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May is the month to be in Memphis, in southwest Tennessee, for its annual musical extravaganza. But this year, the festival takes on a different appeal as it decides to focus on the city itself (and not any country as it usually does) which is celebrating its bicentenary. Home of the blues, soul and rock n roll music, Memphis is associated with musical legends such as Elvis Presley, B.B. King and Johnny Cash. One of the most visited attractions here is Graceland, the estate of Presley.
The bicentennial celebration is based on the theme ‘A New Century of Soul’, where Memphis is looking forward to the next 100 years while celebrating the past. Through May, apart from the musical extravaganza, there will be lots of events, such as exhibitions, cinema, side-walk walking tours, world championship barbeque cooking contest, the Great American River Run, etc. Memphis in May also produces extensive education, international, and economic programs for the city.
Here are some of the major attractions of the Memphis in May celebrations.
Beale Street Music Festival
The blues clubs and restaurants along Beale Street are a major tourist attraction round the year. But at the Beale Street Music Festival held in the first weekend of May, you get an opportunity to listen to live music from more than 60 world class acts. You can get single- or three-day passes. Venue: Tom Lee Park.
World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest
Between May 15 and 18, over 200 teams from around the globe, compete for the coveted world champion crown. The competition held on the picturesque bank of the Mississippi River finds teams cooking away in various categories, including the championship pork categories of Ribs, Shoulder, and Whole Hog, as well as the ancillary competitions of Hot Wings, Sauce, and “Anything But Pork.” The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest also offers an amateur category, the Patio Porkers, which allows the backyard grillers the opportunity to test their skills against best in barbecue. Venue: Tom Lee Park.
The Great American River Run
This is a half marathon and 5K race taking place in downtown Memphis on Memorial Day weekend (May 25 this year). The half marathon course follows the banks of the Mississippi River while the route of the 5K race winds through downtown Memphis. The Run concludes with a massive post-race party that includes food, drinks and live music.
This will be a new event to be organised as part of the Memphis in May festival and its contribution to the bicentennial celebrations. On May 25, Memphis in May will host a free event in Tom Lee Park, which will honor the people and neighbourhoods. Highlights include live music, fireworks, world’s longest picnic table, airshow, global community and market, etc. Gates open at 3:00 p.m. Blankets, lawn chairs and outside food, beverages and coolers are permitted for this event.
For more details about the programmes and tickets, see https://www.memphisinmay.org/
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