Rotterdam 2020

Duncan Laurence’s victory with “Arcade” in Tel Aviv meant that the Netherlands received the honour of organising the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest for the first time since 1980.

Europe’s favourite live music event was previously hosted by Hilversum (1958), Amsterdam (1970) and The Hague (1976 and 1980) and the search is now on for the 2020 host city.

As usual, the host broadcaster invited bids from those Dutch cities interested in staging the event.  Within days of the 2019 contest, the cities of Amsterdam, Arnhem, Breda, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Hague, Leeuwarden, Maastricht, Rotterdam and Utrecht all indicated that they would be willing to host the 2020 event.  It is a testament to the popularity of the Eurovision Song Contest and to the enthusiasm for the show in the Netherlands that so many cities put themselves forward.

The broadcaster AVROTROS has been responsible for recent Dutch Eurovision entries including the 2019 winning song, but in a rather unusual move, the 2020 contest will be organised jointly by the three leading broadcasters in the Netherlands, AVROTROS, NOS and NPO.

On 10 July 2019 the remaining bidding cities of Arnhem, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Maastricht, Rotterdam and Utrecht presented their formal bid books to the organisers at a ceremony in Hilversum, the home of Dutch broadcasting.  By 16 July 2019, the list of potential host cities had been narrowed down to just two options, Maastricht and Rotterdam, and on 30 August 2019 it was finally announced that the city of Rotterdam would have the honour of hosting the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest.

Rotterdam previously hosted Junior Eurovision on 2007, and the 2020 ESC was to be staged at the Ahoy Arena in the South Holland city’s convention centre on 12/14/16 May. 

Tickets went on sale in late 2019 and preparations were very well advanced, with all the songs selected and the stage design finalised. Then the world changed. The coronavirus pandemic that swept the world in early 2020 meant that holding a large public event was no longer considered safe and the organisers looked at how they might proceed. Unfortunately, no alternative format could be agreed and on 18 March 2020 it was announced that the ESC2020 had been cancelled.

No one was more disappointed that the artists who had ben selected to represent their countries in 2020 for the Eurovision Song Contest that never was. They had some consolation in the form of the “Europe shine a light” tribute show that was aired on what would have been grand final night, but Eurovision became just another casualty of the virus that brought so much unhappiness and despair to so many in 2020.

The various OGAE national clubs continued their work and tried to bring fans together despite not being able to meet up in person in Rotterdam or indeed in most countries during the long months of health controls. The annual OGAE Poll was opened up to the public and became the Eurovision Fan Contest 2020. we will never know if The Roop would have been victorious on the Rotterdam stage as they were in the OGAE contest.

Rotterdam was granted the right to host the 2021 and ESC2020 became the Eurovision Song Contest that never was.