Annual Elvis Festival in Australia: Fans on a 'pilgrimage' to world's largest tribute to Presley

An Elvis Presley impersonator waves before boarding a train at Sydney Central Railway Station departing for the Parkes Elvis Festival, in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Reuters/Jaimi Joy

Sydney: The Parkes Elvis Festival, the world's biggest annual tribute to the iconic musician Elvis Presley, will be held till January 14 in Australia and hundreds of hip-shaking and wig-wearing Presley fans on Thursday began their 'pilgrimage' to the music fest. Revellers in their sequin-encrusted jumpsuits danced to several of the King's biggest hits at Sydney's Central railway terminal before catching the 'Elvis Express' train to the rural town of Parkes, 357 km (222 miles) westward.

Passengers on the six-hour train trip will be treated to a steady stream of Elvis-themed entertainment, with tribute artists belting out the King's biggest hits along the journey. "It's just a lot of fun, we go from carriage to carriage entertaining the people, they dress up the carriages, we're all there to have a good time and I guess that's what makes it special, the people on the train make it special," said Elvis tribute artist Steve Fletcher.  

‘Jailhouse Rock’, the 1957 musical drama starring Elvis, will be the theme for this year’s five-day festival, where street markets, lookalike contests, and parades are planned. "It's great to celebrate the King," said Steale Foumakis, an Elvis fan. "Everybody gets into the spirit of everything, we all get dressed up and it's just become an annual tradition now, so yeah, absolutely love it." Organisers expect up to 25,000 people to attend the festival, many in full costume. 

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