Last night, the traditional welcome reception of the Eurovision Song Contest took place at the Zappeion Megaron gardens in the Athens city centre. Successfully in terms of attendance, different in approach. Most of the attendees who were present in 2004 and 2005 as well agreed almost unanimously; "A great atmosphere at the welcome party, but they didn't overrate it".
While welcome receptions featured speaches, great fireworks and mostly well-dressed people in previous editions, this year's official welcome was more of a pop concert with a buffet. After two singers sang short clips of this year's entries - Helena Paparizou and Sakis Rouvas performed in front of a mostly Greek audience, which wasn't only standing in front of the stage, but also in front of the fences that seperated the welcome party square from the 'outside world'. Nearly every delegation was present, and fans and journalists had their opportunity to socialise and have their photos taken with them.
Apart from a concert stage and a buffet, the welcome party area featured sponsor corners, a merchandising booth and several spots to order drinks.
After a modest fireworks, long after all the food was gone (which didn't take that long), people slowly moved to Syntagma Square to find themselves a bus or taxi back to their hotels or the EuroClub, to continue the party. Overall conclusion: a great welcome reception for the Greeks, a superb television event, a modest welcome to the delegations.