The Hessian Bad Nauheim becomes the European Memphis again. The star of the “European Elvis Festival” in the GI home of the King is Peter Kraus.
August 16 marks the 45th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. His secret fear of being forgotten one day was, of course, unfounded. Recently, a new film starring Tom Hanks as a greedy manager unfolded his life on screen in intoxicating images. His Graceland estate has always been a place of pilgrimage for fans – and Germany’s Bad Nauheim in the Hessian Wetterau region becomes more so every year.
First Alfred Einstein and Sissi, then Elvis
Alfred Einstein, Sissi, Franklin D. Roosevelt and other celebrities once sought relaxation in the world-renowned spa. But none is remembered here with more devotion than the King. Admittedly, he also stayed in Bad Nauheim the longest – almost a year and a half – although not voluntarily. The US Army stationed him in neighboring Friedberg, and he chose the chic Art Nouveau swimming pool as his place of residence.
After his departure in March 1959, for a long time there was no big fuss about the ex-guest. But the longer Elvis is dead, the more his followers seem to want places of remembrance. That’s why the “European Elvis Festival” has been celebrated in Bad Nauheim for 20 years now. And last year, a life-size bronze monument was erected for the idol of the century – on the initiative of two female fans, one of them from Bochum.
The King in dress uniform – made of bronze
Since then, GI Presley has been back on the small bridge on which he leaned against the railing for the photographer a good 60 years ago. The photo of the King in his dress uniform served as a template, there is no other statue of him like this in the world. At the festival, a selfie with the bronze Elvis is the most sought-after photo motif for all fans who come.
At this year’s edition from August 12th to 14th. Of course, there is still a lot more to do at two festival centers. At the Hotel Dolce, the historic spa hotel, bands play the King’s music all day long, with the best being chosen on Sunday. A large fan market and the “Rock’n’Roll Heaven” exhibition with items from Elvis’ possession also attract visitors throughout the weekend. You can follow in the footsteps of the famous GI on guided tours through Bad Nauheim – from the Hotel Grunewald, from which the king was once kicked out because of his youthful pranks, to the rented house where he met his Priscilla.
Gospel show on Sunday
The Irishman James Brown is once again a guest in the main musical programme. As “The King” he once sang songs by Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix with Elvis timbre. In Bad Nauheim on Sunday he will present a gospel program and the “American Sound Show” with songs like “Suspicious Minds” and “In The Ghetto”.
The top act of the festival is the “German Elvis” Peter Kraus, now 83 years old. On Saturday evening he will present his program “Everything started with Elvis” in the open air in the bath’s drinking spa facility. On Sunday he also speaks in a talk show about his youth idol, which he once emulated with songs like “Susi Rock”.
The neighboring town of Friedberg also has a program to offer
There are no shows in the official festival program with impersonators in classic 70s jumpsuits, as is standard at the same time as Elvis Week in Memphis. Aside from that, fans have the opportunity to indulge in the Las Vegas illusion. For example, a Dutch organizer presented two award-winning “Elvis Tribute Artists” in a hotel in the city, Ciaran Houlihan and Gordon Davis (Info: www.mywaypromotions.nl).
Or you can drive over to neighboring Friedberg, which also celebrates “its” Elvis. Here, on Saturday evening, the top German impersonator Rio presents his show “Elvis on Tour” with a band in the Stadthalle. The King’s songs can also be heard throughout the weekend in the Rathauspark, with the Wonderfrolleins swinging their petticoats. And if you want to see where Elvis once worked, you can take a guided tour of the “Ray Barracks”. The US Army left the barracks long ago, but their most famous soldier remains unforgotten.
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