Interval acts and guest appearances. Alongside the song contest and appearances from local and international personalities, performances from non-competing artists and musicians have been included since the first edition, and have become a staple of the live show. These performances have varied widely, previously featuring music, art, dance and circus performances, and past participants are regularly invited to perform, with the reigning champion traditionally returning each year to perform the previous year’s winning song.
The contest’s opening performance and the main interval act, held following the final competing song and before the announcement of the voting results, has become a memorable part of the contest and has included both internationally known artists and local stars. Contest organisers have previously used these performances as a way to explore their country’s culture and history, such as in “4,000 Years of Greek Song” at the 2006 contest held in Greece; other performances have been more comedic in nature, featuring parody and humour, as was the case with “Love Love Peace Peace” in 2016, a humorous ode to the history and spectacle of the contest itself. Riverdance, which later became one of the most successful dance productions in the world, first began as the interval performance at the 1994 contest in Ireland; the seven-minute performance of traditional Irish music and dance was later expanded into a full stage show that has been seen by over 25 million people worldwide and provided a launchpad for its lead dancers Michael Flatley and Jean Butler.
Among other artists who have performed in a non-competitive manner are Danish Europop group Aqua in 2001, Russian pop duo t.A.T.u. in 2009, and American entertainers Justin Timberlake and Madonna in 2016 and 2019 respectively. Other notable artists, including Cirque du Soleil (2009), Alexandrov Ensemble (2009), Vienna Boys’ Choir (1967 and 2015) and Fire of Anatolia (2004), also performed on the Eurovision stage, and there have been guest appearances from well-known faces from outside the world of music, including actors, athletes, and serving astronauts and cosmonauts. Guest performances have been used as a channel in response to global events happening concurrently with the contest. The 1999 contest in Israel closed with all competing acts performing a rendition of Israel’s 1979 winning song “Hallelujah” as a tribute to the victims of the war in the Balkans, a dance performance entitled “The Grey People” in 2016’s first semi-final was devoted to the European migrant crisis, the 2022 contest featured known anti-war songs “Fragile”, “People Have the Power” and “Give Peace a Chance” in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine that same year, and an interval act in 2023’s first semi-final alluded to the refugee crisis caused by the aforementioned invasion.