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Hours away from finding who will be the hero that will conquer Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2023 in Nice

16 heroes seek to win Junior Eurovision 2023: participants, mechanics, schedule, and how to watch the festival

This afternoon, starting at 4:00 PM CET, the French city of Nice will host the 21st edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. On November 15, 2003, the Eurovision Festival landed on the screens of European viewers with a unique difference: the country representatives were children. We were witnessing the birth of Junior Eurovision in its first edition, and 20 years later, on Sunday, November 26, 2023, we continue to share the values of unity promoted by the festival, gathering in front of the screens for its 21st edition.

Many experiences have been shared together during this time, with new generations joining over the years, new boys and girls becoming part of this unparalleled celebration, participating or growing with the festival. All are welcome to enjoy unique and unforgettable moments that will remain in our memories forever, promoting strong values of friendship, camaraderie, solidarity, and the dissemination of language and culture from various territories united through Junior Eurovision. So far, 20 winners have written the history of Junior Eurovision, with the French participant Lissandro securing the second victory for France last year with his song “Oh Maman!” and bringing the festival back to the French land.


Thanks to his victory, the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2023 celebrates its 21st edition this afternoon at 4:00 PM CET, on Sunday, November 26, live from the Palais Nikaïa in the Mediterranean coastal city of Nice, France. Under the theme “Heroes,” with a focus on children as the “heroes of our time,” the festival includes, for the first time in its logo, the iconic heart flag that occupies the position of the letter “V” in the word “Eurovision,” never before incorporated into Junior Eurovision.

Who participates in Junior Eurovision 2023?

Flag parade’s rehearsal at Junior Eurovision 2023 / Iván Trejo

Artists from 16 countries will be the participants in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2023. They have managed to reach Nice in pursuit of two dreams and will leave with the guarantee of fulfilling the most important one: experiencing the joy of singing on a Eurovision stage and at the world’s most important music event. Their second wish is to win the festival, but the coveted trophy will only have one owner, as decided by the public and the jury.

This will be the performance order of the 16 participating countries in Junior Eurovision 2023, aiming to win the coveted mini crystal microphone trophy:

Running orderSingerSong
01 SPAINSandra Valero«Loviu»
02 MALTAYulan«Stronger»
03 UKRAINEAnastasia Dymyd«Kvitka»
04 IRELANDJessica McKean«Aisling»
06 NORTH MACEDONIATamara Grujeska«Kaži Mi, Kaži Mi Koj»
08 ARMENIAYan Girls«Do It My Way»
09 POLANDMaja Krzyżewska«I Just Need A Friend»
10 GEORGIAAnastasia & Ranina«Over The Sky»
11 PORTUGALJúlia Machado«Where I Belong»
12 FRANCEZoé Clauzure«Cœur»
13 ALBANIAViola Gjyzeli«Bota Ime»
14 ITALYMelissa & Ranya«Un Mondo Giusto»
15 GERMANYFIA«Ohne Worte»
16 THE NETHERLANDSSep & Jasmijn«Holding On To You»

Good luck, and enjoy every minute! Interestingly, we are facing the first edition in the history of Junior Eurovision in which no country has brought a solo boy, and all countries have opted for girls. So, the boys in this edition only appear in duos, as in the Netherlands, accompanying the singer as in Georgia or as dancers.

n addition, among the boys and girls we will see on stage during the participants’ performances, some faces will be familiar, such as one of the dancers from Spain, Juan Diego, who is repeating for the third consecutive year and will be the spokesperson for the votes for the second time. We will also reunite with Sophie Lennon, the representative of Ireland from last year, who achieved a fourth place and the best result for the country so far. She will appear at the end of Ireland’s performance to accompany and sing along with Jessica McKean. And other countries like France will also have a dancer who repeats from the Paris 2021 festival, just like Spain.

The complete Big Five countries for the first time in Junior Eurovision

One of the things that Junior Eurovision has struggled with the most is bringing together the five major Eurovision countries, known as the Big Five in English. These countries are Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, and they are part of the group of nations that make the most significant financial contributions to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). So much so that we had to wait for 20 years and 21 editions to see them all participating together in a single edition of Junior Eurovision.

