2018 Parkes Elvis Festival launched at Hotel Gracelands

More, more, more!

That’s what Parkes Elvis Festival director Cathy Treasure has promised the 2018 Parkes Elvis Festival will deliver in a ‘68 Comeback Special theme.

More music, more dancing and more Elvis.

In a mammoth of a launch on Monday, a king-size contingent of special guests and community members packed the function room at Hotel Gracelands for the official opening.

Among them were Australian rock icons, the Emmanuel brothers Phil and Tommy, making a special return to the town they grew up in for the occasion.

Ms Treasure announced the duo as next year’s inductees on the Parkes Elvis Festival Wall of Fame.

Following speeches from Tourism Minister Adam Marshall, Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW Rick Colless and Parkes Mayor Ken Keith, Phil and Tommy stepped on stage to say their thank yous.

The pair recalled their childhood in Parkes, thanked their idol Robie Porter (Rob E.G) – who was also present in the audience and spoke of their days growing up listening to Elvis.

“We’re all here because we loved his music, his music was timeless,” Tommy said.

Then in a rare moment, the brothers played two songs together before a captivated audience.

Phil and Tommy – along with Mr Marshall – also had the honour of unveiling the front cover of next year’s festival program.

This year’s festival theme is in celebration of 50 years since the King appeared on television in a special unplugged style performance that helped re-launch him back into the music industry. 

And Ms Treasure said to expect plenty of pomade and loads of black leather.

“The festival is back and bigger than ever...We have all your festival favourites returning, plus plenty of great new highlights, with special performances from world-renowned Elvis tribute artists, and not one, but two fantastic rail services to get you into Parkes in style,” she said.

Among the new highlights is a midnight show at the Parkes Leagues Club on the Friday night of the festival.

“We all know how Elvis loved his midnight shows,” Ms Treasure said.

She also said there will be more 5pm shows, more free entertainment, more car shows, the Memphis stage hours will be extended, and there will be dancing in the Coles car park.

And in a few firsts for the festival of 26 years, there will be new coach services, a Priscilla plane where ticket prices include a seat at the Miss Priscilla Dinner, an unplugged competition for performers who’d like to step on the Cooke Park stage without having to “dress-up” to the occasion,  and “glamping”, otherwise known as luxurious camping.

Of course Ms Treasure said next year’s festival will include all of our favourites.

The 2018 program is jam-packed full of hip-swivelling good time, including the headline Feature Concert, Elvis Gospel Service, the Northparkes Mines Street Parade, non-stop free entertainment at the ARTC Cooke Park Main Stage, Godsell Machinery Miss Priscilla Dinner, and competitions.

And for the first time this year, tickets to all Parkes Elvis Festival shows, across many venues, will be available to purchase online.

UK Elvis tribute artist Ben Thompson is Parkes’ international headline act for 2018, making the trip Down Under for the first time.

The performer sent a short video to greet those who attended Monday’s launch.

Mr Thompson will perform four high-energy shows at the Parkes Leagues Club.

The Miss Priscilla Dinner on the Thursday will feature a special performance by Parkes 2016 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist winner Jack Gatto, and will see the crowning of the 2018 Miss Priscilla.

Mr Gatto also made an appearance at Monday’s launch.

Aussie Elvis heartthrobs Mark Andrew and Dean Vegas will also be making a comeback to Parkes, following rave reviews in 2017, Jacqueline Feilich returns after a short break with her show ‘She is the King’ and the music from Elvis’ hit films will be celebrated in Dean Rias’ show Elvis at the Movies.

The preliminary round of the international Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest also returns in 2018, with leading Elvis tribute artists across Australia and New Zealand battling it out at Parkes Leagues Club. 

It all takes place from Wednesday, January 10 to Sunday, January 14.

“The Parkes Elvis Festival has become one of the state’s most iconic regional events and is a true testament to the community spirit of this wonderful region,” Mr Marshall said on Monday.

“I congratulate the Festival organisers on their achievements and developing an exciting 2018 Festival Program which will be one not to miss.

“From the great entertainment, colourful costumes and country hospitality, it’s little wonder this event continues to attract visitors from across Australia every year.”

Tickets are on sale now to all events including the 2018 Feature Concert Services featuring multi-award winning artist Mr Thompson.

For all programming and ticketing information, visit www.parkeselvisfestival.com.au