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Taylor Town’: how Liverpool transformed itself for Taylor Swift

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The name of music royalty hangs from Liverpool’s historic buildings. Art installations mark the biggest pop hits. An army of loyal fans is about to invade. But this isn’t Beatlemania. This is Taylor Town.

For one fortnight only, Liverpool will be transformed into a Taylor Swift “playground” to give the US megastar a “proper scouse welcome” as her history-making world tour lands in the UK.

More than 150,000 Swifties will descend on the city for her three sold-out shows at Anfield football stadium next month, while thousands more “Taylor-gaters” are expected to arrive without tickets.

Buoyed by its Eurovision 2023 success – and eyeing a slice of the £1bn riches surrounding Swift’s UK shows – Liverpool is rolling out the red carpet. A dedicated council taskforce, codenamed Taylor Town, has been drawing up its plans for more than nine months.

Eleven Instagram-friendly art installations will be placed across the city from 8 to 16 June, each symbolising one of her 11 albums. There is a baby grand piano, bought for £300 from Facebook Marketplace by Make CIC, a local social enterprise, decorated with living moss to represent Swift’s Evermore “era”.

Fans will be able to pose for selfies on a supersized gold throne – a £400 online purchase – wrapped in snakes and skulls to mark her Game of Thrones-inspired Reputation album.

The University of Liverpool is also getting in on the act with a free Tay Day of lectures about Swift, ending with a “critical karaoke” session in which academics will perform their research to some of the star’s biggest hits.

If that sounds a little mad – well, Swift has that effect. All 600 tickets to the session were snapped up within hours (a similar level of demand to a lecture last week by chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty).

The idea, said Claire McColgan, Liverpool’s director of culture, is to “turn the whole city into an experience”.

“What we found with Eurovision is that people came who didn’t have tickets – and you’ve got the city which is like a playground for people who are going to a concert,” she said.

“We did it for Eurovision, so why not do it for Taylor?”

The council has been watching the seismic impact of Swift’s global tour as it moves from country to country. And it really is seismic: in Seattle and Los Angeles, the crowds’ reaction to Shake It Off registered on the Richter scale.

Officials in Liverpool said they would be closely monitoring her gigs for any small-scale earthquakes at Anfield, a stadium accustomed to exuberant fans. The cheering this time “will be slightly higher-pitched”, said McColgan.

With Swift only playing 15 nights across four UK cities – Liverpool, Edinburgh, Cardiff and London – tickets are swapping hands online for as much as £3,600 each for a child’s ticket, while a non-VIP seat at one of Swift’s eight Wembley shows ranged from £562 to £4,723.

Research by Barclays earlier this month estimated the 34-year-old singer will bring a £1bn boost to the UK economy, with the average fan expected to splurge £848 on restaurants, hotels, new outfits and merchandise.

For a city where roughly one in five jobs rely on tourism, it’s a no-brainer. But the vision for Liverpool is longer-term too: “These young women will soon be choosing where they want to go to university,” said McColgan.

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