Having worked on the finale of the Giants trilogy – officially the biggest event ever to be staged in Liverpool and Wirral – Pip Nolan didn’t think things could get any bigger. Then came Eurovision. Here she tells us her journey from being part of the Eurovision Song Contest bid team to becoming Host City Project Manager.
I’ve worked in the Culture Liverpool team for just over eight years now, but I think it’s safe to say, several months into the planning, that working on the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 is probably the biggest event I have ever worked on…and I worked on the return of the Giants in 2018! It’s also proving to be the most exciting – and at times the most challenging but that’s all part of working in major events.
My involvement started back in July 2022 when it was announced that the UK would host the contest in 2023, sadly due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Of course, if anyone was going to host the event on behalf of Ukraine, we knew it had to be Liverpool! From our rich musical heritage and our reputation for delivering word class major events to the friendly, witty and compassionate nature Scousers are so well known for, hosting the event on behalf of our friends in Ukraine seemed like the perfect fit.
From that moment on, we built a small bid team and began on our rollercoaster journey to eventually being chosen as the official host city in September 2022. One of my favourite memories was the day we found out we had been chosen. Up against strong competition from Glasgow, we were convinced we hadn’t won. Our Director Claire McColgan had sent everyone home earlier that day with only a small number of us left in the office. We waited with bated breath for the live announcement on BBC One’s The One Show, who were broadcasting live from the British Music Experience. The five minutes after we were told we had been chosen is still a blur! Screaming, crying, laughing and more screaming (mainly from Claire!), truly incredulous at the fact we were being given the honour of hosting the contest on behalf of Ukraine. I don’t think I’ve ever been as popular as I was that evening!
My current role includes a little bit of everything. I need to ensure I have a good overview of what we, as host city, are delivering and be able to report this back to our colleagues in the BBC and the European Broadcast Union. I’m also working really closely on the overall creative of the event, from city dressing and branding, to content in the live finals. We want to make sure that Liverpool is seen and portrayed as brilliantly as we all know it should be – both for people coming in to visit the city and everything we have to offer in May and for the estimated 160 million people globally who will tune in the televised live finals – no pressure!
To ensure the host city delivery is a success, we have established a really effective model that focuses on a number of different strands. From operations, to content, programming, visitor experience, to transport and from marketing and communications, to legacy. It’s imperative that all of these workstreams work seamlessly, both on their own and together as part of one large plan to deliver the best Eurovision Song Contest and ensure the project has a lasting legacy across the Liverpool City Region long after the contest has finished. Ultimately, we truly want to do Liverpool and Ukraine proud.
It’s a given that any project of this momentous scale will come with its fair share of challenges and crazy moments! Navigating the sheer appetite across Liverpool, the UK and the world is probably what is most challenging. Everyone wants to (rightly) be involved so making sure everyone feels part of the journey and we are maximising the opportunity hosting the event brings is a huge task. We were warned of the power of Eurovision and it is so true! But ultimately, this is also what makes it exciting. Perceptions of the Eurovision Song Contest being a one-day event have been squashed and in typical Liverpool fashion, we are aiming to deliver the largest city-wide celebrations ever seen for a host city, including a 14-day cultural festival, to show just how much Liverpool loves a party!
Being part of the Eurovision bid team and now the host city project team will always be one of my biggest achievements, both personally and professionally, and I can’t wait to see Liverpool do the UK and Ukraine proud in May!