The Eurovision pre-party tour stopped in Tel Aviv for three days as part of the promotional campaign for the international song contest.
The local preview party — dubbed “Israel Calling” – hosted 20 of the 2016 participants keen on winning the May 10-14 competition in Stockholm.
The colorful April 11-13 event was Israel’s biggest Eurovision celebration since it hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 1999.
Last year’s “Golden Boy” Nadav Guedjsang, “Let me show you Tel Aviv” at the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest. So the ministries of Tourism and Foreign Affairs, with the assistance of the municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo, JNF and Stand With Us, turned to Eurovision organizers to ask that Tel Aviv be included in the Eurovision preview party tour.
Other preview events took place in Riga, Moscow, Amsterdam and London.
The 20 singers at Israel Calling included: Sergey Lazarev (Russia), Amir (France), Sanja Vucic ZAA (Serbia), Freddie (Hungary), Agnete (Norway), Poli Genova (Bulgaria), Donny Montell (Lithuania), MichalSzpak (Poland), ZOË (Austria), Samra (Azerbaijan), Joe and Jake (United Kingdom), Jüri Pootsmann (Estonia), Ovidiu Anton (Romania), ManuElla (Slovenia), Sandhja (Finland), Eneda Tarifa (Albania), Rykka (Switzerland), Lidia Isac (Moldova), Ivan (Belarus) and Hovi Star (Israel).
The three-day visit included a concert featuring the singers, a press meeting and sightseeing tours.The international singers – and accompanying foreign journalists — got a taste of Tel Aviv-Yafo’s popular landmarks, nightlife and food.
The Eurovision singers also planted trees in a JNF forest.
“KKL-JNF is Israel’s largest green organization, with a well established reputation around the world. We believe that through common grounds, which nature and music represent so well, we can communicate more aspects of the country of Israel,” said KKL-JNF World ChairmanDanny Atar.
“I was surprised how green it is. I thought it was a desert here,” said Swiss contestant Rykka at the Tzora forest.
Finland’s Sandhja said this was her second visit to Israel, noting that she “fell in love with Jerusalem” when she shot a music video there two years ago. She called Tel Aviv “a place of freedom.”
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The 2016 Eurovision Song Contest will feature 43 participants, equaling the record set in 2008 and 2011.
Israel’s Star is set to take the stage in the second semi-final on May 12. Bookmakers are expecting Israel’s 2016 entry to finish only in 27th place. Russia’s Lazarev is currently the favorite, while France’s Israeli-French singer Amir is expected to place second.
Israel has won the campy song competition three times since first entering the contest in 1973. In 1978, Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta won with the song “A-Ba-Ni-Bi.” In 1979, Gali Atari and the Milk & Honey group won with “Hallelujah” and in 1998, Dana International won with “Diva.”