How Welsh town became home to ‘biggest Elvis festival in the world’ | UK News

An Elvis tribute festival, believed to be the biggest in the world, has become a Welsh “institution”, according to its founder.

Peter Phillips set up the festival in Porthcawl, Bridgend, in 2004 when iconic venue the Grand Pavillion was under threat of closure.

The council was thinking of closing the venue and the manager asked Mr Phillips for ideas for shows.

“I’ve always quite liked Elvis tribute artists, there are some pretty good ones out there, so I said why don’t we do an awards show for Elvis tribute artists,” he said.

Mr Phillips puts its success down to the “right combination” between paying tribute and having fun.

“It’s not the ideal location, it’s a ridiculous location to put an Elvis festival if you look at it logically,” he said.

“I think it’s getting the quality of the music right at one end and then not taking it too seriously at the other end and just making a party of it,” he said.

Pic: Mike Venner/

Just as it was thought the festival had grown as popular as it would get, and it continued to attract larger crowds of Elvis fans.

“The festival, I thought, after about year five had got as big as it could get because all the accommodation had booked up, including Trecco the massive caravan site there,” Mr Phillips said.

“But it kept growing from there on and it grew with coach trips from the Welsh valleys.

“It sort of turned the clock back in Porthcawl 50, 60 years. The Valleys descend on Porthcawl for the Elvis festival in their coach loads.”

Elvis tribute artists at the Elvis Festival in Porthcawl. Pic: Vanessa Shankland/
Pic: Vanessa Shankland/

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The Elvis festival pays homage to “the most influential musician of the 20th century”, Mr Phillips added.

“A lot of the credit has got to be down to Elvis tribute artists, a lot of people’s impression of an Elvis tribute is some big fat guy in a cheap jumpsuit trying to sing Suspicious Minds, but there’s some really good ones out there and that’s what’s kept it going.

“If I had a pound for every time somebody’s asked me why don’t we do a Beatles festival, or a Queen festival, or a Michael Jackson festival? You say, well, it won’t work.”

The three-day festival, which lasts from Friday until Sunday, will include several Elvis-related events in the town.

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