President Zelensky has vowed to hold Eurovision in Mariupol next year after an outpouring of support from the European public propelled Ukraine to victory – as Britain’s Sam Ryder earned a shock second place.
Britain surprisingly topped the jury vote and led for most of the night before Ukraine were awarded a mammoth 439 points in the public vote.
The war-torn nation ended on 631 points while the UK finished second with 466 points. Spain finished third with 459 with Sweden fourth on 438.
Volodymyr Zelensky was quick to hail the victory – and even vowed to hold next year’s competition in Mariupol, despite the city being besieged by Russian forces.
He said: ‘Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe. Next year Ukraine will host Eurovision.
‘For the third time in its history and, I believe, not the last. We will do our best to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in Ukrainian Mariupol. Free, peaceful, rebuilt.
‘I thank the Kalush Orchestra for this victory and everyone who gave us your votes. I am sure that the sound of victory in the battle with the enemy is not far off. Glory to Ukraine.’
The Eurovision results are a defiant message to Vladimir Putin as Ukraine’s success was followed by a stunning second place for the UK.
Britain, a staunch ally of Zelensky’s Ukraine during the Russian invasion, almost pulled off a shock win after leading for most of the night, before being pipped at the end.
In contrast, Germany and France, whose leaders have come under criticism for not being tough enough on Russia’s aggression, were the two last placed nations in this year’s contest.
Winners folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra delivered an emotional rendition of their song Stefania, which has become a war anthem for Ukraine during the invasion.
Receiving the coveted trophy, the band said: ‘Thank you for supporting Ukraine. This victory is for every Ukrainian. Slava Ukraini.’
Despite missing out on a stunning win, Britain’s Sam Ryder still achieved the UK’s best result for 20 years as he finished second.
Graham Norton, who presented the contest on BBC One, said: ‘This is a red letter moment. I am so happy for him, for the UK and for the BBC who have worked so hard to turn our fortunes.’
The 32-year-old Tik Tok star won over the audience, dazzling in a one piece suit encrusted with beads and pearls.
After topping the national jury vote with 283 points, beating out favourites Spain and Sweden, Ryder said: ‘There is so much gratitude, what an experience.’
He found fame covering songs on TikTok during lockdown, amassing 12 million followers and catching the attention of global stars including Justin Bieber and Alicia Keys.
Ukraine has won the Eurovision Song Contest with folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra’s Stefania, with Sam Ryder second for the UK with Space Man
Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine stand on the stage after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin
The folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra celebrate wildly after winning Eurovision for Ukraine in Turin this evening
After their earlier performance, the band’s front man, Oleg Psiuk, took advantage of the enormous global audience to make impassioned plea to free fighters still trapped beneath a sprawling steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol
Kalush Orchestra had earlier delivered an emotional rendition of their song Stefania for Ukraine. The band was the favourite to win amid Vladimir Putin’s invasion of their country
Britain’s Sam Ryder had looked on course for a shock victory before the public vote saw him knocked into second – the UK’s best result for 20 years
Sam Ryder’s (centre top) second place was the first time that the UK has placed in the top three at the Eurovision Song Contest in 20 years. The singer was top after the national jury vote with 283 points, but there was a huge surge of support for Ukraine in the public vote
Kalush Orchestra was the favourite to win amid Vladimir Putin’s invasion of their country, with both Russia and Belarus banned from competing in the contest.
After their earlier performance, front man Oleg Psiuk took advantage of the enormous global audience to make impassioned plea to free fighters still trapped beneath a sprawling steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol. ‘I ask all of you, please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal, right now,’ he said.
Zelenskyy earlier said: ‘Indeed, this is not a war, but nevertheless, for us today, any victory is very important. So, let’s cheer for ours. Glory be to Ukraine!’
The members of Kalush Orchestra dressed in elaborate outfits, including long multi-coloured fringed ensembles, a pink bucket hat and traditional patterns as they took to the stage.
Their performance, which combined rap and Ukrainian folklore, went down well with the audience of 7,000 in the Pala Olimpico, who cheered the group on with many waving Ukrainian flags.
At the end of the performance, which included break-dancing, the group thanked everyone for supporting Ukraine.
The band’s song, ‘Stefania,’ was written as a tribute to the frontman’s mother, but has transformed since Russia’s invasion on February 24 into a war anthem.
The lyrics ‘I’ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed,’ written by frontman Oleh Psiuk, are said to have taken on a special meaning in light of the war.
The six-member, all-male band received special permission to leave the country to represent Ukraine and Ukrainian culture at the music contest. One of the original members stayed to fight and the others plan to return as soon as the contest is over.
At the end of the performance, which included break-dancing, the group thanked everyone for supporting Ukraine.
