Fans of Elvis Presley from around the world are taking over the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s hometown June 7-10, 2018 for the 20th annual Tupelo Elvis Festival. Live music, Elvis tribute competitions and more center on downtown Tupelo venues and the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum, where fans can learn about his Mississippi roots and visit his childhood home and church.
Here’s how to make the most of your Elvis pilgrimage to Tupelo.
Thursday, June 7
Elvis Presley came home to great fanfare in 1956, the same year his star took off with hits “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog.” At 5 p.m., gather with thousands of fans for the Elvis Homecoming Parade, inspired by the town’s warm welcome home to its native son. Afterward, catch the free Elvis through the Eras concert at Fairpark, which includes a reenactment of the ’56 Homecoming Concert and tributes to his famous ’68 Comeback Special and more.
Friday, June 8
By now, you may have seen an Elvis impersonator or two—and likely many more. Head to the ticketed Tupelo Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition, which begins at BancorpSouth Arena at 10 a.m., to see them try to out-shake each other for the crown. Grab lunch at Food Truck Friday at the new Tupelo Visitors Center, then bike or drive Tupelo on the Elvis Presley Driving Tour to 13 bronze markers indicating sites of significance to the King. The trail includes Tupelo Hardware, where Gladys Presley bought her son’s first guitar. At nightfall, check out Natchez-bred Southern rockers Bishop Gunn, who will headline the free Friday Night at Fairpark concert.
Saturday, June 9
Lace up early for Running with the King 5K at Veterans Park, a race through Tupelo benefiting the Northeast Mississippi Boys and Girls Club. Cool off indoors as the competition heats up at BancorpSouth Arena for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist semifinals at 10:30 a.m. Take the afternoon to explore local attractions such as the Tupelo Automobile Museum, which includes an 1886 Benz among more than 100 antique, classic and collectible autos. Get to Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen for a farm-to-table lunch or the Neon Pig to taste the Smash Burger, voted the best burger in America by Thrillist.com. The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist finals begin at 6 p.m. back at BancorpSouth Arena.