What to expect when Taylor Swift comes to Cardiff with the Eras Tour

Taylor Swift performs at Groupama Stadium on June 02, 2024 in Lyon, France, wearing an earthy green dress
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

When Taylor Swift comes to town, everyone knows about it. Cardiff has been blessed with concerts from some true superstars in recent years including the likes of Beyonce and Harry Styles, but Swifties turn out in numbers very rarely seen elsewhere.

Taylor's first gig in Cardiff is sure to be a big one, even though she is only playing one night at the Principality Stadium. On June 18 - and very possibly in the days before - you'll start seeing Eras Tour outfits, friendship bracelets and huge queues, but for the uninitiated this can mean a lot of catching-up to do.

So here's your guide - whether you're a curious parent or partner of a Swiftie, a lapsed fan who's missed the last few years of Swift lore or just looking to get yourself hyped for what will be a very big day in the Cardiff calendar.Get your limited edition Taylor Swift OK! glossy mag here.

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Friendship bracelets

It all started from a fairly innocuous lyric in a song on the Midnights album: You're On Your Own, Kid. In a song about growing up and dealing with the harsh realities of the big wide world, she sings: "Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned / Everything you lose is a step you take / So make the friendship bracelets / Take the moment and taste it / You've got no reason to be afraid."

Almost overnight the 'friendship bracelets' line took on a life of its own. Swifties started making multicoloured bracelets spelling the names of their favourite albums, songs and lyrics - then started swapping them at concerts. Now you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone not wearing a friendship bracelet in the stadium on June 18.

This trend, born from a seemingly minor lyric, even had a role in sparking the relationship between Taylor and her now-boyfriend Travis Kelce. On his podcast, after going to one of her Kansas City concerts, he admitted he made a friendship bracelet to give her but didn't manage to meet her on the night.

The two are now dating and the friendship bracelets are now everywhere - and have evolved like Pokemon. Now, rather than just lyrics, they're made to spell out in-jokes - "my mind is alive," referencing her dazed reaction when her mum filmed her waking up after laser eye surgery and "she wasn't doing anything," as a nod to her argument with a security guard mid-performance.

So make the friendship bracelets - but maybe be ready to swap them with other Swifties. You can find them in a huge range of shops and online.

Huge merch queues hours before the concert

In basically every city Taylor has been to, the area around the stadium hosting her concert has been extremely busy from very early in the morning. That's because her tour merch is sought-after and some pieces sell out on each date - so people make sure to get there as early as they can.

This isn't necessarily anything new; we saw something very similar when Harry Styles arrived in Cardiff for his final Love on Tour shows. People were queueing around the block and it's very likely we'll see it again.

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Celeb-spotting in the VIP area

Taylor Swift is an extremely well-connected woman with some very well-known friends. Even before you get into those who have joined her on stage (including American trio HAIM and Mumford & Sons frontman Marcus Mumford) the list of Eras Tour attendees is an impressive one and everyone will be keeping an eye out on any additions to it in Cardiff. Travis Kelce fans may also be hoping for another cameo.

Emma Stone was spotted in the crowd in Glendale, Shania Twain in Las Vegas and Selena Gomez in Arlington so it's very possible a big name could show up in Cardiff. Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively - longtime friends of Taylor's - were seen at the recent Madrid concert with their kids. While it would be somewhat surprising to see them again so soon, some people have wondered whether Reynolds might show some affection to Wales - a place he's come to love since taking over at Wrexham AFC - and drop by in Cardiff.

Actress Blake Lively and actor Ryan Reynolds attend a game between the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs at MetLife Stadium on October 01, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
It's impossible to predict who might turn up but we can have our fun guessing -Credit:2023 Jim McIsaac / Getty Images

Hundreds of people outside the stadium - and even more trying to get the train

On a level perhaps unmatched by fans of any other artist, Swifties will turn up in their numbers wherever Taylor goes. Sitting on Fitzhammon Embankment to listen to a big gig from the outside has become a relatively common practice but this time it could reach levels Cardiff has never seen before.

Cardiff isn't like some of the American Eras Tour venues where there are huge gaps in the stands of stadiums allowing people to get a view from the car park; you will not be able to see a single thing from the outside of the Principality Stadium. But, especially if the roof is open, you should be able to hear the concert loud and clear.

As a knock-on effect of this and the main concert crowd, don't be surprised when you see the usual queues at Cardiff Central afterwards. Network Rail will be suspending engineering works on the line between Rhoose and Bridgend for the concert but as always it will be crowded - with a cross-party Senedd group recently branding trains for big events in Wales ' simply inadequate.'

