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A Grownup’s Guide to Taking Kids to Taylor Swift’s ‘The Eras Tour’

Be the coolest, most-prepared plus-one for the live show (or the movie) with our handy guide

spinner image taylor swift performing onstage during her the eras tour at allegiant stadium in las vegas
Taylor Swift performs during "The Eras Tour" held at Allegiant Stadium on March 24, 2023 in Las Vegas.
Christopher Polk/Penske Media via Getty Images

Taylor Swift is not just for teen girls anymore — there are such things as Grownup Swifties. About 58 percent of the audience for her current The Eras Tour are ages 35 to 64, while just 37 percent are 18 to 34, according to QuestionPro research company. The Los Angeles shows were filmed for a concert movie, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, which broke first-day advance ticket sales records, could add yet another billion dollars to Swift’s tour sales, opens Oct. 13. Tickets to the movie cost $19.89 for adults, $13.13 for children and viewers over 60; it costs a bit more to see it in Imax and Dolby.

But what if you aren’t familiar with the titanic star who sings more than 40 songs from her 17-year career on the tour? And what if a young person you love has begged you to come along as a companion to see Swift live, and you’ve somehow managed to find tickets, which as of Aug. 15 cost an estimated average of $1,619 on resale markets? You’ll want to have fun at the show — and not just “Tolerate It,” to borrow the title of a tune Swift’s singing every night. So here’s what you need to know before you go — and it’s good to know even if you’re going to the film instead.

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Wear comfortable shoes: You’ll need them

You thought only Bruce Springsteen did three-hour-plus sets? Swift, whose previous shows in 2018 topped out at about two hours, has upped the ante with sets that generally start at 9 p.m. and end around 11:15. But it’s not just her performance that is literally SRO. Most of the audience will be standing throughout two openers, the first of which has been known to take the stage at 6:25 p.m. (five minutes earlier, even, than the ticketed time). Sure, you can be that person who is the only one sitting down in an entire section — and there’s no shame in admitting your stamina has its limits — but having a nightlong view of someone else’s back also has its limits.

Do not let the Swifties in your party down by getting stuck in traffic

However long you think you need to budget to be in your stadium seats by 6:30? Now, add an hour on to that estimate. Actually, tag on 90 minutes. Take it from us: Even some of the very best-laid plans can still end with a half-seen Paramore set (they’re one of the opening acts). And just because you haven’t heard of MUNA, Beabadoobee or Girl in Red, some of the mostly female artists rotating through Swift’s opening slots, doesn’t mean that your companions for the evening aren’t half as excited to see them as they are Swift. Throw in bigger names like Phoebe Bridgers or HAIM and the importance of an early home departure leaves all the more room for possible disappointment if you insist: “Nah, we’ll be fine leaving at 5.”

spinner image Fans taking a photo outside of the merchandise stand at State Farm Stadium in Arizona for the Taylor Swift The Eras Tour opening night
Fans at a merchandise stand for the opening night of Taylor Swift's "The Eras Tour" on March 17, 2023.
John Medina/Getty Images

If someone in your party is depending on in-person merch, by no means wait for the end of the show

You would think Taylor Swift merchandise stands would be so well-stocked that there’d be no danger of selling out. Wrong! At the opening shows in Arizona, “Sold Out” signs were tagged onto all sorts of items, with a notice that you could still order them at her online store. Even then, her website registered as being out of stock of many clothing items in the most popular sizes. The lines may look long as you’re entering the stadium, but it could end in disappointment if you bypass them then and think you’ll skip out during “Anti-Hero” to avoid the congestion. Better safe than sorry if there might be tears about going home without the coolest T-shirt. (P.S.: The only merch that is individualized by city is the posters, which have the venue and date stamped on them … but they’re not the most exciting tour prints we’ve ever seen.)

Remember, clear bags only

If you’ve been to a stadium concert or A-list sporting event lately, you’ll know this, but most Swift attendees probably haven’t been. So take heed: All the venues along the route won’t allow any bags inside the stadium that are bigger than a small clutch, unless they’re transparent. You do not want to do a high-speed forced march back to the car because you thought your purse was too gorgeous to count. As for cameras, anything that does not have a detachable lens should be good. (Bring the very best point-and-shoot with a zoom lens you can; even if you’re not into the music, you’ll find yourself being driven to document the show’s constant costume and production design changes anyway.)

