Ukraine has won the Eurovision Song Contest with folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra.
The act was the frontrunner since the invasion of Russia – prompting the organizers to ban the country from participating.
The country entered the competition in 2003 and its three wins make it one of the most successful of the newer competing nations – having triumphed in 2004 and 2016.
Kalush Orchestra received the coveted trophy and said: “Thank you for supporting Ukraine. This victory is for every Ukrainian. Slava Ukraine.”
During their performance, which combined rap and Ukrainian folklore, the group was dressed in elaborate outfits, including long multicolored ensembles with fringes.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Facebook post: “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!”
“Next year Ukraine will host the Eurovision Song Contest!
“For the third time in its history. And I believe – not for the last time.”
Among those offering congratulations, former Doctor Who star John Barrowman said: “Congratulations #Ukraine on your #Eurovision Win!
“Stick that where the sun doesn’t shine #VladimirPutin.”
British Sam Ryder finished in second place with his rousing pop song Space Man, the first time in 20 years that the United Kingdom has been in the top three.
Graham Norton, who presented the match 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 make our fortune.”
The 32-year-old Tik Tok star won the crowd, dazzling in a one-piece suit studded with beads and pearls.
After winning the national jury by 283 points, beating favorites Spain and Sweden, Ryder said: “There is so much gratitude, what an experience.”
Ryder was the 22nd act to perform at the grand finale in Turin, Italy, playing guitar mid-show to a crowd of 7,000 fans in the Pala Olympica arena who sang along.
He became famous by covering songs on TikTok during the lockdown, gaining 12 million followers and attracting the attention of global stars, including Justin Bieber and Alicia Keys.
Paul Hourican, EU head of music operations at TikTok, said: “From Sam’s very first TikTok to his fantastic result at Eurovison, we’ve been fans every step of the way. Our community has always known his star power, his artistic talent and his phenomenal voice, and we’re thrilled the world has seen it too.
“Congratulations to Sam and his whole team on his great result and of course Ukraine as very worthy winners.”
Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills, who commented on the semi-final of the song contest, posted a video with Ryder shortly after the announcement, along with TV presenter Rylan Clark who chanted “UK, UK, UK”.
Ryder said: “Thank you all for supporting it, it has been an unbelievably, unbelievably rewarding journey.”
The singer-songwriter defeated favorites Spain, whose contestant Chanel gave a jazzy performance to SloMo as the entire audience sang along with Italian Mahmood and Blanco singing Brividi, with a powerful rap, behind a backdrop of twinkling lights.
The grand finale opened with an energetic performance with strobe lighting and projections of the sculpture of David by Michelangelo from We Are Domi from the Czech Republic singing Lights Off.
During the show, fellow Icelandic folk band Systur, who performed ballad Meo Haekkandi Sol, ended their performance with the words, “This is for Ukraine, we love you.”
Finnish rock group The Rasmus kicked off the first few performances with a powerful version of Jezebel and ripped their shirts off halfway through the show.
Marius Bear from Switzerland delivered a raw rendition of his song Boys Do Cry with simple lighting as background, while France’s Alvan and Ahez had the fire on stage to perform their song Fulenn.
The Norwegian Subwoofer dressed in yellow wolf costumes as he performs a synchronized dance number and sings 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 apparently wrapped in white toilet roll.
Estonia closed the show with Stefan performing a catchy rendition of Hope, adding at the end of his performance, “Don’t lose your hope for a better tomorrow.”
The Italian rock band Maneskin, reigning champion of the Eurovision Song Contest, performed during the live show, along with singer-songwriter Mika who sang a medley with Grace Kelly and Happy Ending, among others.
The Eurovision final featured the 20 successful countries from the week’s two semi-finals, as well as the so-called big five of the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Eurovision executive supervisor Martin Osterdahl said in a statement that the organization’s focus is on next year’s competition and its “unique challenges”.
“The Eurovision Song Contest is the only cultural event that truly unites Europe. This year it was more important than ever to bring millions together through our shared values and love of music.
“Now we are going to plan for 2023 with winning broadcaster UA:PBC.
“Obviously there are unique challenges in hosting next year’s competition.”