Deputy Culture Editor - Travel
How travelling for concerts can change tourism
In an age where travelling is the most accessible it’s ever been, why wouldn’t you take a trip for something you’re passionate about?
There has long been a history of people travelling to "entertainment capitals" such as London’s West End and New York’s Broadway to see musical theatre. The West End alone has hosted theatrical performances since the seventeenth century, setting the stage for a long line of visitors to the region.
Fast forward to the twenty-first century, and it’s easy to see the impact that theatrical tourism has had on these cities: the West End has reported their highest ever audience attendance for the year ending 2017, with over fifteen million tickets sold according to the Society of London Theatre. In addition, The Broadway League published statistics detailing how New York’s Broadway has seen its annual show attendance reach an all-time high of over thirteen million for the 2017-18 season. It is plain to see how beneficial the concept of travelling to attend theatre shows is for cities’ tourism.
However, is the same ideology shared for musicians? When artists embark on a tour, the instinct is to purchase tickets for their nearest show - right?
Not for everyone. There is a growing trend of fans travelling to see an artist in a new destination. On paper, it may sound ludicrous – why on earth would you fork out hundreds of pounds just to go see a concert that’s coming to Glasgow anyway? Doesn’t that defeat the whole point of a "tour"?
Personally, as a student who works part-time twenty hours a week, I don’t always have enough free time for both recreational and holiday time off during the semester. It makes sense to kill two birds with one stone, and utilise the often scarce leisure time that I find myself with to its fullest extent.
Hence, planning weekend ventures to London to sightsee one day and attend a concert the next makes sense logistically (and doesn’t break the bank with a handy student railcard), while keeping you occupied for the full forty-eight hours.
With the tendency of fans to travel longer distances for shows on the rise, the world around you becomes smaller. You interact with fellow fans in the queue from across the globe, and learn that you have more in common with a fellow fan from Latvia than you’d have ever thought. It allows the planet to become a much more interconnected place, and facilitates the sense of adventure and wanderlust that we all harbour.
It’s also important, however, to highlight the significance of concert residencies in pioneering the concept of travelling for concerts. Residencies – shows in which an artist plays the same venue for an extended period of time – were, according to The Guardian, established in 1944 by Liberace.
Liberace played an extensive run of shows in Las Vegas, Nevada, and introduced the world to the concept of travelling to a destination with the main intention of attending a concert. Such a notion was further normalised by artists such as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra playing Las Vegas residencies at the height of their careers throughout the twentieth century. More recently, residencies have been taken up by Celine Dion in Las Vegas from 2011 until 2019, and Bruce Springsteen in New York this year, proving that concert residencies are showing no signs of slowing down.
It's clear how an artist’s performance calendar can influence an individual’s decision-making on where to travel. Venturing to a new country can be an intimidating experience – if you are able to plan your trip around the comfort of an artist you like, why wouldn’t you? We should embrace the fact that travelling is an opportunity to make memories and experience new things – tying it in with a concert is a useful and reliable approach to ensure you have an incredible trip.