Eurovision fans hit the beach ahead of Saturday final

Swimmers and a jetskier look at a boat disguised as a delivery van after it carried out a publicity stunt in the sea on the eve of Eurovision final in Tel Aviv, Israel May 17, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Hundreds of tourists and concertgoers packed into a sea-front Eurovision park in Tel Aviv on Friday, soaking in the late spring sun ahead of the music competition’s Saturday final.

Tourists thronged around food trucks and lay on sunbeds as live music blared throughout the Eurovision Village, a fan-dedicated area for the 41-nation song contest in Tel Aviv’s Charles Clore Park.

Concerts and fringe events have popped up throughout the city and along its Mediterranean coast as fans and locals take in its night life and hit the beach between the contest’s qualifying rounds.

Last night’s semi-final saw Albania, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Malta, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland advance to Saturday’s final, where pop diva Madonna is due to make a guest appearance.

Israel was chosen to host the contest after local singer Netta Barzilai won last year in Portugal with “Toy”, propelling her to international stardom.

26 countries will compete in Saturday’s grand finale.

Israel’s hosting of the European music competition has drawn pro-Palestinian boycott calls to protest against Israeli policies.

Writing by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Frances Kerry