In an official announcement today, we now know the Semi Final Allocation Draw for Eurovision 2023 will take place in Liverpool on Tuesday, 31st of January! The presenters of this event will be Rylan and AJ Odudu, and the event will start at 20:00 CET from St George’s Hall in Liverpool.
This event will be broadcast live on official Eurovision YouTube channel and on BBC 2 and BBC iPlayer in the United Kingdom.
What is an ‘Allocation Draw’ anyway?
Simply put, this is the event where we will find out in which of the two Semi Finals each country will compete this May. Yet there is some more pomp and circumstance to it.
What to expect
Early on at the event, there is the prescribed ‘handing over’ ceremony. The mayor of Turin (Stefano Lo Russo) will ceremonially “hand over” the event to the mayor of Liverpool (Joanne Anderson).
Since in 2007, a special commemorative insignia has been added to a large keyring fob by the previous host city. This item is getting quite heavy and weighs in excess of 30kg (photo)! So we’ll wait and see if this tradition continues this year, as soon it will need to be trucked in on a forklift!
In the first part of the draw, the pre-qualifying countries are assigned one of the two Semi Finals to vote in. These are the ‘Big 5‘ countries (France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain), plus last year’s winner Ukraine. These six countries are not drawn from the pots as they will automatically perform in the Grand Final and do not compete in the Semis.
That leaves 31 Semi Final countries that are grouped into pots (usually five or six) based on their historic voting patterns. This is done in an attempt to making the voting more equitable. This reduces the chances that each Semi Final will not be populated by countries with higher chances of voting for each other. For instance, expect all the Nordic nations to find themselves in the same pot!
It’s then time to assign the countries to a Semi Final, and then decide which half of the running order they will sing in by drawing lots. A host will draw one country at a time, moving from one pot to the next, until each Semi Final is populated by 15 or 16 countries.
As each country learns in which Semi Final it will perform, another draw will occur immediately to decide whether it will perform in the first or second half of the running order in that Semi.
The precise running order will be determined later (usually in April) by the show’s producers and the EBU once all songs have been submitted by mid-March. This entire process will be overseen by the Executive Supervisor of the EBU, Martin Österdahl.
Furthermore, the Semi Final Allocation Draw is usually the first glimpse we’ll get of the theme art and slogan for the upcoming Eurovision. It’s always something fans pay attention to.
Finally, some national broadcasters make special requests to be placed in a specific Semi Final. This is usually due to scheduling conflicts. If the EBU Reference Group has approved any of these requests, it will be made known at the Draw.
If you’ve never seen one before, below you can watch last year’s Semi Final Allocation Draw in Turin’s stunning Palazzo Madama, to get a better idea of how the event in Liverpool will unfold!