Spain’s rehearsal at Junior Eurovision 2023 / Iván Trejo

In the inaugural edition of 2003, when Italy was not yet part of this group, Spain and the United Kingdom made their debut. Germany was on the preliminary list of participants, but they withdrew, and France did not show interest in the competition. A year later, in the second edition in 2004, everything seemed to indicate that this milestone would finally be achieved, as the four countries in the group at that time—Germany, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom—confirmed their participation. However, Germany withdrew again without participating shortly afterward.

France left the festival in 2005, the United Kingdom in 2006, and Spain in 2007. Between 2007 and 2013, no Big Five country participated in Junior Eurovision. It was in 2014 when Italy debuted, in 2018 France returned, in 2019 Spain returned, in 2020 Germany debuted, and last year in 2022, the United Kingdom returned. However, Germany withdrew again, and this fact could not be fulfilled.

UK’s first rehearsal in Junior Eurovision 2023 / EBU – Corinne Cumming

To our joy, finally in 2023, the complete Big Five has been gathered thanks to Germany’s return, and all of them have stayed. It took 20 years, but it will be worth it, and surely many more editions await us with all five countries participating in the junior Eurovision celebration.

Absences, comebacks, and a debut maintain the participant count

For the sixth time in the history of Junior Eurovision, and just like in its first edition or last year, the festival will once again feature a total of 16 participating countries. However, compared to the previous edition, we unfortunately have to bid farewell to Serbia and Kazakhstan, while welcoming back Germany and welcoming Estonia for its debut.

Serbia and Kazakhstan will be absent from the Junior Eurovision 2023 lineup after participating in 2022. Both countries are leaving the festival for different reasons, with the hope that we may see them on the stage again in the future with new representatives.

Serbia has withdrawn from Junior Eurovision after participating for 15 years, first alongside Montenegro in 2005 and independently from 2006 to 2010 and from 2014 to 2022. The official reason given by the Serbian television for leaving Junior Eurovision in 2023 is related to the economic difficulties of the channel to participate in the event. However, the decision may also have been influenced by the poor results in their recent participations along with low audience ratings.

Kazakhstan, on the other hand, has withdrawn from Junior Eurovision after participating in 5 consecutive editions since its debut in 2018. The reason for their withdrawal is different from Serbia, as Kazakhstan states that it is temporary, and they have decided not to participate this year to return in the future, likely in the next year 2024, with recharged energy and enough time to prepare better participation conditions, including a well-worked candidacy that can secure a good result. The low position obtained in 2022, finishing second to last, might be one of the reasons for this break.

There are also differences in the treatment and coverage of Junior Eurovision 2023 by the television channels of these two countries. Viewers in Serbia will not be able to follow this year’s festival on television. In contrast, viewers in Kazakhstan will be able to watch the live broadcast of the festival on their television, being one of the two non-participating countries that will transmit the event. Lithuania is the other country that will also broadcast it without participating.

Germany promised to return, and here it is again

Germany’s first rehearsal in Junior Eurovision 2023 / EBU – Corinne Cumming

A country that pledged to come back after withdrawing last year and has indeed kept its promise is Germany. They decided to take a break in 2022 due to the low results they had achieved in their first two participations in 2020 and 2021, where they finished last in 2020 and second to last in 2021. The modest results led them to reflect and make a change in their journey in the festival to try to correct that bad streak.

So, Germany explained that they would not participate in 2022 to take a creative and inspirational break, allowing them to evaluate what had gone wrong and implement changes for their return in 2023. All with the intention of finally achieving a good position in the festival taking place this Sunday, November 26. Will they succeed? In their comeback, Germany is placing its trust in FIA, their representative in Junior Eurovision 2023 with the song “Ohne Worte,” a pop ballad with a message of hope and self-confidence, along with the exploration of the connection with her siblings. Her sister is deaf from birth, and she communicates with her through sign language, which she will also use during the staging of the song. The 12-year-old singer won the online preselection conducted by the German television, defeating the other four finalists and thus becoming the German representative.

