German city shakes off its name as it gets ready for Taylor Swift’s arrival


A German city has shaken off its name and dubbed itself “Swiftkirchen” as it prepares for the arrival of Taylor Swift and many thousands of her adoring fans.

The world’s biggest music star is due to play three dates at Gelsenkirchen, near the Dutch border in western Germany, later this month and ahead of her arrival, the Swifties have taken over.

With tens of thousands of fans expected to descend on the city for her shows on 17, 18 and 19 July, the new name has been coined and adopted as a welcoming gesture.

A yellow street sign bearing the name “Swiftkirchen”, which translates roughly as “Swift’s Church”, was unveiled on Tuesday by schoolgirl Swiftie Aleshanee Westhoff, who suggested the name to the city’s mayor, Karin Welge, and started a petition a few weeks ago.

Mayor Welge thanked the teenager for her “great idea” in a letter accepting the proposal.

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The yellow sign, decorated with a pink portrait of the pop icon, has been placed in the city centre and several more are going up at “highly frequented locations” city spokesman Markus Schwardtmann told the dpa news agency.

One of the poorest cities in Germany, Gelsenkirchen is a former coal mining town that has never recovered from the decline of its main industry.

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The Ruhr city is known for its football team Schalke, and a massive stadium that occasionally attracts international entertainers like Swift.

The singer will also receive her own stone on the Gelsenkirchen Walk of Fame, alongside local notables like football coach Rudi Assauer and writer Ilse Kibgis, and during her concerts, the city will host open-air parties with karaoke performances.

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Need transport to get to the big gig? A “Taylor Swift streetcar” is already up and running, dpa said.

Further fan attractions are being planned but kept secret for the time being. “There will be lots of big and small surprises so that the Swifties have plenty to discover in Gelsenkirchen,” Mr Schwardtmann said.

Swift’s concerts in Gelsenkirchen are sold out and will take place at the Veltins-Arena, which has space for up to 70,000 Swifties. Further Eras Tour shows are planned for Hamburg and Munich.

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