. ET.

Who won last year, and who are notable past winners?

The winners of the previous year get to host the Eurovision final each year, meaning that Saturday’s grand showcase will take place in Italy, thanks to Måneskin’s epic 2021 win.

Andromache performs on stage during the second semi-final.Getty Images

The Italian band knocked it out of the park with its rock n’ roll performance, which saw Italy be crowned as winners and subsequently bring the final to home soil.

Måneskin is expected to perform its new song, “Supermodel,” during Saturday’s final.

Eurovision has birthed many famous names and faces since kickstarting in 1956.

Most notably, ABBA, who represented Sweden in 1974, were crowned Eurovision winners with their undeniable hit “Waterloo.”

Laura Pausini performs on stage during the dress reharsals.Getty Images

In 1988, Celine Dion won Eurovision after representing Switzerland, despite being Canadian.

This is the third Eurovision hosted in Italy, as the nation previously hosted in 1965 and in 1991.

Ukraine has won Eurovision twice since its first appearance in the contest 19 years ago.

Russia was banned from participating in this year’s event.

Italian singers Blanco and Mahmood leave the Palace hotel to go to the Palazzetto for the rehearsal.EPA