The Eurovision circus is in full swing now with all delegations present in Copenhagen. Today saw the Big Five (UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain) rehearse alongside the home team, Denmark. It's going to be a slick set of shows.
Eurovision is changing. Gone are the lavish opening ceremonies with open invitations, the contest is downsizing and there is a much more frugal approach to the event now. The welcome reception will take place tonight but it's strictly for delegations only. Accredited press can go along to the red carpet to watch delegates arriving and like last year, can watch the party on a screen in the Euroclub. It all smacks a little of "let them eat cake" (cheesecake if you're from Belarus) although it's not entirely surprising given the budget constraints facing national broadcasters.
Whilst Eurovision can be an expensive business it's still one which countries buy into. Georgia for example, uses Eurovision as a platform for promoting the country, an avenue for nation branding. Of course politics can and does come into Eurovision too. Tijana, the singer from FYR Macedonia performed at the Euroclub last night and expressed regret that Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina were all absent from the contest this year. She then performed a short rendition of the Serbian winner from 2007 "Molitva". It's easy to be cynical but bearing in mind that there was a full scale war going on in the Balkans only two decades ago, it shows how Eurovision really does continue to unite. All eyes will be on Russia and Ukraine in the first semi final on Tuesday. Tijana will be joining Scott Mills (and me!) on the show on BBC Three.