Love it of hate it, millions will tune into this weekend's Eurovision Song Contest which this year is hosted by the Netherlands' second city Rotterdam at the futuristic Ahoy venue.

Rotterdam is prepared as it counts down to Eurovision with a week of festivities

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

The Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Rotterdam starting tonight (18 May) with the first semi-final and continuing on Thursday with the second while the final is on Saturday in an adapted form. The celebration will be different this year: all the more reason to show that a worldwide connection with the city is still possible. Here are some of the highlights some of the initiatives and projects that will create international visibility for the city and engage fans from all over the world.

The virtual doors of the Online Eurovision Village are open to visitors from around the world from 15 - 23 May. This online platform is the world’s first virtual version of the Eurovision Village that was originally planned near the Markthal in Rotterdam. Fans and viewers can immerse themselves in the 3D world of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021. It features live concerts by international and Dutch artists such as Ireland's multi-winner Johnny Logan and Afrojack.

For those who can't come to Rotterdam, they have created a virtual dance challenge #SWINGALONG. Watch out for the tutorial and make use of the 360-degree Rotterdam filters for Instagram and TikTok. The best and most sensational videos will be projected onto the World Port Centre.

ABBA traffic light

Crossing the street has never been so much fun. The world's first swinging traffic light can be found in Rotterdam. In honour of Eurovision, the traffic light in front of host venue Rotterdam Ahoy plays ABBA's hit song ‘Waterloo’ when the light turns green.

Visual artist Tymon de Laat has immortalised Jeangu Macrooy on an enormous wall near the Ahoy venue. Called ‘Birth of a New Age’, the mural is part of a larger street art project called #UpStreet. Several European artists will also work together to create a collective artwork on six large shipping containers.

Artist duo VollaersZwart are dressing up iconic buildings and public space with a medley of winning songs in the colours of the flags of the competing countries. Old national flags and other recycled materials were used to make the canvas. The large banner, which starts at Central Station and ends at Ahoy, is 6 kilometres long!

Taste of Rotterdam

Cook now and visit later. Taste of Rotterdam contains 41 recipes from the competing countries. Rotterdam based chef Terry Priem created this first Eurovision-inspired cookbook and talked to local artists and entrepreneurs like singer Shirma Rouse.

The City Program aims to involve as many locals as possible in the festive spirit of Eurovision. Highlights include the online world premiere of the British Eurovision musical Let Me Be the One and a runway and lip-sync battle live from music venue BIRD. City carillonneur Richard de Waardt will play songs from all of the participating countries from the carillons of city hall and the Church of St Lawrence.