Estonia, the great debutante of this edition of Junior Eurovision 2023

Alongside Germany, the other addition to Junior Eurovision 2023 to maintain the participant count comes from a country making its debut in Junior Eurovision 20 years after the creation of this festival in 2003. Estonia, a country that broadcasted the first two editions in 2003 and 2004 on its television but had never dared to debut until now.

Estonia’s first rehearsal in Junior Eurovision 2023 / EBU – Corinne Cumming

Now, in 2023, Estonia will participate for the first time in Junior Eurovision with the enthusiasm of conquering this event and impressing the world with the talent of its young artists. For their first appearance in the festival, they have chosen to internally select ARHANNA to represent them, as she won the Estonian music program ‘Tähtede Lava.’

Arhanna will sing the song “Hoiame Kokku” at Junior Eurovision 2023, which means “Let’s Stay Together.” It’s a ballad composed in Estonian and English by Arhanna herself and her best friend, Rael. The lyrics of this song talk about the importance of friendship and mutual support. The singer confesses to someone that if they feel lonely and worried, they shouldn’t lose hope because she has a good friend who comes to help in their weakest moments. The friend will give encouragement, advice, and strength to overcome their problems.

Who will host Junior Eurovision 2023?

Image: France Télevisions

The festival will have three presenters this year who will guide us through all the surprises the event has in store. The hosts this year will be Olivier Minne, who also hosted Junior Eurovision 2021, and Laury Thilleman. Alongside them will be Ophenya, who will be the social media ambassador and will not only present but also chat with the participants from the Green Room.

Olivier Minne (born on March 18, 1967, in Ixelles, Belgium) is a French-born Belgian presenter, actor, and producer. He was nominated for a 7 d’Or award (equivalent to a US Emmy) as Best TV Presenter in 2000 for his work with Universal Studios, becoming the first French presenter to achieve this. He also served as the commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest from 1995 to 1997 for France. He has hosted shows such as the UER’s “Jeux sans frontières” (Games Without Borders co-hosted with Jean Riffel in 1997), the popular “Fort Boyard,” and in 2012, a special to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Intervilles,” the French version of the “Grand Prix del Verano” contest. In 2014, he hosted the French version of ‘Pyramid’ on France 2. In 2017, he wrote a biography of Louis Jourdan: ‘The Last French Lover of Hollywood’ and started a documentary about the French Hollywood actor.

Flag parade’s rehearsal at Junior Eurovision 2023 / Iván Trejo

Laury Thilleman (born on July 30, 1991, in Brest, Brittany, France) is a journalist, model, presenter, French actress, and was crowned Miss France in 2011. In 2011, 2012, and 2015, she participated in various celebrity specials of the ‘Fort Boyard’ competition. She has become a emblematic face of France Télévisions in recent years, hosting event programs such as ‘Fête de la Musique’ or ‘Les Victoires de la Musique’ since 2021, held at the Junior Eurovision 2021 venue, La Seine musicale. She has also hosted numerous formats such as ‘La Course Des Champions,’ where she shared the screen with Olivier Minne, ‘Allez Viens, Je T’emmène…,’ ‘Surprise Sur Prise,’ or ‘Paris 2024, Le Concert Événement,’ the special gala for the 2024 Olympic Games. Thilleman is also known for her sports skills and advocacy for fitness and a healthy lifestyle, leading her to be a coach in the program ‘Un Village À La Diète’ on TF1 in 2018.

Ophélie Vincent, better known as Ophenya (born on November 16, 2000, in France), is an influencer and TikToker with over 6 million followers who started in the world of this successful social network in 2019. Not only is she present there, but she can also be found on Instagram, where she posts fashion and beauty selfies, or on her own YouTube channel, where she presents clips of her best video shorts. She uses her social media to talk about or showcase her skills in duets, trends, dance, and comedy. In December 2021, she became a dancer for Olly Murs’ music.

How will Junior Eurovision 2023 be?

Junior Eurovision 2023 will kick off with a video featuring last year’s winner, Lissandro, who will share his secret. He has superpowers, although he’s not the only superhero, and he invites us to check it out at Junior Eurovision 2023 in Nice, France. Lissandro will welcome us with this year’s common song, titled “Heroes.” Sandra Valero will be the first to take the stage to lend her voice to the song performed by all participants. It will be divided into two parts with the traditional flag parade introducing the representatives of the participating countries in between.

