Festival Brief

It’s been over 40 years since Elvis Presley left the building, yet 26,500+ Elvis fans still gather in the Central NSW town of Parkes annually to celebrate The King each January.

Record crowds are expected for the 202020 Parkes Elvis Festival, which will take place from Wednesday 8 to Sunday 12 January 2020. This year’s Festival theme is the 1966 Elvis film Frankie and Johnny, a classic Elvis hit where The King played a Mississippi riverboat performer with a weakness for gambling. Featuring card sharks, casinos, a masked ball and theatrical costumes, the Festival is expecting to witness one of the most colourful events in history.

Parkes Elvis Festival is something on everyone’s bucket list, and why wouldn’t it be when people of all ages can don a wig and glasses to relive the rock’n’roll heyday that took the world by storm!

The Festival features a jam-packed five-day program of events, including four days of free Cooke Park Main Stage entertainment, look-a-like contests, Tribute to Elvis competitions, Street Parade, displays of Elvis artefacts at Greg Page’s The Kings Castle Elvis Exhibit, the Gospel Service, the Cars of the Era show and more than 200 other unique Elvis-themed events.

Festival Director Cathy Treasure says, “Each year our Festival guests show up in droves, decked to the nines in their finest Elvis attire. Frankie and Johnny was a wonderfully fun film full of amazing costumes so we’re expecting our attendees to have a lot of fun with it.

“This year’s program is bigger and better than ever. We’ve collected some of the country’s top artists for a series of standout shows and Dean Z is arguably one of the world’s best Elvis Tribute Artists so his concert series is sure to impress. There’s also a bunch of great highlights, family focused activities, outdoor markets, special performances and more.”

“The Festival is a community-driven event that involves a wide cross-section of the community, from Council to local businesses to more than 100 volunteers who give up their time to successfully stage the Festival each year, all of which adds to the amazing atmosphere.

“Alongside the iconic CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, Parkes Elvis Festival has cemented Parkes’ status as a major tourism destination, providing a significant boost to not only the Parkes economy but to the economy of the whole region in what would usually be a low tourism period. Considering visitor length of stay, bed nights, ticket sales, food and transport costs, the Festival brings an estimated injection of over $13 million into the local economy.”

The Festival story

It’s 28 years since the Festival began, but the question everyone still asks is: why Elvis in Parkes? In 1981, local Elvis fans Bob Steel OAM and Anne Steel OAM opened a reception centre and restaurant in Parkes they named ‘Gracelands’.  It is now called Hotel Gracelands and is on the corner of Bushman and Albert Streets.

However the Festival concept was first flagged at an Elvis-themed birthday party in 1993 at Gracelands. This party proved the appeal of the King across generations, and it was over a glass of wine at the party that the idea of a Festival was first discussed.

Passionate locals from across the community joined forces to put on the first Festival in 1993, which included an Elvis movie screening, an Elvis tribute concert by Eddie Youngblood, an Elvis look-a-like and sound-a-like competition, a street parade, markets and a tour of the Parkes region. The first Festival was attended by 195 people.

Over the first 10 years of the Festival, more events were added to the program and it continued to attract fans in their hundreds. With the vision and efforts of hard-working volunteer committee members together with significant support from Parkes Shire Council, the Festival experienced a surge in popularity in 2003 and 2004 as word quickly spread across Australia about this fun and quirky event in a quiet country town in NSW.

9,500 attended the Festival in 2009. In 2018 more than 26,000 visitors attended this major iconic event. The Festival now enjoys a worldwide media audience of 200 million and fans around the globe.

For images, interviews or further information please contact:

Matt Fraser
Original Spin
0401 326 007
[email protected]

Tiffany Steel
Festival Sponsorship & Marketing Coordinator
Parkes Shire Council
(02) 6862 6000
[email protected]