Elvis Presley lovers shake, rattle and roll at the annual Elvis festival

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Hundreds of hip-shaking and wig-wearing Elvis Presley lookalikes and fans of the late King of Rock and Roll took trains from Sydney bound for Australia's annual Elvis festival on Thursday.

Strains of "I Was The One" rang out along the platforms of Sydney's Central railway terminal as jumpsuited, coiffed and guitar-wielding passengers boarded the "Elvis Express" and "Blue Suede Express" bound for the country town of Parkes, some 357 km (222 miles) westward.

"Elvis is close to my heart because we grew up with Elvis in India," Alfred Vaz, who dressed in a blue flared jumpsuit and also goes by his stage name of Bollywood Elvis, or Raja, told Reuters television beside the locomotive.

"From a very little kid, we always used to gyrate and try sing Elvis like: One for the money, two for the show," he said, launching in to a rendition of "Blue Suede Shoes".

During the six-hour train trip over mountains and through wheatfields and grazing pastures, Elvis tribute artists will entertain the passengers.

The festival, in its 26th year, is expected to attract about 25,000 people to Parkes, more than doubling its population for the duration of the four-day event.

Explore the event below:

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Australia's Elvis festival
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Australia's Elvis festival
Elvis Presley impersonator Sean Wright poses next to the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Elvis Presley impersonators stand together before boarding the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
Elvis Presley impersonator Brody Finlay sings to fans before boarding the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
An Elvis Presley impersonator sings to fans and commuters before boarding the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
An Elvis Presley fan wears glasses shaped in the form of guitars as she prepares to board the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
Elvis Presley impersonator Brody Finlay looks at his reflection in the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
An Elvis Presley impersonator stands next to the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
Elvis Presley impersonator Brody Finlay greets onlookers before boarding the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
An Elvis Presley impersonator puts on his shoes before boarding the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
An Elvis Presley impersonator talks on his phone before boarding the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
An Elvis Presley impersonator talks to fans and commuters before boarding the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
An Elvis Presley impersonator hangs from the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
A train guard dressed as Elvis Presley blows a whistle to signal the departure of the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station bound for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
An Elvis Presley impersonator stands next to the Mayor of the town of Parkes, Ken Keith, as they stand amongst fans before boarding the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
An Elvis Presley fan holds a handbag as she prepares to board the Elvis Express train at Sydney's Central station before it departs for the 26th annual Elvis Festival being held in the New South Wales town of Parkes in Australia, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
Elvis tribute artist Matt Birse from Adelaide has eye makeup applied in the dressing room before the final of the Ultimate Elvis tribute artist competition at the 25th annual Parkes Elvis Festival in the rural Australian town of Parkes, west of Sydney, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed
An Elvis fan arrives at Central station to board a train to The Parkes Elvis Festival, in Sydney on January 11, 2018. The Parkes Elvis Festival is an annual event celebrating the music and life of Elvis Presley in the New South Wales town of Parkes. / AFP PHOTO / PETER PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)
Elvis fans arrive at Central station to board a train to The Parkes Elvis Festival, in Sydney on January 11, 2018. The Parkes Elvis Festival is an annual event celebrating the music and life of Elvis Presley in the New South Wales town of Parkes. / AFP PHOTO / PETER PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)
Elvis fans arrive at Central station to board a train to The Parkes Elvis Festival, in Sydney on January 11, 2018. The Parkes Elvis Festival is an annual event celebrating the music and life of Elvis Presley in the New South Wales town of Parkes. / AFP PHOTO / PETER PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)
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The focus this year is on celebrating 50 years since Presley's 1968 "comeback special," an intimate and unplugged show credited with reviving his then-flagging recording career.

Street markets, lookalike contests, parades, a car show, displays of Presley artifacts and tribute performances are planned.

"It's a must for all Elvis fans," said tribute artist Kingsley Rock, whose website promises: "If you want the King to sing at your thing, give me a ring."

"Its just one big party and everyone there loves Elvis, why wouldn't you not come back year after year," he told Reuters.

 

(Reporting by Jill Gralow and James Redmayne. Writing by Tom Westbrook, Editing by Michael Perry)

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