Once the three hosts have made the introductions, the performances will begin. Spain will be the first to perform around 16:12h CET, with the Spanish representative Sandra Valero taking the stage to sing “Loviu.” The video clips introducing each song will depict challenging situations faced by various people trying to achieve something. The participants of this year will appear, sending their superpowers to solve the problems. Spain’s video will feature a tennis player struggling to hit the ball, with Sandra Valero sending strength to help her become an expert player.

Spain’s rehearsal at Junior Eurovision 2023 / Iván Trejo

There will be several short breaks where Ophenya will chat with the participants from the Green Room. The first break will come after the fourth performance, Ireland, where the digital ambassador will talk to our Spanish representative Sandra Valero, asking her how it feels to perform on a stage like Junior Eurovision’s and who her musical hero is. The remaining breaks will come after the seventh performance (Estonia) and the eleventh (Portugal), before the host country, France, takes the stage.

After enjoying all 16 performances, around 17:32h CET, it will be time to vote for our favorites through the free online voting platform, which will be open for approximately 20 minutes. Voting is possible from anywhere in the world. Remember not to use a VPN to avoid your vote being discarded, and do not vote massively from the same IP address.

There will be two recaps to refresh our memory about the performances, with about 15 seconds dedicated to each song. After the first recap, last year’s winner, Lissandro, will appear on stage, saying goodbye to his Eurovision reign in style, reprising his winning song “Oh Maman!” by arriving on stage driving a car, with a staging reminiscent of the movie ‘Grease.’

Following the second recap, we will have a special guest, Amir, the representative of France at Eurovision 2016, who will sing an alternative version of his Eurovision song “J’ai cherché,” with a surprise included as he sings a part of the song translated into Spanish. He will also present his new single released this Friday with Jason Derulo, “Il y a.” Around 17:53h CET, it will be time to close the online public voting platform to start counting the votes. While the votes are being processed, host Laury Thilleman will appear with the famous pianist Van Toan, who has over 9 million followers on TikTok and was previously seen at the opening ceremony. With his majestic piano Made in Japan, reflecting his Japanese roots, he will play some well-known songs requested by Laury, such as Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida,” the Italian group Ricchi e Poveri’s “Sará perché ti amo,” and the Christmas classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey.

Children are heroes with messages of hope and peace, so in these challenging times with several conflicts worldwide, Junior Eurovision aims to send a message of peace along with the ‘Non Violence Foundation,’ celebrating its 30th anniversary with actions across five continents. Music is ideal for advocating peace, so everyone will raise their voice in a special performance of the anthem “We Are the World,” written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. Former French Junior Eurovision representatives Angélina, Enzo, and the two French winners Valentina and Lissandro will sing the song. Alongside them, all participants of Junior Eurovision 2023 will take the stage, wearing T-shirts with the word “Paz” (Peace in Spanish).

After this final intermission performance, the Executive Supervisor, Martin Österdahl, will confirm the correct receipt of the votes, and around 18:00h CET, we will first get to know the scores from the jury, with votes from 1 to 10 displayed on screen, and spokespersons announcing the 12 points from the stage. There will be some reunions, including Gaia Gambuzza (Malta 2022), Zlata Dziunka (Ukraine 2022), Mariam Bigvava (Georgia 2022), Enzo (France 2021), and Luna (Netherlands 2022).

Once we know all the jury votes, a total of 928 points, it will be time to announce each country’s total score in the online public vote, contributing the other 50% with approximately another 928 points in total. The public voting results will begin to be revealed around 18:12h CET. With the total sum, we will discover who will win the crystal mini microphone of this 21st edition of Junior Eurovision!

You can still vote!

The voting system will consist of 50% professional jury and 50% audience voting, with the latter being free for the seventh consecutive year through the official website of the contest online. The first phase of audience voting opened last Friday, so you can now vote until 3:59 PM CET when the platform will close at the start of the festival. After accessing the JESC.TV website and watching a brief mandatory summary of the songs, you will need to select 3 participants according to your preferences, and you can include your own country, Spain, in our case.

