May 2024

Gig-tripping: will you fly for music?

Lucy Thackray
Lucy Thackray


As the Taylor Swift machine comes to Europe, fans are criss-crossing the globe in a bid to catch this pop megastar’s sought-after tour dates. Lucy Thackray examines the growing trend and meets the music superfans taking to the skies…

If you were one of the millions of Taylor Swift fans scrambling to buy tickets for the Eras Tour, you’ll know that getting in meant getting creative. “I registered for dates in Cardiff, Wembley, Edinburgh, Stockholm and Paris,” says Rachel Paterson, who, despite appearances, doesn’t consider herself a die-hard Swiftie. Interested in bagging tickets for her two nieces, aged 13 and 25, she’d been alerted to the ticket drop by a WhatsApp group of live music fans she’s been in for years. “The first access link I got was for a Stockholm date, so I grabbed three tickets,” she says. This alone makes Rachel ‘Auntie of the Year’ but, better still, she has decided to turn the trip into a city break, staying on an extra day to see Stockholm’s highlights.

Tour dates in another city, country or even continent are becoming more of an enticement

This is ‘gig-tripping’ ‒ the emerging travel trend of 2024. With tickets often released many months before tour dates, fans are increasingly making a whole trip out of a concert ticket. In Skyscanner’s 2024 travel trends report, 44% of US travellers said they would fly short haul to see their favourite artist live, with 18% saying they would travel long-haul. Here in the UK, a third of travellers said they would consider going abroad for a gig if it helped to cut costs. Hotels and tour operators are leaping on the trend with special packages and perks around the biggest tour dates. And this is the year for it: aside from Taylor Swift, the Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blink 182 are all hitting the road. For fans, tour dates in another city, country or even continent are becoming less and less of a barrier and more of an enticement.

“When a band we like announces they are touring, I’ll see if they’re playing somewhere we want to visit,” says seasoned gig-tripper Sharon O’Dea. “It’s a good excuse to book a trip.” As well as adding a focal point to their travels, she and her husband use gigs as a way to get under a destination’s skin. “Venues tend to be in less explored parts of town,” she points out. “You’ll see a different side of the city and get chatting to local fans.”

Chicago-based photographer Joshua Mellin sees travelling for music almost as a full-time job. He flew to Milan to see Beyoncé and Jay-Z (“I sat in the first few rows for barely over $100, where the same ticket in Chicago would have cost more than my entire trip to Italy”), watched Paul McCartney in Tokyo and plans to catch Olivia Rodrigo in Dublin this year. “I’ll build my travel schedule around it,” he explains. “It really raises the emotional factor of a concert to pair it with a new experience or visiting a unique venue. By treating gigs as destinations, I’ve made so many connections with people all around the world. It’s worth it for that alone.”

Five of the biggest tours of 2024
Plan the rest of your year from concert to concert

Taylor Swift
Tour: The Eras Tour
Dates: 9 May-8 December
Continuing the record-breaking tour that’s already traversed the US, Asia and South America, the shape-shifting pop icon is revisiting ten studio albums in a whirl of colour, sparkles and rhinestone guitars. Fit right in by dressing in an archive Swift look from one of the eras.

The Rolling Stones
Tour: Hackney Diamonds Tour ’24
Dates: 28 April-17 July
The seemingly immortal octogenarian rockers will hit North American cities including Vegas, Chicago and Vancouver over 19 spring and summer dates. Expect fans of all ages in signature lip-logo tees shimmying to classics from ‘Gimme Shelter’ to ‘Satisfaction’.

Janet Jackson
Tour: Together Again
Dates: 4 June-30 July
The sultry 1980s pop diva revisits favourites ‘Control’, ‘All For You’ and ‘What Have You Done For Me Lately’ on this final USA leg of her greatest hits tour. Swinging by San Francisco, Denver and NYC among others, her fans will enjoy throwback rapper Nelly as a support act.

Bruce Springsteen
Tour: Springsteen & E Street Band World Tour
Dates: 12 April-22 November
The Boss brings his keys-pounding, sax-wielding E Street Band to a host of US cities as well as the UK, Ireland and 12 other European locations. Loved by all ages, Springsteen draws in a rather diverse bunch ‒ all primed to scream “1,2,3,4” at the correct moment during ‘Born to Run’.

The Smashing Pumpkins
Tour: The World is a Vampire
Dates: 7 June-16 July
The 1990s alt-rock heroes will rack up 22 dates across Europe, prompting fan pilgrimages to the likes of Mönchengladbach, Germany, and Gliwice, Poland, as well as London and Paris. Singer Billy Corgan hopes that “all the self-proclaimed weirdos and outsiders of the world can get together and have a party”.

This article has been tagged Destination, Culture