Members of the band ‘Kalush Orchestra’ perform on behalf of Ukraine during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022
The stage is lit in the colours of the Ukraine flag as Kalush Orchestra of Ukraine perform live during the Grand Final of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest in Turin
Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine singing Stefania performs during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin
Members of the band ‘Kalush Orchestra’, Oleh Psiuk, Tymofii Muzychuk, Ihor Didenchuk, Vitalii Duzhyk, Oleksandr Slobodianyk and Vlad Kurochka, who perform on behalf of Ukraine
Britain’s Sam Ryder (pictured) and Sweden’s Cornelia Jakobs are each given a 10% shot while the Italian duo of Mahmood & Blanco have a 6% chance of winning
The 32-year-old TikTok star performed his uplifting pop song Space Man, which he co-wrote with Grammy-winning songwriter Amy Wadge, who has previously worked with Ed Sheeran and Max Wolfgang
Ukrainian service members watch the performance of Subwoolfer from Norway during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest
Singer Chanel performs on behalf of Spain during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin this evening
The contest is underway this evening with 25 bands performing in front of a live audience in the northern Italian city of Turin
WRS from Romania performs during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin this evening
The Rasmus from Finland singing Jezebel perform during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin
Members of the band ‘Subwoolfer’ perform on behalf of Norway during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022
Graham Norton, who once again anchored the contest on BBC One, said: ‘We weren’t sure they were going to make it but they have made it.
‘Their commentator did not make it, he is commentating from a bomb shelter.’
Formed in 2019, the group consists of founder and rapper Oleh Psiuk, multi-instrumentalist Ihor Didenchuk and dancer Vlad Kurochka.
During the show, fellow folk band Iceland’s Systur, who performed ballad Meo Haekkandi Sol, ended their performance saying: ‘This is for Ukraine, we love you.’
The final opened with an energetic performance featuring strobe lighting and projections of the sculpture of David by Michelangelo from Czech Republic’s We Are Domi singing Lights Off.
Finland’s rock group The Rasmus kicked off the first few performances with a powerful version of Jezebel, ripping their shirts off mid-show.
Marius Bear from Switzerland delivered a raw rendition of his track Boys Do Cry backdropped with simple lighting while France’s Alvan and Ahez had fire on stage to perform their track Fulenn.
Norway’s Subwoolfer dressed in yellow wolf costumes while performing a synchronised dance number and singing Give That Wolf A Banana.
Armenia’s representative, Rosa Linn, gave an emotional performance with her song Snap on a stage with a bed, lamp and chair all seemingly wrapped in white toilet roll.
Chanel from Spain singing SloMo performs during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena
Alvan and Ahez of France perform live during the Grand Final of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest in Turin this evening
Singer Jeremie Makiese performs on behalf of Belgium during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022
Alvan & Ahez from France singing Fulenn perform during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena
Sheldon Riley from Australia performs the song ‘Not The Same’ during the Grand Final of the 66th annual Eurovision Song Contest
Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord from Greece performs during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin
Nadir Rustamli of Azerbaijan singing ‘Fade To Black’ performs during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest
Spain’s entrant Chanel gave a jazzy performance to SloMo while the entire crowd sang along with Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco who sang Brividi, which featured a powerful rap, behind a back drop of twinkly lights.
The winner was chosen in equal parts by panels of music experts in each competing nation and votes by the viewing public.
Ukraine’s winners will take home a glass microphone trophy and a potential career boost.
The event was hosted by Italy after the Italian rock band Maneskin won last year in Rotterdam.
The victory shot the Rome-based band to international fame, opening for the Rolling Stones and appearing on Saturday Night Live and numerous magazine covers in their typically genderless costume code.
Twenty bands were chosen in two semifinals this week, and they competed along with the Big Five of Italy, Britain, France, Germany and Spain, which have permanent berths due to their financial support of the contest.
Russia was excluded this year after its invasion of Ukraine, a move organizers said was meant to keep politics out of the contest that promotes diversity and friendship among nations.
Sam Ryder of United Kingdom performs live during the Grand Final of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest in Turin
Konstrakta of Serbia perform live during the Grand Final of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest in Turin this evening
Twenty bands have been chosen in two semifinals this week, and will compete along with the Big Five of Italy, Britain, France, Germany and Spain, which have permanent berths due to their financial support of the contest
Singer Monika Liu performs on behalf of Lithuania during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 this evening
Members of the band ‘Subwoolfer’, Jim, Keith and DJ Astronaut performs on behalf of Norway during the final of the Eurovision Song contest
Malik Harris from Germany singing ‘Rockstars’ performs during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest
Ukrainian music fan Iryna Lasiy said she felt global support for her country in the war and ‘not only for the music.’
Back in Ukraine, in the battered northeastern city of Kharkiv, Kalush Orchestra’s participation in the contest is seen as giving the nation another platform to garner international support.
‘The whole country is rising, everyone in the world supports us. This is extremely nice,’ said Julia Vashenko, a 29-year-old teacher.
‘I believe that wherever there is Ukraine now and there is an opportunity to talk about the war, we need to talk,? said Alexandra Konovalova, a 23-year-old make-up artist in Kharkiv. ‘Any competitions are important now, because of them more people learn about what is happening now.’