Of course, you can also vote from the same online platform during the live broadcast of the festival this evening when the system reopens around 5:32 PM CET after all participants have performed, as is customary in Eurovision events. The voting will remain open for about 20 minutes and will close around 5:53 PM CET. So, be sure to check the schedule to not miss the opportunity to vote.


When and where to watch Eurovision Junior 2023?

As always when our country has participated, each broadcasting body will be responsible for bringing the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2023tarting at 4:00 PM CET. In Spain, Tony Aguilar (Los 40 principales) and Julia Varela will be the commentators. Tony repeats for the fifth consecutive year, while for Julia Varela, it will be her fourth year.

You already have a plan for this afternoon, don’t forget to tune in to La 1, both in its high-definition (HD) version and its standard-definition (SD) version. Additionally, this year, like the previous one, we can follow this Junior Eurovision 2023 on the Ultra High Definition (UHD) 4K channel in TVE’s tests. It will be through the TVE UHD Spain channel that simultaneously broadcasts the La 1 signal upscaled to 4K resolution. Regardless of whether the Junior Eurovision 2023 signal cannot be broadcast in real 4K, there will be a significant jump in quality compared to the HD version due to the more advanced settings in the broadcast parameters and the higher bitrate, avoiding pixelation seen in HD and SD signals.

If you live in any of the 16 participating countries, you can watch it on television on the participating channel, just like if you are in Kazakhstan and Lithuania, which will broadcast it on the channels that participated in the past.

And if you prefer to watch it online, the Grand Final will also be broadcast live in high definition (HD) through the official YouTube channel of Junior Eurovision

Junior Eurovision, a promising future on the horizon

Poland’s first rehearsal at Junior Eurovision 2023 / EBU – Corinne Cumming

Although we have a total of 16 participating countries, the focus of the event will extend to more points in Europe and around the globe with the aim of adding more countries next year or in the coming years. Thus, the festival will be broadcast on television in 18 countries, with Kazakhstan and Lithuania broadcasting it without participating, and with executives from the television of Finland traveling to Nice to observe how the event is conducted.

Despite not participating in Junior Eurovision 2023, Kazakhstan will broadcast the festival so that its audience can continue to enjoy it because its television greatly appreciates the uniqueness and importance of the competition. They believe that it is crucial to continue promoting and disseminating the development of new talents and cultural exchange among young people from many countries that occurs in Junior Eurovision. In short, all the values promoted by the festival and the opportunities it offers to the younger generation.

Turning to Lithuania, the country debuted in Junior Eurovision in 2007 and also participated in 2008, 2010, and 2011. They withdrew in 2012 and had not shown interest in the festival until now when, despite still not participating, they will broadcast it again on their main television channel after more than 10 years.

Lithuania has also set up an exceptional deployment to promote and disseminate Junior Eurovision among the younger residents of the country, even creating a social media contest for citizens under 18 to participate using the contest hashtags. They have the chance to win the grand prize of attending the live broadcast of the next edition of Junior Eurovision in 2024 at the venue and city where it is held, and become reporters for news programs about the festival on the channel.

Finland, on the other hand, has sent Matti Myllyaho, assistant to the head of the Eurovision delegation of Finland and producer of UMK, to Nice to check how the event unfolds on-site, verify how the new ethical code and child protection at the festival work, and assess whether it adapts to the concerns of the Nordic countries. Iceland also showed interest in 2021 by broadcasting the festival, and although it does not do so this year, will Finland and Iceland debut in Junior Eurovision next year?

On the other hand, and against its will, Belarus will continue to be absent for a compelling reason for the third consecutive year after its expulsion from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) in 2021 because the organization considered that press freedom had been violated in the entity. This happened after the Belarusian people carried out mass protests against Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime following “controversial” presidential elections in August 2020. This suspension is expected to expire in the summer of 2024, so we might have them back next year. A country that, with its organization in 2018, enhanced the technical and production capabilities of the festival since then and closely followed the competition. Will they return next year?

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