Eurovision selections continue apace all around Europe this week. The biggest and finest selection of them all is that of the mighty Sweden. Melodifestivalen is a Swedish national institution which has been running for almost 50 years. Many people in Sweden claim that the contest is even more important than Eurovision itself, with the show getting huge ratings and generating huge media interest.
Melodifestivalen is a massive affair: 32 songs are in the running (from over 3,000 submitted), whittled down through a series of semi-finals to a grand final of 10 songs. It's like meets Pop Idol meets Top of The Pops meets Everything That's Been Good on Telly Ever. Half of Sweden tunes in for the semi-finals, and the final is regularly the most watched TV show in Sweden each year.
The Swedes love their melodies and bring a great mix of uptempo pop, that special Swedish schlager, ballads, rock and some other surprises. They also love a good show - dancers galore, wind machines, divas strutting their stuff, hunky men in suits. It's got something for everyone.
So before you book your flight to Stockholm to get a front row seat at The Globen Arena, let us tell you about a Londonist connection to Melodifestivalen. The Harcourt, a Swedish bar in Marylebone, has been broadcasting Melodifestivalen for the past few years with huge success. Tickets are now on sale for this year's final, and have already proved so popular that they've sold out but have found a second venue to broadcast the show. Tickets are a mere £5 and you get a free drink and a huge amount of entertaining song and dance.
It attracts a lively mix of enthuastic Swedes (they'll all be singing by the middle of the evening) and Eurovision / Swedish pop fans (they'll all be singing at the beginning of the evening), all of whom cheer for the wonderful key changes. What's more, the bar are asking that everyone dress up eurovision style. Go! We guarantee you'll have fun.