eurovision For Members

How safe is it to visit Malmö during Eurovision?

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
How safe is it to visit Malmö during Eurovision?
Police outside Malmö Arena where the Eurovision semi-finals and final will be held. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

It's Eurovision week in Malmö, Sweden, with tensions high due to Israel's participation in the contest. What should visitors be aware of during the week?


What’s the situation like in Sweden in general?

Sweden’s terror threat level was raised from a level three (elevated) to a level four (high) on a five-point scale in August last year.

This is based on an assessment by the Security Service (Säpo) and Swedish police following a spate of Quran burnings last summer, combined with a global disinformation campaign which grabbed headlines the previous year after it alleged that Sweden's social services routinely "kidnap" Muslim children to secularise them.

Sweden's terror threat level had previously remained at three ("elevated threat") since 2010, with the exception of a period in 2015 when it was temporarily raised to four ("high"). Level five, the highest level, has never been used in Sweden.

A level four means that there is a high chance that actors have both the intent and capability to carry out an attack.

At the time of the announcement, Säpo chief Charlotte von Essen stressed that the decision to raise the level was not linked to a specific incident, but should be seen as "a strategic and long-term assessment". She urged the general public to keep living their lives as normal, but pay attention to information from Swedish authorities.

Police have been working together with government agencies and the event organisers to ensure that Eurovision goes smoothly. A national special incident (nationell särskild händelse) was activated on April 12th stretching until May 24th, in order to allow Swedish police to better allocate resources during Eurovision and other big events occurring afterwards, like Taylor Swift’s concerts in Stockholm later in May.

These are often set up to deal with sudden incidents, like wildfires or the refugee crisis in 2015, but can also be used for planned events, like the visit of then-US President Barack Obama to Sweden in 2013.


The police operation commander for Eurovision, Petra Stenkula, told a press conference in April that the police had "built a robust system with different areas of responsibility to ensure a safe and secure event".

"The Swedish police are ready for Eurovision," she added.

“One thing that we can almost certainly assume will happen is that rumours will spread about Eurovision, and possibly that more coordinated disinformation campaigns will take place. Do not believe everything you hear and do not spread information without critical thinking. If there is information on threats, let the police assess information that concerns the safety of the event."

An example of a rumour that quickly spun out of control was the hunt for a snake in the Eurovision Village in Malmö's Folkets Park last week, after it had been spotted by a security guard. Sparking concerns it had escaped from a nearby reptile centre, it quickly grabbed headlines, but in the end it turned out to be a so-called slow worm, a legless lizard which is not dangerous.

A banner at a May Day parade in Malmö, calling for the boycott of Israel and Eurovision. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Are there any rules I should be aware of?

In November last year, Sweden announced a ban on bags at all major events due to the heightened terror threat, with exceptions for people who have a medical need to bring a bag, on-duty journalists, or those with accompanying children who need a changing bag.

This means that you won’t be able to take a bag into any shows at Malmö Arena itself or into the Eurovision Village at Folkets Park, unless you can prove that you qualify for an exemption. If you are allowed to bring your bag in, security staff will check it before you enter.

Palestinian flags are also banned at the Malmö Arena shows – you can only wave flags of participating countries or the Pride flag. That rule has been in place at Eurovision events in previous years as well, so it's not a new rule due to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Malmö police are also bringing in reinforcements from Denmark and Norway during Eurovision week, promising that there will be “visible” security measures, including police with submachine guns. Swedish police write on their website that this is a precautionary measure and nothing to worry about.


What about demos or protests?

There are a number of demonstrations and protests which have been approved during the Eurovision week, with police saying that “most of them” are related to the war between Israel and Hamas, and the row over whether or not Israel should be allowed to participate. 

Malmö is a city with a large Palestinian population, and several protests have already been held in the city in recent months.

Police will be in attendance at protests coming up this week, both in order to protect demonstrators exercising their right to freedom of speech, but also to ensure that things don’t get out of hand if the demonstration presents a danger to those present, or disrupts traffic. 


The protests include two pro-Palestine demonstrations scheduled for May 9th and May 11th, both starting at 3pm at Stortorget and walking to Mölleplatsen via Pildammsvägen, and one pro-Israel demonstration planned for May 9th on the central Davidshalltorg.

Sweden's Eurovision entry, Marcus and Martinus, taking selfies with a fan in Malmö on April 3rd. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Is there any specific advice for visitors?

Police encourage visitors to report anything suspicious to security guards or police officers, either in person or on +46 77 114 14 00, if it’s not an emergency situation. Sweden’s emergency number is 112.

There’s no specific advice when it comes to terror threats or protests, but general advice for visitors includes keeping phones and wallets safe, being aware of possible pickpockets and not leaving drinks unattended while in bars. Criminals may also target people who are visibly drunk.


General advice for visitors is available in English on the police's website.

Israel has advised its citizens against travelling to Malmö during Eurovision week, defining it as a “moderate” threat.

"[There are] credible concerns that terrorist factions will take advantage of the demonstrations and the anti-Israel atmosphere to execute attacks on Israelis coming to Sweden for the Eurovision,” the National Security Council writes. “Swedish authorities have bolstered security measures in Malmö, but it is important to note that unlike the Israeli delegation to the contest, individual Israelis are not protected," it writes.



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