It’s all about the zany outfits, accented English, stilted French and the dreaded nul points: the Eurovision Song Contest is an annual celebration of kinship and kitsch.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the most memorable contest when, on April 6, 1974, Brighton Dome was the stage for Abba’s unforgettable win.

The victory would catapult the little-known Swedish band to international stardom.

Eurovision 1974 should not have even been in Brighton, but Luxembourg, which had won both the 1972 and 1973 editions, was unwilling to host it two years in a row and passed the baton to the UK, who had made the top three both years.

The Argus: The group outside the Brighton DomeThe group outside the Brighton Dome (Image: Argus Photographic Archive)

The event created a real buzz in the city. Radio Brighton ran interviews with contestants and many were in town or on the beach doing photo shoots. There was a huge police presence around the Dome, due to an increased terrorism threat.

The city made a big impression on Abba’s Benny Andersson, who said: “The relaxation I felt strolling around Brighton, breathing all that beautiful, fresh, spring air was something fantastic. The town had a fascinating look and is like I always dreamed a British coastal town should look. I've promised myself that one day I'll spend some time there and get to know the place really well.”

The BBC had secured a rate for competitors capped at £15.95 a night for bed and breakfast at The Grand and The Bedford hotels.

Abba – made up of Benny, Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad – stayed at The Grand and celebrated Waterloo’s success in the appropriately named Napoleon Suite.

The show was a great opportunity to showcase Brighton and opened with scenes of the city, past and present. Brighton was in the spotlight again for the interval, which featured a film of The Wombles exploring and collecting rubbish in the Pavilion Gardens and enjoying the amusements on the pier.

The Argus: Brighton Dome ahead of the concert 50 years ago todayBrighton Dome ahead of the concert 50 years ago today (Image: Frederick Wackett)

Hosted by the Katie Boyle in a feathered flamingo-pink gown, the event was a huge success.

David Vine ran the TV commentary and was clearly taken by Abba, saying: “How about that for an onstage performance.

“Sweden, they’ve never won it but they’ve surely got to be up amongst the reckoning with that one. It’s certainly gone down well here inside the Dome in Brighton.”

The Argus:

Abba’s performance was pure fun from the start, with conductor Sven-Olof Walldoff unable to suppress his smile as he took his position in the orchestra dressed as Napoleon. Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Frida were also a sight to behold in their shiny epaulettes and silver platform boots. Agnetha’s royal blue jacket with matching hat and knickerbockers would become the most recognisable costume in Eurovision history.

Waterloo scored 24 points, six points clear of the Italian entry Si, which came second, pushing the Dutch, the bookies’ favourite, into third place. Waterloo went on to make the top ten in 20 countries.

In the UK alone, Abba have since notched up nine number one singles and ten number one albums.

With Sweden hosting this year’s Eurovision, it feels we have gone full circle.