Eurovision Song Contest
ESC logo 2003
Theme Magical Rendez-vous
Final date 24 May 2003
Venue Skonto Hall], Riga, Latvia
Presenter(s) Marie N
Renārs Kaupers
Director Sven Stojanovic
Executive supervisor Sarah Yuen
Host broadcaster Flag of Latvia Latvia Latvijas Televīzija (LTV)
Interval act Iļģi, Brainstorm, Marie N and Raimonds Pauls
Number of entries 26
Debuting countries Flag of Ukraine Ukraine
Returning countries Flag of Iceland Iceland
Flag of Ireland Ireland
Flag of the Netherlands.svg The Netherlands
Flag of Norway Norway
Flag of Poland Poland
Flag of Portugal.svg Portugal
Withdrawing countries Denmark, eurovision Denmark
Flag of Finland Finland
Flag of Lithuania Lithuania
Flag of Macedonia F.Y.R. Macedonia
Flag of Switzerland Switzerland
Voting system Each country awards 1–8, 10, and 12 points to their ten favourite songs.
Nul points Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom
Winner Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey
"Everyway That I Can" by Sertab Erener
Eurovision Song Contest
2002 Wiki Eurovision Heart (Infobox).svg 2004
The Eurovision Song Contest 2003 was the 48th annual Eurovision Song Contest. The contest took place in Riga, Latvia on 24 May 2003, following Marie N's win in the 2002 contest with the song "I Wanna". It was the first win and hosting of the competition for Latvia with only their third participation after debuting at the 2000 contest. Latvijas Televīzija (LTV) chose the Skonto Hall as the venue after conducting a bidding process among several cities and venues in Latvia. The hosts for the contest were the previous year's winner Marie N and former Latvian representative at the 2000 contest, Renārs Kaupers, who competed in the contest as part of the band Brainstorm. The design of the contest was built around the theme "Magical rendez-vous", which represented the meeting of the various European nations coming to Latvia and encountering Latvia's versatile landscapes. Twenty-six countries participated, which saw the return of Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway and Poland after having been relegated from competing the previous year, Portugal returning to the contest after withdrawing the previous year, while Ukraine participated in the contest for the first time. Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Macedonia and Switzerland were required to withdraw due to their poor results in the 2002 contest.

The winner for 2003 was Turkey with the song "Everyway That I Can" sung by Sertab Erener, which scored 167 points, narrowly beating Belgium into second place with a margin of 2 points and Russia into third place with a margin of 3 points. This was the first win for Turkey at the Eurovision Song Contest. Norway and Sweden rounded out of the top five, placing fourth and fifth respectively. The United Kingdom achieved their worst result to date, coming in last place (26th) and scoring no points from any of the twenty-six voting nations, however they avoided relegation due to being one of the "Big Four" countries at the time. The 2003 contest was the last contest to take place on one evening. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) revealed that it would be adding a semi-final show to the competition in order to accommodate the growing number of interested countries wishing to take part in the contest. This was also the last contest in which a relegation system was used to determine which countries would participate in the following year's contest. The contest also marked the fifth time in the history of the competition where all participants were participating for the first time; there were no returning artists that had already competed in the contest on a previous occasion. As the Belgian entry was sung in an imaginary language, this was the first time the contest featured a song not performed in English or a native language to the country.


On 22 August 2002, Latvian public broadcaster Latvijas Televīzija (LTV) announced that it had chosen the Skonto Hall in Riga as the host venue for the 2003 contest.

Latvia won the Eurovision Song Contest 2002 on 25 May 2002 in Tallinn, Estonia with the song “I Wanna” performed by Marie N. This was Latvia’s first victory in the contest, which also carried the right for LTV to organise the 2003 contest. LTV initially had budgetary concerns with staging the contest. The chairman of the National Radio and Television Council Ojārs Rubenis stated that if the government presented no budget guarantees, the council, which owns shares in LTV, would vote against organising the contest. Rubenis elaborated that LTV was prepared to cover the creative side and broadcasting of the contest, but additional funds would be needed for infrastructure, hotels and other financial issues.

The Government of Latvia allotted €5.3 million for the event with a further €1.1 million being provided by the Riga City Council – covering the anticipated organisational costs for the contest. A task force that included members from LTV, the National Radio and Television Council and state secretaries was formed to explicitly work on organisation of the contest and report on the estimated expenses.

Bidding phase

500px-Relief Map of Latvia

Locations of the candidate cities. The chosen host city is marked in red.

Three cities were considered as host city of the contest: Riga, Ventspils and Jūrmala. LTV equested proposals from the three cities concerning how they plan to organise the contest. Riga City Council offered the Mežaparks Open-air Stage, Skonto Hall and the Ķīpsala International Exhibition Centre as potential venues for hosting the contest. Ventspils bid to host the contest at the Ventspils Olympic Centre with a pledge of support from city mayor Aivars Lembergs, who added that Ventspils could also provide two cruise ferries that could be used to accommodate up to 8,000 guests. Jūrmala City Council offered the Dzintari Concert Hall with plans to expand and upgrade the facility and surrounding infrastructure.

LTV’s organisational task force later decided to proceed with the bids from Riga and Ventspils, eliminating Jūrmala and the Mežaparks Open-air Stage in Riga. On 15 June 2002, the EBUReference Group decided in conjunction with the organisational task force in Latvia that Riga would host the 2003 contest with the venue option between the Skonto Hall and Ķīpsala International Exhibition Centre being decided upon by LTV. LTV ultimately chose the Skonto Hall as the venue to stage the contest.