Written by Hannah Kitching
The 2017 Eurovision Song Contest is quickly approaching and, undoubtedly, many of you will be looking forward to donning your Union Jack clothing, covering yourselves in glitter and travelling to Ukraine to join in the festivities. It takes place from 9-13th May in the capital, Kiev. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that the political situation in Ukraine is tense at the moment so here is some of the best advice that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has to offer for staying safe and #travelaware (for more details, check out their Ukraine page online).
Make sure that all of your travel documents are up-to-date before you travel. Your passport must be valid for the duration of your trip, so whether it’s just for one night or three weeks, make sure it is valid. The same goes for travel insurance; it is better to be safe than sorry just in case you are injured abroad.
Before you go, read up on the advice of Prisoners Abroad and follow them on social media, just in case you get into any trouble abroad – according to the FCO, most trips to Kiev are trouble-free but this service provides a lot of useful advice that could prove helpful if you end up in a Kiev prison. Tensions can flare regarding homosexual public displays of affection as attitudes towards homosexuality can be less tolerant than in the UK, so just be aware of the potential discrimination that you may face if travelling as a same-sex couple; in Ukraine there is no legislation to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. For more specific LGBT advice, check out the FCO’s guide.
Some of the FCO’s other recommendations for tourists in Kiev over the next month are as follows:
- Use taxis that clearly display the company’s name and telephone number.
- For tourists with physical disabilities, the pavements and public transport can be difficult to navigate so be prepared for this.
- As with every city, pickpockets operate in tourist areas so keep your valuables safe.
- Drink bottled water which is readily available in all shops and hotels.
- Smoking and drinking are banned in public places whilst the penalties for taking drugs are severe so it is best to avoid all of this where possible.
If you’re planning on making the most of being abroad and travelling around before/after the event, just be aware that the FCO advises against all travel to Donetsk oblast, Luhansk oblast and Crimea due the political climate. If British nationals travel to these destinations, the FCO cannot offer consular services as the Ukrainian authorities currently do not have control of these areas.
The Eurovision Song Contest is to be held in the International Exhibition Centre in Kiev which is approximately 30 mins from the city centre and easily accessible by the Metro system (5 mins walk from the Livoberezhna Metro Station). The Eurovision Village, with live performances and special events, is open to everyone on Khreschatyk Street in Kiev for you to make the most of your time there.
Remember, if you do need any help or advice whilst in Kiev, the best source of information is the British Embassy which can be found at: 9, Desyatynna St, 01901, Kiev (+38 044 490 3660). The contact numbers for the Ukrainian emergency services are as follows:
- 101 – Fire
- 102 – Police
- 103 – Ambulance
For more information and to keep up-to-date with all the goings on in Ukraine in the run up to this hotly anticipated all-singing-all-dancing event, check out the FCO’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Get waving those flags!