Every year our little town in Porthcawl, South Wales (population 16,000) holds an annual Elvis Festival. This is now one of the biggest Elvis festivals in the world attracting over 35,000 fans, that’s a lot of fans and a lot of people dressed up as Elvis!
In The Ghetto
The background to how the Elvis Festival has grown is interesting. In 2004 author, show and film producer Peter Phillips attended an Elvis festival in Minnesota and thought it would be a great idea in Wales where he was originally from. He then got together with the owner of the Grand Pavilion theatre Porthcawl, pitched an Elvis tribute show and the Elvis Festival was born.
Over time and with support from local venues in particularly The High Tide bar and venue, the Elvis Festival has grown.
All Shook Up
Central to the festival is the ‘Elvies’, a prestigious award show for Elvis Tribute artists held at The Grand Pavilion. Past winners include Elvis Desley and Darren ‘Graceland’ Jones, yes there are a lot of Elvis tribute acts with puns in their names!
Fast forward to 2017 and the show has made a conscious effort to become more family friendly after concerns that it was becoming too alcohol driven and it is all the better for it. A family centred ‘no alcohol’ zone on the promenade was home to an Elvis dog lookalike competition, complete with matching outfits. Awards going to the best Elvis lookalike as well as the best Priscilla lookalike and the best hound ‘pound’ dog. It surely was a fun event.
This year the show was better than ever, yes there are people singing ‘Suspicious Minds‘ at the top of their drunken voice, but the security presence was reassuring, and the police even joined in on the fun wearing Elvis sunglasses and sideburns. With a combination of ticketed events and free events and many of the pubs having singers which you did not have to pay to see, if you are fans of Elvis, it’s certainly a place to come. The Elvis Festival has put Porthcawl on the map and that can only be a good thing.