Taylor Swift comes to London: 'I haven't ever seen this level of excitement'

Taylor Swift arrives in London today, and the capital is rolling out the red carpet. “I haven’t ever seen this level of excitement for any other artist arriving in London,” says Laura Citron, chief executive of London and Partners, which runs the capital’s official sightseeing guide Visit London.

"Taylor Swift is an icon...We've never had an artist this big, for this long in town. Swifties are some of the most committed fans out there. And London Swifties feel a special connection because of her relationship with the city."

After previous UK stops in Edinburgh, Liverpool and Cardiff, the Eras Tour finally hits Wembley for a total of eight nights – three this week and then five more in August – the first time a solo artist has done that many at the stadium. Of course, all dates are sold out.

“It’s unique globally because London is the only city where she’s doing eight shows too, which we like to think is because London is Taylor’s favourite city.”

According to Viagogo, Taylor Swift’s Eras tour outsold tickets for the Euros, the football championship currently taking place in Germany, more than twice over.

People from more than 113 countries have bought tickets to the UK leg of her tour, and fans are coming as far afield as Australia, some 16,900 miles, to make the pilgrimage to see Swift in London, the secondary ticketing platform found.

Swift’s relationship with London is certainly special. “Home is where the heart is, but God, I love the English,” Swift sings on London Boy, her homage to the city and ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn.

Taylor Swift fans camped out overnight ahead of tonight’s show (Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)
Taylor Swift fans camped out overnight ahead of tonight’s show (Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)

The capital is mentioned countless times in Swift’s lyrics too, with Hampstead Heath, Soho, Shoreditch, Brixton, Camden Market and Highgate all referenced.

Citron has seen first-hand via Visit London how the city is rolling out the red carpet for Swift’s arrival, with extensive events planned across the city. “There’s everything you can imagine,” she says, referencing everything from Taylor Swift quiz nights and glitter parties to dedicated Swift club nights, meals and cocktails.

“I think the level of excitement we’re seeing is unique to Taylor Swift. We have big artists in London week in, week out and we’re very lucky that some of the biggest musicians in the world regularly tour here. But this feels quite special.”

At the Wembley Hilton, where many fans are staying, the hotel is running an ‘Afternoon Tay’ experience – a Swift spin on traditional afternoon tea – while restaurant chain Gaucho is putting on ‘Brunch – Taylor’s Version’.

Martin Williams, chief executive of Gaucho, said they’ve had an “overwhelming” demand for tickets to the Taylor-themed events, which include themed elements ranging from glitter artists to bracelet making, and a Swiftie-themed menu, featuring “her favourite dishes and drinks”, from Buttermilk Chicken to the Cruel Summer Cosmo.

Similarly, 100 Wardour Street have a three-course brunch complete with live band and DJ blasting out Swift’s classics, while Market House in Brixton are running The Ultimate Taylor Swift Quiz.

Puttshack are also putting on a Swift brunch and mini golf putting party, while Club de Fromage at the O2 Academy in Islington are hosting an unofficial Taylor afterparty until 3am on Saturday.

The newly-founded London Boy Tours are treating fans to personal walking tours of all the city locations Taylor mentions in her songs, while Madame Tussauds are gearing up for increased visitors too as fans flock to see Swift’s waxwork.

At Box Park Wembley, long-running Taylor Swift club night Swiftogeddon will be getting Swifties in the mood ahead of the shows, playing back-to-back bangers from every single era.

“As soon as the dates were announced, we knew we had to do something special for this,” Swiftogeddon founder and DJ Dave Fawbert says. “We’re going to be warming everyone up and getting them in the party vibe.”

Fawbert, a self-confessed Swift mega fan, started the nights back in 2019. A frequent sell out, it sees fans come together from around the country to dress up, dance and sing along to Swift songs well into the early hours. “It’s an incredibly welcoming club,” he says.

Taylor Swift performing on her Eras Tour at Edinburgh (PA Wire)
Taylor Swift performing on her Eras Tour at Edinburgh (PA Wire)

Even the London Eye is getting involved. In August, when the popstar returns, the attraction is offering a ‘Taylor by candelight experience’, of a string quartet playing Swift’s hits as patrons look out over London’s skyline.

