It’s Now Or Never for Elvis tribute artists at ‘fierce’ European Championships

Impersonators of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll have described the competition at the 12th annual European Elvis Championships as “fantastic to watch, but fierce”.

The competition forms part of the UK’s longest-running Elvis festival, which includes live music from a wide range of tribute artists who don bejewelled jumpsuits to take to the stage at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole from January 5-8.

A host of Elvis Presley-inspired performances feature as contestants aim for the top prize, with one competitor likening the championships to “two tigers fighting over a bit of scrap meat”.

Chris Vegas, real name Chris Taylor, from Essex, told the PA news agency he is taking part in his fourth competition, which is held annually around Elvis’s birthday.

European Elvis Championships – Birmingham
The championships host the top Elvis tribute artists from across Europe (Jacob King/PA)

“The nerves are still there, but I’m a lot less nervous – if that makes any sense,” he said.

“With this place, you know you’re gonna get an atmosphere, you know that people are going to enjoy it.

“With pubs and clubs, they are going to enjoy it but you don’t know if they’re going to want to join in. This place, you know what you’re going to get.”

European Elvis Championships – Birmingham
The competition is taking place in Birmingham (Jacob King/PA)

Mr Taylor added that the atmosphere at the festival in Birmingham “wins hands down” compared with other ventures.

“The competition is a bit like two tigers fighting over a bit of scrap meat at the moment, it’s fierce,” he said.

“Fantastic to watch, but fierce.”

European Elvis Championships – Birmingham
Contestants travel from around the world to compete (Jacob King/PA)

Nikolai Helmich has travelled from Germany for the contest.

“I’m an Elvis fan since (I was) a baby boy and I remember the day Elvis died and I was just so, ‘Oh no, oh God’,” he told PA.

European Elvis Championships – Birmingham
The contest is the UK’s longest-running Elvis festival (Jacob King/PA)

“And that’s why I became an Elvis tribute artist.”

Mr Helmich said he was invited to the championship when there was a cancellation.

“A lucky reason,” he said.

European Elvis Championships – Birmingham
Audiences can expect live performances (Jacob King/PA)

“The best Elvis tribute artists of Europe – they compete here.

“Even if I don’t make it to the finals, it’s just great to be here.”

Tickets are still available for the European Elvis Championships 2023.