ISRAEL – Eurovision will take place in Tel Aviv for the first time next year, as Israel hosts the song contest for only the third time in the competition’s 62-year history. More than 186 million people tuned in to watch Israel’s contestant Netta sing her way to victory in the 2018 final with her upbeat pop song Toy.
Now the contest will return to her home country for the first time since 1999. The choice of city was confirmed today, with Tel Aviv – Israel’s second largest city after Jerusalem – selected after an inspection of its venues and amenities.
Tel Aviv’s mayor Ron Huldai said: “The Eurovision is perfect fit for our city, which has been internationally acclaimed for its vibrant energy, creative spirit, its lively cultural scene and its celebration of freedom. We are looking forward to host a joyful and non-stop event.”
The semi-finals and final will take place at the EXPO International Convention Center, after an opening ceremony at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art was established in 1932 in a building that was the home of Tel Aviv’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff. The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art opened in 1959. The museum moved to its current location on King Saul Avenue in 1971. Another wing was added in 1999 and the Lola Beer Ebner Sculpture Garden was established.
The museum also contains “The Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Art Education Center”, opened since 1988. The museum houses a comprehensive collection of classical and contemporary art, especially Israeli art, a sculpture garden and a youth wing.
The city will also host what has been described as the world’s largest Eurovision Village, on the Tel Aviv boardwalk, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea at Charles Clore Park.
In the late 1930s, the city council decided to build a promenade for separation between bathing areas and hiking or promenading paths. It extended from Bugrashov beach to where Geula beach is located now. The introduction of the promenade was a turning point in common perception of the city’s coastline.
At the same time, World War II started in September 1939, and the British Mandate Regime prohibited bathing in the beach. As a result of that, the city’s beaches were abandoned and neglected. In addition, the developing new city was pouring its sewage to the sea and the beaches were banned for bathing for sanitary reasons. Seaside hotels and cafés were turning into questionable bars, gambling joints and brothels.
The public abstained from the area, and the city’s recreational centers were transferred to the city center, to areas such as Dizengoff Street. In 1942, London Square was founded in the northern part of the promenade. In 1953, Gan-haAtsmaut (Independence Garden) was founded on the gravel hill above Hilton beach. In 1965, at the time of the opening of the port of Ashdod, the ports of Tel Aviv and Jaffa were closed.
In the 1980s, the Dan District sewage treatment facility was founded, and the sewage was transferred to the plant and not to the sea. That enabled the cleansing of the beaches and preparations to be made in order to open them again to the public for bathing. During that period, tombolo breakwaters were placed, causing significant expansion of the beaches allowing a greater number of people to enter. In the scope of the project, beach facilities were restored and reopened.
Currently,the municipality is advancing a project to join the promenade sections into one continuous platform.
“The city will be exposed to the world through the eyes of the 1,500 journalists and thousands of tourists that will descend upon the city for the Eurovision events,” Eurovision 2018 project director Gidi Schmerling said. “Dozens of events will take place throughout the city on top of the main events, turning the city into one big Eurovision celebration.”