This is the Most Watched Competition on TV in Sweden

Swedens Melodifestival
Sweden's Melodifestival | ©Greger Ravik/Flicker
Judi Lembke

Sweden’s Melodifestivalen is cheesy, silly – some say ridiculous – but the annual competition to choose the country’s entry for Eurovision is one of the most popular events on the yearly calendar. And while it might seem a bit over the top to outsiders, Melodifestivalen is as serious as a heart attack to Swedes, so mock it at your peril.
Since Eurovision’s debut in 1958, Sweden has competed in the annual music competition 56 times, won six times, and produced the most successful Eurovision act of all time, with a little band called Abba.

Sweden’s first Eurovision winners Abba

Ever since Abba’s win, Eurovision fever has grown and grown and the annual competition to choose Sweden’s Eurovision entry has become more popular than Eurovision itself. This is particularly so after Swedish public broadcaster SVT began televising Melodifestivalen in 2000, making the final of the contest the most popular television programme in Sweden. Add in radio and internet audiences and an estimated four million people tune in, which is nearly half the Swedish population.

Dilba performs at Melodifestivalen in 2011

But the question as to why Sweden is so obsessed with both Melodifestivalen and Eurovision is not easily answered. Sure, they are second only to Ireland in number of wins but this is a country of cool, collected Scandinavians known for their minimalistic style and taste – how can they go gaga for the schlock fest that is Melodi? The answer lies in Sweden’s obsession with music.

Sweden is the world’s third largest exporter of music, which is no small feat considering there are less than 10 million people in the country. That obsession with music – and the pride taken in representing Sweden to the world – is one of the main drivers of the Melodi mania. Swedish artists see Eurovision as a chance to launch an international career, or maybe revive a somewhat dormant one.

So each February the results of each round of Melodifestivalen are breathlessly reported on the front pages of the papers, even the most hipster of hipsters will happily host a dinner party with mates to watch things unfold, and hotly argued debates will break out over the water cooler at the office each Monday. When the winner of Melodifestivalen is announced social media feeds will fill up with discussion as to whether the winner was worthy and what sort of chance they have at Eurovision.

Mariette Hansson will compete with ‘A Million Years’

If Sweden doesn’t win Eurovision – or doesn’t place well – this leads to more debate that can last for weeks or even months. And when the next Melodifestivalen rolls around the excitement will start to build all over again.

So if you’re in Sweden during Melodifestivalen don’t bother trying to get tickets to one of the six rounds or the final – they’re sold out well in advance. Instead, try to get invited to a house party, where you can immerse yourself in the mania. Alternatively, understand that no matter where you are – a restaurant, a bar, walking down the street – the fever will be all around you and it’s more than likely the show will be seen on a screen close by.

Here’s a taste of music by the participating artists. Who do you think will win the honour of representing Sweden at Eurovision 2017?

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article