International Swifties descend on Cardiff for gig

Three Taylor Swift fans pose for a group photograph outside the merchandise truck at Cardiff's Principality Stadium ahead of The Eras Tour.
Jessica O'Brien, right, with friends Jackie & Brittney, has flown from Pennsylvania, Taylor Swift's state, for the gig [BBC]

Jessica says she had never heard of Cardiff until she booked tickets to Taylor Swift's gig in the city.

"When the tickets became available for over here, I snatched them," said Jessica O'Brien, 39, from Philadelphia, USA.

Jessica, like countless others from around the world, has parted with thousands of pounds - or whatever their country's currency is - to see the pop icon perform on stage.

"Anyone will do anything to see the Eras tour," she said.

While she might be from the same state as the record-breaking pop star, it was actually cheaper for Jessica to visit another continent than it was to get tickets for Swift's concert in her native Pennsylvania.

"I think my sister thinks I'm crazy for doing this," she said.

She says she's spent roughly $1,200 (£945) for her travel, accommodation and tickets in Cardiff, whereas a ticket alone in the US was $3,000 (£2,365).

Irish-American Maggie McGarvey, who is making her way from the mountains of Switzerland via London to see Swift in Cardiff, said she was "definitely a Taylor swift tourist".

The 23-year old is determined to get in on the action and she too has been willing to part with her cash and cross borders to get her hands on a ticket.

"I'm flying into London and then getting on a bus from Gatwick to Cardiff," she said.

"I'm very excited."

Colorado-based Brea Gilchrist has been talking about bringing her American family to Wales to meet her in-laws for years.

When she managed to get her hands on four tickets for Taylor Swift’s only gig in Cardiff, she knew it was the perfect excuse to fly them all over.

"This Taylor Swift concert was just the perfect impetus to make it happen," said Brea, who is married to Gavin from Cardiff.

"My whole side of the family is coming with us. My parents, my sister, her husband, and her three kids."

Despite only having four tickets for the gig, 14 members of her family are flying from the US and will spend almost two weeks exploring south Wales.

"I'd say that we will be part of the crew that's boosting the economy just a bit in Wales over the next couple of weeks,” she said.

"I've grown into a Swifty over the past year. We're doing the friendship bracelets and we've got the outfits picked out."

Brea said it's been "really exciting" to see all of the generations get hyped about the concert, including her three-year old daughter, her mother and her teenage nieces.

"I think that it's just a really powerful, unifying experience," she said.

Jen Levine-Fried, 51, has been a Swiftie for a decade, but was left standing outside her home state's Gillette Stadium listening to the Eras Tour setlist when she found she couldn't get tickets for less than $1,000 (£790).

Out of the 53 shows in the USA so far, Jen couldn't find reasonably prices tickets for any of them.

"What we're finding in the States is because there is no regulation on re-sales, the prices are out of control. The cheapest tickets that were available for the shows in Boston last year were over $1,000 for restricted view seats on the re-sale market," she said.

"We paid £425 for our tickets for the Cardiff show, so it's considerably cheaper."

Two women stand in front of a painting.
Jen Levine-Fried and her friend have travelled from Boston, Massachusetts, to Cardiff via Brussels and London - to see more of Europe on their trip [BBC]

With limited holiday days to take time off from work, Jen is only staying in Wales for two days - and flies back to Boston the day after the Principality Stadium gig.

"I really didn't know much about Wales at all before getting my tickets - so I'm really looking forward to learning more and doing some sightseeing on Tuesday before the show, and seeing a new country and city," she said.

"I never thought I would get to visit Wales.

"I travelled all of this way. I want the opportunity to see the show - and I really want to experience this cultural moment."