First of all, when is the Eurovision on?
This year's Eurovision Song Contest 2019 takes place in Tel Aviv, Israel between May 14th and 18th. As is customary, there are two semi-finals and a final. The first semi-final was held on May 14th. The second is on May 16th, and starts at 8pm. The grand final will take place on May 18th.
When is Ireland performing?
Ireland will take part in the second semi-final on Thursday. We will be the second act to perform that night, sandwiched in between Armenia and Moldova.
Who is representing Ireland this year?
This year, Ireland will be represented by Sarah McTernan, a 25-year-old from Co Clare. You may recognise her from finishing third in The Voice of Ireland back in 2015. Since then, McTernan has carved out a career as a makeup artist and wedding singer.
Eurovision has been on her radar for some time. Last year, she applied to represent San Marino in the Eurovision Song Contest after the microstate launched a talent show aimed at finding their Eurovision representative, but was unsuccessful in her efforts.
Undeterred, McTernan entered the competition to represent Ireland this year and submitted a song written by two Swedish songwriters. Producers liked her voice, but preferred a song called 22 written by a team of Dutch songwriters. McTernan was subsequently enlisted to sing the song and selected as Ireland’s Eurovision entry.
Is the song any use?
It's a laidback bubblegum pop song in the vein of Meghan Trainor or Taylor Swift. McTernan has said that the live performance will recreate a 1950s diner vibe. Whether that will be enough to secure a place in the final is anyone's guess.
Who are the favourites this year?
The Netherlands are widely tipped to fare well with their entry from singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence. As of writing, they are 2/1 favourites to win. Other countries to keep an eye on include Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Malta and Sweden.
It's worth noting that, as of writing, Italy's entry from singer Mahmood has had over 47 million streams on Spotify and 78 million views on YouTube. A fan favourite, perhaps?
Any other notable entries?
Most interesting is Iceland's abrasive techno number titled Hatrið mun sigra, which translates to Hatred Will Prevail. The song will be performed by Hatari, an anti-capitalist, pro-Palestine performance art collective with a penchant for irony.
They have likened Israel to an “apartheid” state and challenged Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, to a “friendly match of traditional Icelandic trouser grip wrestling”. They have also launched their own soda brand titled Soda Dream, a clear parody of the Israel-based company SodaStream. Whether they will incorporate politics into their performance remains to be seen.
Speaking of politics, are there going to be any other protests in Israel?
While the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has called upon countries and broadcasters to boycott the contest, all countries are expected to participate in this year’s competition. That said, it is anticipated that there will be protests in Tel Aviv ahead of the contest.
Notably, ticket sales have been slow with just 5,000 overseas visitors expected in Tel Aviv, which is significantly down on the estimated 30,000 tourists who ventured to Lisbon last year.
Here at home, a number of alternative Eurovision events are being held to show solidarity with Palestine. On Saturday, leading musicians such as Christy Moore, Kíla, Dónal Lunny, Frances Black, Mary Coughlan and others will perform at Palestine: You're-A-Vision in the National Stadium in Dublin.
Back to the show. Who is hosting this year?
The show is hosted by international supermodel Bar Refaeli and broadcaster Erez Tal. Presenters Lucy Ayoub and Assi Azar will host the green room.
What about special guests?
Madonna is set to perform two songs during the interval at this year's grand final, including a song from her new album. It has been reported that Canadian-Israeli billionaire Sylvan Adams will fund the costs of her 15-minute performance, which is said to carry a hefty price tag.
It has also been announced that Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot will make an appearance at the grand final. Once upon a time, Gadot performed in a Madonna tribute show. Could a guest appearance be in the works?
Meanwhile, a number of former Eurovision contestants, including Austria's Conchita and Cyprus's entry last year Eleni Foureira, will perform a medley of each other's songs.
Finally, how can I watch it?
RTÉ and BBC is broadcasting the semi-finals and grand final. The contest will also be streamed live on the Eurovision official YouTube channel without commentary.