6 things to know about today's Eurovision finale

Its Eurovision time again and, as Europe’s longest-running made-for-television singing contest builds to its crescendo on Saturday, here are some of the most important things to know about it.

Europe's biggest made-for-TV singing contest will broadcast live from Stockholm

Azerbaijan's Samra rehearses her song Miracle in the Ericsson Globe Arena ahead of the Eurovision finale. (Maja Suslin/TT News Agency/Reuters)

Europe's longest-running made-for-television singing contest reaches a crescendo on Saturday evening in Stockholm. Here's what you need to know about the big event. 

Why is it being held in Stockholm?

Because it's the capital of Sweden, the country that won last year's contest. Mans Zelmerlow, the hunky Swede who won in 2015 with the song Heroes, is co-hosting this year's show with Swedish comedian Petra Mede. Here they are performing during the second semifinal stage of the contest on Thursday. 

(Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty)

Meet the contest's front-runners:

Russia's entry has all the right ingredients for a Eurovision winner: a thumping techno beat, catchy refrain and a buff man in a tight shirt riding on an iceberg through space (the show is known for its over-the-top stage performances.) This is Sergey Lazarev singing You Are The Only One on Tuesday.

(Martin Meissner/Associated Press)

But don't think Russia has it in the bag. The upbeat anthem J'ai Cherché, sung by France's Amir, and Dutch singer Douwe Bob's country-inspired tune Slow Down, shown below, featuring a suspense-building 10-second pause, were semifinal favourites. Australia, Ukraine and host nation Sweden are also among the bookmakers' picks to win (yes, there is betting.)

(Maja Suslin/TT News Agency/Reuters)

Australia competes in Eurovision? 

The Aussies have an entry for the second year in a row, despite Australia not being part of Europe. The show is extremely popular down under, though, and it's been broadcast there for more than 30 years. This is Dami Im, who won Australia's X Factor singing show, celebrating her advance to the finals this week. 

(Maja Suslin/TT News Agency/Reuters)

Eurovision doesn't have a lot in the way of rules.

The Eurovision rulebook says: "Artists shall perform live on stage, accompanied by a recorded backing track which contains no vocals of any kind or any vocal imitations." That's it. Despite being broadcast live to an estimated 200 million mostly European viewers, the rules do not say anything about nudity or live animals, hence this performance by Ivan from Belarus. 

(Maja Suslin/EPA)

Everyone performs in English.

Originally, artists had to sing in their national language, but since 1999 they are free to perform in any language, which these days is almost exclusively English. This is Barei rehearsing her song Say Yay! on May 8. For the first time in Eurovision history, Spain's entry will sing in English, a decision criticized by the Royal Spanish Academy.

(Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency/Reuters)

The show is live on U.S. TV for the first time this year.

The Eurovision Song Contest's cult following in the gay community is credited with propelling bearded Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst (that's her with her wax likeness at Madame Tussauds in Germany on May 8) to victory in 2014. It's that audience of mostly gay male fans the show's U.S. backers are banking on to tune in to Saturday's finals, which can be seen on the American LGBT cable network Logo.

(Matthias Nareyek/Getty)

The live broadcast of the grand final runs on Saturday starting at 4 p.m. ET and will stream at

With files from CBC News