Melodifestivalen (“The Melody Festival”) is an annual song contest held in Sweden to determine the country’s representative for the Eurovision Song Contest. Since its inception, the festival has produced six Eurovision winners (ABBA in 1974, Herreys in 1984, Carola in 1991, Charlotte Nilsson in 1999, Loreen in 2012 and Måns Zelmerlöw in 2015).

The first Eurovision Song Contest took place in 1956, but Sweden didn’t begin to participate until the third contest. At the Eurovision Song Contest 1958, Sweden’s representative Alice Babs finished in the 4th place. She had been chosen by Sveriges Radio (SR) without broadcasting a selection.

The inaugural Melodifestivalen took place in 1959. The winning song was chosen out of eight entries by four juries in the cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, and Luleå. Although the winning song, “Augustin”, was performed by Siw Malmkvist, the SR decided that it would be performed by Brita Borg at Eurovision. This policy was terminated in 1961.

Originally a single-night event, Melodifestivalen expanded in 2002 to include semi-finals. This allowed to raise the number of contestants from around a dozen to 32. As of 2017, the contest features 28 entries: 14 are selected by Sveriges Television (SVT), 13 come from special invitations, and the 28th entry is selected via the Svensktoppen Nästa competition. The selection process begins about seven months before the festival.

The televised rounds of Melodifestivalen include six live shows held over five weeks. They include four semi-finals, a Second Chance round, an a grand final. All shows are hosted by different cities, with the grand final taking place in Stockholm. The final features twelve entries.

The winner is chosen by a positional voting system that combines jury voting and televoting. First, eleven international juries announce their votes, and then the televoting/appvoting result is announced. The song with the highest number of points wins the contest. If there is a tie, the song with the highest number of votes from the public is declared the winner. The winner receives the Den stora Sångfågeln (The Great Songbird) trophy presented by the previous year’s winner.

With an estimated four million viewers, which is almost half of the country’s population, Melodifestivalen is the most popular television show in Sweden. The event is also broadcast on radio and online.

In 2021, all shows were held in Stockholm without a live audience due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Photo: Mehmet Celik



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