Sanremo is a small Italian town near the border of France. Located on the Ligurian coast, Sanremo is known as a beautiful resort town, but its true claim to fame is the music festival held there every year. The festival della canzone Italiana, commonly called the Sanremo Music Festival is one of the oldest singing competitions in Europe.

The song contest began in 1951 and has been held in Sanremo every year since. Well beloved in Italy and beyond, the Sanremo Music Festival even served as the inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest.

The festival has launched the careers of incredibly famous Italian singers, including Andrea Bocelli, Zucchero, Eros Ramazzotti, Laura Pausini and Massimo Ranieri. But Sanremo is almost as much about the host as the talented performances. Every year, eager audiences tune in to see who will present the show. This year, Italian pop legend Gianni Morandi will host the show, with George Clooney’s latest love interest, Elisabetta Canalis and Italo-Argentinian model and TV star Belén Rodríguez as co-host.

The festival begins this year on February 15 and goes until February 19. On February 17, exactly one month before the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of a united Italy, the festival will celebrate the event with a special programme which will include Verdi’s “Va, pensiero", "'O sole mio", "Viva l'Italia" and other songs that Italians love and which represent their history. Below is a list of the singers who will participate this year and the famous songs they will sing on the 17th.

Patty Pravo Mille lire al mese
Nathalie Il mio canto libero
Roberto Vecchioni 'O surdato 'nnammurato
Giusy Ferreri Il cielo in una stanza
Luca Madonia con Franco Battiato La notte dell'addio
Max Pezzali Mamma mia dammi 100 lire
La Crus Parlami d'amore Mariù
Anna Oxa 'O sole mio
Modà-Emma Here's To You, La ballata di Sacco e Vanzetti
Tricarico L'italiano
Al Bano Va' pensiero
Anna Tatangelo Mamma
Luca Barbarossa e Raquel Del Rosario Addio, mia bella, addio
Davide Van De Sfroos Viva l'Italia

The song contest features many more participants than it has in the past and is now a huge television event. Italian audiences will be tuning in for an extravaganza: music, fashion, entertainment and awards. But you don’t have to be in Italy to view the annual affair. To see international broadcasts, check the Rai programming schedule by selecting your geographic area. The festival will also be broadcast on Radio1 Rai.

The Sanremo Festival is always an Italian entertainment experience, and with special secret guests expected this year, there's no excuse for missing the singing or the spectacle!