Citron says the tour will bring a £1bn injection to the capital. “We think the Era’s Tour is going to be a huge boost for the London economy. Because of Londoners and people from across the UK going to see Taylor Swift, but also because we’re expecting thousands of international visitors to travel to London, and to stay and do lots of other things in London when they’re in town.”

According to a new report from Barclays, each of the 90,000 fans in attendance at the sold-out shows per night are expected to spend, on average, £848 each on tickets, travel, accommodation, outfits and other expenses, while a further £79 will be spent on merchandise, and £59 on a pre-concert meal.

On her latest album, The Tortured Poet’s Department, Vauxhall pub The Black Dog, received a name check.

“It’s amazing the effect Taylor Swift can have,” the pub’s owner, Jonathan Murray, laughs, reflecting on how they’ve been inundated with Swifties from around the world since the song’s release last month. “We’ve already got over a hundred requests for bookings in August to coincide with the next round of Taylor’s London dates, and we’re expecting even more this week too.”

Murray is still coming to terms with his “humble little pub” becoming a UK landmark overnight.

“It’s been surreal. But we’re just so grateful for the extra business and aware it’s such a blessing. The Swifties who come in are all really lovely and respectful and they’re mixing well with our locals. They’re swapping friendship bracelets with one another and just seem overjoyed to be there. It’s a lovely vibe.”

Another business that has seen a boost is Kentish Delight, a kebab shop in Kentish Town where Swift was a regular during her time in London: the shop even featured in her video for End Game. “She came in so many times,” Ahmed Khan says of Swift’s visits to his shop, where she favoured, he says, the chicken kebab.

“We have lots and lots of fans visiting us; today we had two from Canada. It’s always very busy now, people coming to do TikToks and Instagrams.” Khan, who is a self-confessed Swiftie himself, says his business changed forever because of Taylor. “I hope she visits when she’s here. We’re expecting a lot more fans this week with her tour arriving. It’s really helped my business.”

One superfan attending the show this weekend is Kate Crudgington, who spent more than £100 on her standing ticket – and over an hour trying to buy it during frenzied online ticket sales last year – and will be attending the concert with friends.

“It was a bit of a shocking day for our bank accounts when we got the tickets and we were online for hours, but it will be worth it in hindsight,” she laughs. This will be the second time Crudgington has seen Swift on the Eras tour, after seeing her in Lisbon.

“Knowing what that atmosphere and crowd is like and how friendly everyone is, I feel like if that’s replicated in London, that will be absolutely wonderful,” she says.

“People were absolutely euphoric watching her. It was really wholesome and a level of community that I’ve never experienced at a stadium gig.”

 (David Parry/PA Media Assignments)
(David Parry/PA Media Assignments)

Crudgington, who co-founded Get In Her Ears, a collective that supports inclusive spaces for women and non-binary people in music, thinks a big part of the popularity of the shows stems from how all-encompassing they are.

“It’s a level of community and respect for each other on a scale that is rarely seen. Everyone wants everyone else to have the best time. It’s very safe and immersive when you’re there: it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s a safe space to be very emotional, to have feelings and not be ridiculed.”

Crudgington has high hopes for some of Taylor’s “secret songs” that could appear mid-set this weekend. Songs Swift hasn’t played yet include London Boy, although since it’s an ode to her ex-boyfriend Alwyn, fans are sceptical.

More likely could be The Black Dog, Come Back, Be Here, and her most recent love letter to the city, So Long, London. Florida!!! with a guest appearance from Florence and the Machine (who has hinted she could be at the London shows) could be another.

Frequent collaborators Ed Sheeran and The National’s Aaron Dessner are also reportedly in the mix, as are the Haim sisters, who Swift was spotted out with recently.

“I think ultimately what makes this all so special is that there’s such a strong affection for Taylor Swift in London,” Citron adds. “And that reflects her affection for the city too. For this reason, it probably feels more personal maybe than some of the other legs of the tour and that’s why some of the most dedicated Swifties are making the journey.”

Crudgington agrees. “She has a lot of London connections. She clearly loves London, and all of this just feels that more exciting because of that. It will be a very special few days for our city.”