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Sanremo Music Festival: Italy’s most famous song contest

A quick guide to the 2024 Sanremo Music Festival.

Italy's most popular song contest returns to its usual venue at the Teatro Ariston in Sanremo, a seaside town on the northwest Ligurian coast, with 30 artists battling it out over five nights from 6-10 February 2024.

The event, whose official title is the Festival della canzone italiana di Sanremo, has been held every year since 1951, making it the world's longest-running annual televised music competition at a national level.

Now in its 74th edition, Sanremo was the inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest.

As per tradition, whoever wins Sanremo will have the possibility to represent Italy at the Eurovision which is scheduled to take place in Malmö from 7-9 May 2024.

Claim to fame

Over the years Sanremo has launched the careers of numerous Italian acts, notably Andrea Bocelli, Laura Pausini, Eros Ramazzotti and Zucchero, as well as the 2021 winners, global sensation Mäneskin.

Mahmood & Blanco won the 2022 edition of Sanremo with their song Brividi while Marco Mengoni won in 2023 with his song Due vite.

The festival's biggest claim to fame internationally is the song Nel blu, dipinto di blu, popularly known as "Volare", performed by Italian singer-songwriter Domenico Modugno at the 1958 Sanremo before it took the world by storm.

Love it or hate it

Surrounded by hype, the annual extravaganza tends to divide Italy into the "love it or hate it" camps, along with Italians who profess to never watch it but in reality are among the millions glued to their television screens.

Who hosts Sanremo?

The 2024 host and artistic director, for the fifth year in a row, is TV presenter Amedeo Sebastiani, better known as Amadeus.

Amadeus will be joined by five co-hosts, one for each of the five evenings, including last year's Sanremo winner Marco Mengoni, singer Giorgia, television personalities Teresa Mannino and Lorella Cuccarini, and comedian Rosario Fiorello.

This year's special guests invited to perform at Sanremo include Hollywood actors Russell Crowe and John Travolta, both of whom have appeared in previous editions of the festival, as well as pianist Giovanni Allevi and dancer Roberto Bolle.

Italian tennis champion Jannik Sinner, fresh from his Australian Open triumph, made headlines recently for turning down an invitation to appear as a guest of Sanremo.

This year's festival comes amid the ongoing tractor protests by Italian farmers, who have threatened to demonstrate in Sanremo. Amadeus told reporters on Monday that he would welcome the farmers on stage, describing their protest as "absolutely right, sacrosanct, for the right to work and to protect their jobs".

Amadeus hosts Sanremo for third year

Notable hosts of Sanremo over the years include veteran TV presenters Pippo Baudo and Mike Bongiorno, who each hosted about a dozen editions of the festival.

In 2001 Sanremo was presented by pop icon Raffaella Carrà who died in 2021 aged 78.

2024 performers

The following artists and acts are in competition this year: Alessandra Amoroso, Alfa, Angelina Mango, Annalisa, BigMama, Dargen D’Amico, Diodato, Emma, Fiorella Mannoia, Fred De Palma, Gazzelle, Geolier, Ghali, Il Tre, Il Volo, Irama, La Sad, Loredana Berté, Mahmood, Maninni, Mr. Rain, Negramaro, Renga e Nek, Ricchi e Poveri, Rose Villain, Sangiovanni, The Kolors, Santi Francesi, Clara, and bnkr44.

Sanremo origins

The origins of Sanremo go back to post-war Italy when the festival was established to revitalise the battered economy and forge a new cultural identity.

Between 1953 and 1971 the festival welcomed guest artists from abroad who launched their songs to a new Italian audience.

Among the many international acts who performed at Sanremo during this era were Louis Armstrong, Stevie Wonder, Cher, Dionne Warwick and Shirley Bassey.

Festival format

Each act performs a new, original song, which has never been released, with the winner selected by a jury and an online public vote.

The artists, divided into two groups, perform their songs over the first two nights of the festival.

The singers then return to the stage to perform again, while the Friday night will see the acts perform covers of Italian or international songs recorded between the 1960s and 2000s.

On the last night the singers will perform their songs again before the winner is announced.

Where to watch Sanremo

The festival will be screened by state broadcaster RAI 1 every evening, starting from 20.35, and in streaming on Rai Play, from 6-10 February.

How to follow Sanremo

The festival can be followed on its official website as well as its social media channels.

Cover image: Teatro Ariston during the opening night of the 70th Sanremo Music Festival on 3 February 2020. Photo credit: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com.

General Info

Address Via Giacomo Matteotti, 212, 18038 Sanremo IM, Italy

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Sanremo Music Festival: Italy’s most famous song contest

Via Giacomo Matteotti, 212, 18038 Sanremo IM, Italy

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