The Reeperbahn or Berlin? Decision Expected Soon on Eurovision Host City

Hamburg and Berlin are locked in a heated competition to land next year's Eurovision Song Contest. The port city and its Reeperbahn red light district has long been the cultural home of Eurovision in Germany, but many see the country's capital as the likely choice.
Lena Meyer-Landrut, Germany's Eurovision Song Contest winner, would like to see the next event be held in Berlin.

Lena Meyer-Landrut, Germany's Eurovision Song Contest winner, would like to see the next event be held in Berlin.

Foto: DANIEL SANNUM LAUTEN/ AFP

Four German cities -- Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Hanover -- are now officially competing to host the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. Germany landed the annual television event after Lena Meyer-Landrut won the song contest in Oslo in May, making her the first German to win in 28 years.

Eurovision, also known by its French name -- Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson -- is organized in each country by national public broadcasters. In Germany it is produced by national broadcaster ARD and its Hamburg-based regional subsidiary, Norddeutsche Rundfunk (NDR). ARD and NDR are responsible for selecting the winning applicant city, and an announcement on where it will take place is expected in late summer.

Meyer-Landrut hails from Hanover, and many are hoping she will give the city a local edge in securing the event. But the singer herself, who is hoping to defend her title next year, has said she would prefer Berlin. "Berlin is big, multicultural and has everything that interests me," she told journalists.

'The Grand Prix Belongs to Hamburg' ... 'Berlin Is the Right Place'

For years, Hamburg has been closely associated with Eurovision because of Hamburg-based NDR's involvement and the city's famous Reeperbahn has been the site of a massive official party celebrating the event and also the location where the scores from Germany are broadcast. The city's outgoing mayor, Ole von Beust, says "The Grand Prix belongs to Hamburg."

Typically, but by no means exclusively, the Grand Prix is held in national capitals, and Berlin is hoping that factor, as well as its international popularity, will help land Eurovision. The city wants to host the contest on the spectacular grounds of the former Tempelhof airport. Berlin, Mayor Klaus Wowereit told reporters, has the "best conditions" and "is the right place" to host Eurovision.

Düsseldorf, located on the picturesque Rhine River is also bidding for the song contest, but most view the city, like Hanover, as a long shot.

"All four cities have given their best to win the bid," said ARD entertainment chief Thomas Schreiber. "But there is no foregone conclusion on these applications."

dsl/SPIEGEL -- with wires
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