Eurovision is the ultimate cheese – car crash telly so bad it’s actually really really good. And with the 2022 final almost upon us it’s as good a time as ever to look back on some of the more memorable acts (as well as those we’d rather forget). No doubt this year’s comp will bring the usual sprinkling of power ballads, a plethora of sparkly outfits, weird and wonderful singers and the dreaded yet familiar “nil points” for the UK. But it’s not just overenthusiastic singers and platform-booted death metal rockers Europe can churn out at a tub-thumping pace, the countries who participate in Eurovision are pretty good at producing an impressive gingerbread house or two as well. I thought it would be fun to take a quick sweet tour of some of Europe’s finest creations and have my very own Eurovision gingerbread competition. So here goes…. Sweden – Next Level gingerbread View this post on Instagram A post shared by Caroline Eriksson (@caroline.d.eriksson) Sweden kind of claimed Eurovision for its own when Swedish band Abba won in 1979, putting the country firmly on the international music stage forever more and they’ve had similar success with gingerbread too, breaking the glass ( or should that be gingerbread??) ceiling on many occasions. This life-sized gingerbread house or pepparkakshus in Swedish was on display at Stockholm Central Station in 2009 to promote a margarine brand. And you can’t mention Sweden and gingerbread without talking about artist Caroline Eriksson. Her models are simply mind blowing, as much for their creativity as well as their top level gingerbread engineering skills (curved gingerbread is something I still grapple with now) – A stonking Nine points. Norway – Gingerbread Village View this post on Instagram A post shared by Annie’s Garden Design (@avbushnell) The Scandi countries are light years ahead when it comes to building gingerbread on an epic scale. The Norwegians don’t just build one house, they build an entire village every single year. The annual Pepperkakebyen in Bergen has become something of a major tradition with villagers building everything from small homes to well-known landmarks. Such feats of engineering, not to mention collaboration, definitely knock most other countries out the park so they receive a very well deserved eight points. Germany – Lebkuchen View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ribana Poša (@ribce82) Now you’d think Germany would be bursting with gingerbread houses but you’d be wrong. Despite Hansel and Gretel featuring a wonderful edible house, albeit with a witch in it, Germans actually tend to favour Lebkuchen – a softer gingerbread biscuit or cookie – which tastes delicious with a bitter black coffee. They make Lebkuchen hearts and decorate them with colourful icing to make beautiful edible gifts. Not quite reaching the dizzying heights of full-scale houses but a worthy entry nevertheless – Six points. Spain – Casa de jengibre To be fair Spain isn’t the first country you’d think of when it comes to gingerbread and in all honesty, you’re probably more likely to find a charcuterie chalet there than you are a traditional gingerbread house. But….it is a tradition which is gaining traction with increasing numbers of mums making them with their children during the festive season. Spain’s Eurovision efforts are also a bit middling of the road too. Despite early wins in 1968 and 1968, the country hasn’t quite managed to reach those dizzying heights since. Rodolfo Cikilicuatre’s Baila el Chiki-Chiki performance in 2008 is up there in the all-time cringe stakes, dressed as an extra from a Borat movie and playing a toy guitar. But that’s about as good as it gets – four points. UK – Pomp and Circumstance View this post on Instagram A post shared by Museum of Architecture MoA (@museumofarchitecture) The UK is also not known for its traditional gingerbread house building skills but if it’s adopted by our Stateside cousins then it generally arrives here soon after. Think Halloween ten years ago and Halloween now, that’s where gingerbread is at in Blighty. And its allure is growing fast with some seriously talented builders out there. Check out the Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City – the annual edible city is built by architects, designers and engineers to connect the public with architecture. Of course, Britain’s Eurovision entries are usually a total shit show (anyone remember watching Scooch through your fingers?!) although they weren’t always. At one point we were actually rather successful having produced five winners, including music heavyweights like Cliff Richard, Lulu and Sandy Shaw. But political point scoring and a longstanding anti-British bias have left us languishing down the bottom of the points grid for the best part of two decades now. We’re never ever likely to win Eurovision ever again and I am biased of course but based on our gingerbread efforts I’m awarding the UK ten points. France – le pain d’epice France has a special place in my heart having lived and studied there in my early 20s and despite Macron and his post-Brexit Napoleonesque posturing I’m still as in love with it now as I was then. I have to say though I have never seen a French gingerbread house…until now. A quick search on Google reveals the French are actually quite partial to a bit of gingerbread although their creations are thus far on the average side. This maison constructed from gingerbread is pretty cool but it’s not enough to propel France to the top of the leaderboard. Sorry France, as much as I love you it’s an average quatre points from me! Ukraine – Gingerbread for freedom? Ukranian comedian Verka Seduchka Ukraine has produced many Eurovision delights but who can forget the drag queen Verka Seduchka’s star turn in silver? Looking like a tin foil-wrapped alien, she strutted around stage giving an absolute corker of a performance which earned them second place in 2007. As for gingerbread it’s probably not foremost on the Ukrainians’ minds currently – they’ve got their hands full fighting the evil despot who is Vladimir Putin. But the Ukranian Embassy in the USA did produce a wonderful creation of its Swallow’s Nest Castle for the Gingerbread Diplomacy Contest last year. Nine points for effort and hope. Finland – Piparkakut As another Scandi country you can reasonably expect Finland to produce some pretty cool gingerbread houses and you’d be right. It’s such a tradition that national broadcaster Yle launched a competition a while back to find the best house and the winners didn’t disappoint. However, their gingerbread pales in comparison to some of their Eurovision entries. I don’t remember Lordi’s song at all, but they won the competition back in 2005 looking like a cross between Star Trek’s Klingons and a group of extras from Game of Thrones. Who’d have thought prosthetics and a penchant for fake silver axes could do so well. Result: Seven points Ireland – Twin trouble! Ireland’s most famous twins, Jedward, looked pretty spectacular in their silver get up for Eurovision 2012. Sadly, their spangly costumes didn’t bring them the luck they hoped for and they languished in 19th place. The fair country of Ireland does somewhat better in the gingerbread stakes – take a look at this replica of Belfast City Hall – but is probably better known for its Guinness and Shamrocks. Result: Five points Denmark – honningkagehus You’d expect Denmark to be up there with the likes of Sweden and Norway when it comes to gingerbread stakes but sadly not. A quick sweep of the internet reveals their efforts, whilst very pretty, are no match for their Scandinavian cousins. Their Eurovision efforts however, fare much better. Chirpy singers Hot Eyes came fourth and third in the Nineties with their renditions. A respectable six points. And the winner is…. The UK naturally! Let’s face it we’re never ever going to come close to winning Eurovision again but at least we can give our continental partners a run for their money at the dessert table. Here’s to another fun-filled and cringeworthy evening of Eurotrash cheesy pop at its finest. Cheers!