Eurovision Song Contest settles down in Rotterdam Ahoy

The first signs of the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam will be visible. Sunday morning started with the construction of the podium in Rotterdam Ahoy. Just after 10:00 a.m., executive producer Sietse Bakker and Ahoy director Jolanda Jansen symbolically let the first truck with parts into the hall. In a tight month, the stage should definitely stand. The first rehearsals are expected to start on 8 May.

For the organisation, with the start of the construction, the long wait is finally over. โ€œIt has been 693 days since Duncan won the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, 590 days since we chose Rotterdam as the host city, 389 days since the cancellation on March 18 last year and 41 days to go until the grand finale here on May 22,โ€ said Bakker, before the first truck was welcomed.

Jansen calls it an โ€œimportant and memorable moment.โ€ โ€œThis will make our hearts beat faster, build something beautiful together on the floor,โ€ says Ahoys director. โ€œWe cant wait.โ€

That the Eurovision Song Contest takes place in the Netherlands for the first time since 1980 is due to Duncan Laurence, who won the last edition with Arcade in 2019. The international music event was supposed to be held last year in Rotterdam, but due to the coronapandemic the song festival was postponed for a year. The Netherlands is represented this time by Jeangu Macrooy, who, as a participant from the host country, is already assured of a place in the final on May 22.

Biggest stage ever for Ahoy

The stage of the Eurovision Song Contest will be the biggest Rotterdam Ahoy has ever had. This reports Erwin Rintjema, who, as head of technical production of Ahoy, oversees the construction of the stage.

More than half of the arena of Ahoy, where normally there is room for up to 16,500 visitors, will soon be taken up by the stage. โ€œThe total width of the podium is 52 meters. Thats slightly wider than the Ahoy floor, so were also building on the sides over the first ring of the stands,โ€ he said Sunday at the official kickoff of the building.

Although it will be a big backdrop, Rintjema expects the shows to be intimate for the possibly 3500 physically present fans. โ€œI think we can also create a great atmosphere. An atmosphere that everyone has missed so much.โ€

24/7

The crew has a few weeks to build up everything for the first rehearsals on May 8. Then the stage must be โ€œshowready.โ€ To do this, work is going on 24/7. โ€œIn which a lot of people are at work during the night shifts and a lot of trucks are unloaded. Later those nights are mainly used to put the dots on the i, so that we are completely ready for rehearsalsโ€, he told the ANP.

Its going to be spicy weeks for the crew. Only the equipment needed in the arena occupies around 110 trucks, estimates Rintjema. โ€œBut then I have not counted what is happening in the halls around the arena. For example, we need 700 office chairs alone for all the people who have an office space here.โ€

The fact that the crew has already been able to practice some of the build-up for the eventually cancelled edition of the song festival last year brings a small advantage. โ€œThis allowed us to be even better prepared. But we did get a pandemic back for it, so that did bring it back into balance,โ€ said Rintjema laughing.