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spinner image Taylor Swift performs onstage during Taylor Swift The Eras Tour" at State Farm Stadium in Arizona
Taylor Swift onstage at State Farm Stadium on March 18, 2023 in Swift City, ERAzona (Glendale, Arizona). The city of Glendale was ceremonially renamed to Swift City for March 17-18 in honor of "The Eras Tour."
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

If you are in the very back of the stadium, you probably think you have a bad seat  you don’t

Yes, for the beginning of the show, you might feel reliant on those huge LED screens to feel assured you’re in the same stadium as the star. But Swift and her dancers (and even the mobile members of her band) spend a lot of time on a long ramp that services the “back” side of the stage. The show has segments where she goes there and directs her performance to the very back of the house — including the coveted “surprise songs” segment. Lucky you! Anyway, the cinematography on those big screens is so terrific, it’s easy to feel like you’re getting the full action — or an IMAX-level representation of it — so you don’t have to worry about going home missing out on any intimacy.

If you tend to like Broadway, you’re probably going to like this show

We are about to give you a lot of information about set lists, because it’ll give you something to talk about with your companions, even if you’re not that personally invested. But rest assured that you don’t really have to have done a lot of research into Swift’s catalog to have a gas at these performances. Every few songs a major design change gives you new costuming, choreography or staging to experience. It’s the most action-packed three hours this side of the latest John Wick movie.

If you do like to come in prepared, though, you can download a set list ahead of time

When we attended Night 2 of the tour, we were surrounded by people checking the set list from Night 1 on their smartphones. Was it because they had to see how long it’d be till their favorite song was coming up? Measuring their physical strength against Swift’s remaining tunes? Checking to see if the penultimate song might be a good time to make an early exit and beat the parking lot jam? (Just for the record, the penultimate song is “Mastermind,” followed by a finale of “Karma.” And they’re both great.) Whatever the case may be, most of us are of an age where we like to have some kind of compass in all circumstances — and you can find yours in the set lists posted here.

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spinner image Taylor Swift performing onstage with her dancers during a concert at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
Taylor Swift with her dancers at AT&T Stadium on March 31, 2023 in Arlington, Texas.
Omar Vega/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

The set list changes only a tiny amount every night — but it’s those variations that mean everything to the Swiftie

Each Swift show on this tour runs like clockwork, but with a divine bit of planned spontaneity. Of the 44 songs she plays, 42 will be entirely predictable, and two will be entirely unpredictable. The “surprise songs” come near the end of the show, when Swift comes out to the end of the ramps and turns to her acoustic guitar or a piano to play two songs she hasn’t played any other night on the tour … and the fans will lose it when those first chords hit and they finally find out which tunes have been pulled out for only them. You know you’re in the presence of a true Swiftie when they say after the show they wish they could follow the entire tour and sit through all 3 hours and 15 minutes every night, just to get all of the 100-plus one-time bonus tracks she will have performed by the time the tour wraps up in August. One P.S. on this point: Among the standard songs of the night, Swift has made what appears to be one permanent substitution, as of this writing. Starting with Night 5, she took out “Invisible String” as the 24th song in the show and substituted “The 1.” (If you don’t care about this life-changing set list alteration, someone in your camp will.)

The show follows a format unlike any other major tour in history

Even some of us with decades of concertgoing experience will have never seen a tour that segregates the entire set list album by album. And it works beautifully. The show opens with six songs from Lover (2019), followed by three from Fearless (2008), followed by five from Evermore (2020), followed by… well, you can look up those spoilers for yourself. That “Eras” moniker wasn’t just pulled out of a hat.

Are there any omissions Swifties will be complaining about on the walk back to the car?

Two albums get short shrift: her self-titled 2006 debut record and her 2010 album Speak Now, which has only the ballad “Enchanted” as part of in the set list each night. If you want to sound like an expert, suggest that maybe she’s reluctant to promote it because she’s been re-recording her old songs with updated “Taylor’s Version” renditions, and she hasn’t gotten to the Speak Now album — though you’ve heard rumors that’s the next one she’ll do.

spinner image Fans singing along during Taylor Swift's performance at her concert held at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas
Fans singing along to Taylor Swift during her concert at Allegiant Stadium on March 24, 2023 in Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

Above all: Just give in

Resistance is futile … and fatuous! You don’t have to be under 40, or under 75, for that matter, to recognize that Swift is one of the great singer-songwriters of her generation — or, really, the ones above and below it. But that does involve some deep listening to the records that not everyone who has a preconceived notion about her generational appeal is willing to do. You can save discovering the albums for later, if you haven’t. Just enjoy this wildly entertaining show and let that soak in first. But, along the way, know that there’s a phenomenal amount of lyrical prowess waiting for you when you feel like taking a deep dive at home. As one of her many hits asks: “Are you ready for it?”

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