Hundreds of fans queue to enter the concert in the vicinity of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
The queues will be long enough - but hundreds more could arrive to listen from outside -Credit:Europa Press 2024 / Getty Images

Surprise songs

If you didn't already have enough homework memorising every word of the 45-song-strong setlist then get ready for this - two of the songs are different every night and some of them are very deep cuts from Taylor's back catalogue. She'll usually play one surprise song on the piano and one on the guitar, but things have been changed up a bit recently.

More and more they have been mashups, some of them featuring songs from very early in the Taylor Swift discography - and tracks from the 31-song Tortured Poets Department double album have featured heavily since its release.

Many fans will be hoping to hear their favourite song - especially those who found Taylor's music through her debut album, which doesn't feature in the main set, or her third album, Speak Now, which in recent months has had just one song featured.

References to 'eras' and outfits based on them

It's the Eras Tour for a reason; in lieu of tours for the Lover, Folklore or Evermore albums (released before and during lockdown), Taylor set off on a 'greatest hits' tour and has since added two new albums to her repertoire in Midnights and The Tortured Poets Department. With the separate eras given their own dedicated section of the set, you'll be seeing a lot of themed outfits around Cardiff. Here's a rough guide to the different eras and how they'll be represented sartorially:

  • Taylor Swift AKA Debut: This self-titled album was released when Taylor was still 16 and chasing stardom as a country artist. Expect cowboy hats and boots, blue and turquoise colours and wavy hairdos.

  • Fearless: Her sophomore album and source of some of her biggest hits to date in Love Story and You Belong With Me. Expect cheerleader outfits, yellow and gold, fringed dresses and the Junior Jewels t-shirt from the latter song's music video.

  • Speak Now: An album with pop-punk influences and wall-to-wall bangers. Expect lots and lots of purple.

  • Red: Arguably Swift's first true step into mainstream pop. Expect the colour red (obviously) and some extremely Millennial outfits (stripes, brimmed hats and slogan tees).

  • 1989: Shake it Off, Bad Blood, Wildest Dreams - this album catapulted Taylor to new heights. Expect beach chic, steely blue, denim and sunglasses.

  • Reputation: An album hitting out at the media and other celebs' actions with a dark, reptilian aesthetic. Expect snakes, black clothes, sequins and cloaks.

  • Lover: Originally planned to tour outdoors in summer, 2021, this album had a bright, sunny vibe. Expect hazy pink and purple, bright sequinned dresses and bodysuits, rainbow patterns

  • Folklore and Evermore: Two sides of the same coin, these quieter folk-y albums were released in lockdown. Expect fabrics, plaid, greys and beiges, cardigans and plaited hair.

  • Midnights: The first post-lockdown album was back to synth-influenced pop, but the aesthetic was a bit less defined. Expect blues and purples and anything that looks like you'd be wearing it at midnight.

  • The Tortured Poets Department: Her most recent album and a dissection of breakups, ill-advised flings and starting over again. Expect people dressed like writers and poets, white dresses and cursive writing.

Several fans of Taylor Swift 'swifties' wait in the vicinity of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, before the second concert of the singer, on 30 May, 2024 in Madrid, Spain. One wears an Eras Tour-based denim jacket, another wears a Lover bodysuit and a third wears a Reputation-inspired outfit and makeup/jewellery
Some even go as far as making or buying exact replicas of the outfits worn on stage in the Eras Tour -Credit:Europa Press 2024

Themed parties and club nights

The hugely-popular Swiftogeddon nights are back with pre-tour parties at The Globe and Clwb Ifor Bach themed around specific albums, with bars and clubs across the city hosting unofficial afterparties on June 18. Revolution, Clwb and Retro will all be throwing their own Taylor Swift nights and there will doubtless be more joining them.

Chants and signals to learn

Every great concert includes a bit of audience participation, and there are some moments in Taylor Swift's show when the fans make their voices heard - and Taylor has acknowledged them on a number of occasions.

TikTok will be your friend in learning these; there's the chorus of "1, 2, 3, let's go, b****" between the intro and first verse of Delicate, fans filling in with Kendrick Lamar's "you forgive you forget but you never let it go" refrain in Bad Blood and the singing of the alternate "Taylor you'll be fine" in the second pre-chorus of Anti-Hero - and "Karma is the guy on the Chiefs" replacing "the guy on the screen," in reference to Taylor's relationship with the Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce.