Happy Birthday Eurovision Song Contest

Happy Birthday Eurovision Song Contest
Lys Assia on stage in Lugano in 1956.
Lugano, Switzerland -

Today, the 24th of May marks the 56th birthday of the Eurovision Song Contest. It all started in 1956 when just seven countries participated in the inaugural event, held in the Teatro Kursaal in Lugano, Switzerland.

Each of seven nations which participated, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg and Italy had two songs in the contest.

The contest was won by Lys Assia with the song Refrain for Switzerland. The song was composed by Géo Voumard and Émile Gardaz and conducted by Fernando Paggi.

No details of the voting have ever been made public. Each country was represented by two jurors, who could also vote for their own entry, and the winner was simply revealed by an announcement. The contest was presented by Lohengrin Filipello.

The first contest is not known to exist in any archive, although there is newsreel footage that includes part of the winning reprise by Lys Assia.

Lys Assia interview

Watch the interview we conducted with Lys Assia in 2011.

The contest has changed a lot over the past 56 years, and embraced more and more countries, and has been at the forefront on technical development within the television industry.

Throughout the decades it has remained Europe's Favourite TV Show.

Happy Birthday Eurovision Song Contest.