While visiting New Zealand in 2018, one of my favourite stops was Dunedin. We stayed in an AirBnB on the Otago Peninsula and ran the business for a few days to help out the owners while they were away for the Easter holidays. About a year before that, the place got completely booked out, to the disbelief of the owners. Soon they found out what was happening: Ed Sheeran announced a tour in Australia & New Zealand and planned to come to Dunedin to give three shows in the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Dunedin’s new gold rush
As with all the concerts of Ed Sheeran these days, all three shows (and over 100.000 tickets) sold out pretty quickly. This meant that the city had to prepare to welcome 65.000 visitors over the course of 4 days – that is over 50% on top of the ones already living in Dunedin. Which is obviously a big deal for a city this size.
But it is not the first time Dunedin had to go through this type of migration: in the 19th century the population tenfolded in 30 years due to the gold rush. So the media considered Ed Sheeran’s three sold out concerts as a new type of gold rush for the city.
And it lived up to the expectations: the shows brought around 34 million NZ dollars to the Dunedin economy.
Paint the town Ed
For those of you who don’t know: New Zealanders love Ed and Ed loves New Zealand. In 2016, he took a gap year and spent some time in Kiwiland. He considered citizenship in 2017 and was in touch with authorities but it never went through so far. He said it could happen in the future, but I’m guessing he has other stuff on his mind right now… like world tours for example.
Anyway, when Ed Sheeran announced he was coming to town, people were so happy and prepared to welcome him in the best way possible. And man, did he spark a creative movement! Dunedin completely transformed into what looked like… Dun-Ed-Sheerin-town?
The inner city was closed to traffic for six days to create a central pedestrianised hub for ‘all things Ed’. There were family-friendly activities, food trucks, street furniture and artistic projects. For the occasion the city funded an impressive mural with, surprise surprise, Ed Sheeran in it. They literally painted the town Ed.
Oh, and because it was the Easter weekend, there even was an ‘Easter Ed Hunt’ where people were asked to send snaps of certain locations in the city to win prizes. And the list goes on.
New Zealanders are pretty passionate when it comes to Ed Sheeran… be sure to check it out rrriiight here ⬇️