30 Amazing Things I Learnt At Eurovision 2014

Dream. Come. True.

So that was Eurovision 2014.

Ragnar Singsaas / Getty

Busty Slavic women did their laundry, Russian twins got their hair tangled up on a giant see-saw and a magnificent diva walked away with the prize.

As ever, it didn’t disappoint.

BBC / Eurovision / EBU

But what is Eurovision like behind the scenes? I went to Copenhagen to find out.

1. This year, the Eurovision Song Contest employed 500 volunteers.

Glen Webb / EBU

Their jobs ranged from navigating guests around the arena, to serving up meatballs in the press canteen, and driving delegates back to their hotels at the end of the day.

I spoke to Amanda, a 26-year-old American-native from Sweden, who travelled to Copenhagen in order to volunteer.

“I love Eurovision,” she told me. “I haven’t slept in three days and I don’t think I’ve ever been on my feet for so long. But it’s totally been worth it. I got a free ticket to the competition’s dress rehearsal. That’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

2. And she was right. Copenhagen was the place to be this weekend.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

A Eurovision fan mile ran through the centre of town, with a dedicated Eurovision Village across Gammeltorv and Nytorv Squares.

There were Danish DJs playing Eurovision classics from 10am every day in the week leading up to the competition.

3. There was also wonderfully tacky merchandise.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

 

4. A Eurovision karaoke booth and makeover tent.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

 

5. And a fabulous lady valiantly dancing on her own.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

6. In the centre of town there was a countdown to Eurovision.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

On either side of it, volunteers offered fans walking tours around Copenhagen.

7. There were Eurovision song lyrics on the side of every road.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

That’s “Cliche Love Song” by Basim, BTW.

8. And Metro stations offered the public free transport in exchange for a Eurovision karaoke performance.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

9. I headed to Copenhagen’s centre to ask Eurovision superfans what the competition meant to them.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

This Swedish couple go to Eurovision every year.

“This is our 11th trip,” they told me. “It’s our tradition, as a married couple. Let’s hope that next year we won’t have to go any further than Stockholm.”

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

These Finns were just happy that the UK is taking the competition seriously.

“You guys always enter a joke act,” they told me. “But Molly’s actually really good. We’re really impressed with her song.”

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

These British twins watch Eurovision together every year.

“It’s been our thing for as long as I can remember,” they told me.

“We started going to the live shows five years ago. It gives us a good excuse to explore a new country and catch up with each other once a year.”

10. That evening, I headed to “Fortunate Friday” at EuroClub, the competition’s official nightclub.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

The club hosted live screening of the semi-finals and final, as well as live performances from Eurovision DJs throughout the week.

11. A lot of people there had opinions about who should win.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

“WE LOVE BASIM,” these Danes shrieked at me. “BASIIIIIIM”.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

“It’s all about Sweden,” these Israelis told me. “Sanna is world class.”

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

“Conchita, Conchita, Conchita,” chanted these Austrians - whose mothers had knitted them Conchita-style beards.

12. The day before the final, I caught the boat to Eurovision island for the dress rehearsal.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

 

Leaving from Nordhaven harbour, it took about 20 minutes to get to the former shipyard.

13. Even in rehearsal, the B&W Hallerna Arena looked fantastic.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

14. Although the actual event would hold 11,000 fans, 3,000 press and volunteers turned up to the dress rehearsal.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

“I’m so excited to be here,” Amanda, the American volunteer told me. “I went to both of the semi final dress rehearsals as well and they were out of this world. This venue is the best.”

15. This year’s hosts were Nikolaj Koppel, Lise Rønne and Pilou Asbæk.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

16. This is the autocue they read from.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

17. And this is the view they looked out onto.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

 

18. Commentators from individual countries sit in booths at the top of the arena.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

This is where Graham Norton was thanked for no particular reason.

19. After they perform, acts head to hear the outcome of the votes in a special area in the middle of the arena.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

This is where Molly had some top cake bants with the host.

20. Even in dress rehearsal, the sets were spectacular.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

 

21. Bizarre.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

 

22. But amazing.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

 

“The ‘LOVE’ banner that dropped down at the end of Basim’s performance was originally supposed to be a Danish flag,” Amanda told me. “But that was considered too political so they changed it at the last minute.”

23. And so were the contestants.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

 

That’s the Tolmachevy Sisters from Russia, Conchita Wurst from Austria and Dilara Kazimova from Azerbaijan.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

 

There’s Molly from the UK, Teo from Belarus and the Common Linnets from the Netherlands.

24. But, before long, it was time for the competition. The Press Centre was packed.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Journalists from all over Europe gathered in a designated press tent on Eurovision island to watch the show together.

25. Greece’s media were especially enthusiastic.

OK so Greece sent all of their media here #Eurovision

— TabathaLeggett (@Tabatha Leggett)

26. As soon as Conchita entered the stage, there was a standing ovation.

BBC / Eurovision / EBU

27. Of course, every time Russia got votes, everyone booed.

In fact, the boos in the press tent were so loud that we couldn’t hear the boos on TV.

28. But there could only be one winner. And Conchita Wurst absolutely smashed it.

BBC / Eurovision / EBU

29. In the Winner’s Press Conference, she held her trophy high and said, “This is for all out there who believe in a future of love and tolerance and acceptance.”

Andreas Putting / EBU

30. Oh, Eurovision. You’re the best.

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