Eurovision wouldn’t be anything without the millions of fans who tune in every year to watch the drama unfold.
For some though, watching the contest on television isn’t enough. They need to be there, walking on the same carpet and hanging off the coattails of the performers in the host city. Superfans like this are a committed bunch.
“I’ve always watched Eurovision on television but I discovered in 2008 that I could attend the show as an official fan,” Dutch enthusiast Friso Hermsen tells The Local in the press centre.
Hermsen has one of the privileged Eurovision fan passes that are given out to 10 lucky supporters of each participating nation. So how does one get one of these precious passes? By knowing the original Swedish lyrics to Waterloo perhaps? Being able to recite all the winners backwards?
“I wrote a letter to the Dutch broadcasting company. This is my fifth Eurovision and I feel very welcome here,” he explains.
“Malmö feels like a Eurovision town with music playing in the train station. The locals are super enthusiastic.”
He said that the competition last year in Baku was completely over the top, but he enjoyed the vibe in Malmö, where he was bumping into some familiar faces.
“It’s a reunion of old friends whom you see once a year for a week. You get to experience the rehearsals and go to the press conferences,” says Hermsen.
The Dutchman adds that he feels more accepted as a Eurovision supporter in Sweden compared to his native country.
“People in the Netherlands are always negative about the contest and call it a circus. The Swedes get it.”
Exploring the host city is a big attraction for the travelling Eurovision fans. Malmö has got into the spirit by putting on live music and entertainment in the main square Gustav Adolfs Torg.
Spanish fan Jaime Guerrero has been lapping up what the Scanian city has to offer along with friend Aitor Ijurco.
“Malmö is a lovely city, not too big so you can get around easily and see what is happening. The only thing that has surprised me is the cost of things especially alcohol,” Guerrero says as he shops for souvenirs in the trendy Lilla Torg district.
“In Spain, Eurovision is considered a joke. That isn’t the case here at all,” he adds.
While the show may be called the Eurovision Song Contest that doesn’t mean you need to be from the continent to be a devoted fan. Take Jasmin Briggs, a half British/half Australian, who says the show is “massive” down under.
“In Australia, Eurovision is huge. We just love it as the country is so multicultural. There is nothing like it at all. The cheesier it is the more we like it.”
Despite her British roots, Briggs won’t be cheering for UK entrant Bonnie Tyler.
“She’s had her day really. I’d rather the UK sent Adele as then they might have had a chance of winning.”
Twins Gerhard and Peter Dijkstra are two more fans from the Netherlands with the special purple passes. Best thing about them – the parties of course.
“We get into the Euroclub, which is where all the big parties are going on. On the red carpet opening night we were right beside the stars, spoke to them and got autographs. Malmö has really embraced the contest as the logo is everywhere it seems,” Peter tells The Local.
“To become a Eurovision superfan all you need to do is go once. Then you’re hooked.”
Patrick Reilly is The Local’s Eurovision correspondent in Malmö. Tweet him questions if you like.