What a difference a year makes! Twelve months ago, journalists attending the Eurovision Song Contest were battling the strong Athenian heat, now, the main physical challenge is frost-bite! Yes, on the eve of the first competition rehearsals for the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest, those of us already in Helsinki were treated to a light snow shower, a hail storm and plenty of drenching rain!
Despite the best efforts of mother nature, spirits were not dampened. As the first fans and accredited jounalists arrived, old friends became reunited and that special spirit that sets the Eurovision Song Contest aside from all other competitions of this kind became apparent.
The first press conference of the year was held, the hosts made an impromtu appearance giving us our first taste of interviews for the year and a chance to try out some of the trendy interview settings in what has to be the most multi-purposed and functional press centre that the Eurovision Song Contest has ever enjoyed. The only drawback is that it is a long cold walk from the press area to the arena after we were spoilt last year by having the stage only meters from the working area.
Security is tight, but efficient. The airport style bag scanner and metal detectors run the risk of being an annoyance, but the security staff are efficient, and there were no signs today that the measures will cause great hold-ups for the media. The only annoyance is that journalists and press will have to pass through the check whenever they return from the canteen, and pass through security on each entry to both the press centre and arena.
The Eurovision Song Contest season is now well and truly under way, and in just a few short hours, Bulgaria will open the rehearsals for the 2007 competition at the Hartwall Arena. esctoday.com will be stepping up a gear in coverage to bring you all the reviews, news, press conference information and more.