Two huge anniversaries are coming up in Memphis, Tennessee, making it the US city to visit over the next 12 months. August 16 will mark the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death and, to mark the occasion, a host of events is planned.
From August 11-19, record crowds are expected to pass through Presley’s famed Memphis mansion Graceland, which recently underwent a $137 million expansion.
A candlelight vigil will be held at the gates of Graceland from 8.30pm on August 15, continuing into the wee hours of the 16th. Then the mood will lighten with the 40th Anniversary Celebration concert event at the FedExForum, featuring a symphony orchestra accompanying Elvis on the big screen.
Next year brings another historic anniversary – 50 years since the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative events will be held at the National Civil Rights Museum (formerly the Lorraine Motel) where the civil rights leader was murdered on April 4, 1968. MLK50.CIVILRIGHTSMUSEUM.ORG
TRAVEL BY TASTEBUDS
Food remains one of the biggest reasons for overseas travel, and new research has revealed just how big.
A survey of more than 2300 users of online dinner-reservations site OpenTable found 84 per cent of Aussies chose travel destinations based on their culinary scene. That included 59 per cent who said they had “flown for food” in the past five years with Florence in Italy named the top “dream dining” city.
Paris, Tokyo, Barcelona and New York rounded out the top five most sought-after cities in which to eat.
Lisa Hasen from OpenTable said that Australian travellers were also more open to new foods when travelling. “Eating abroad awakens a diner’s adventurous side, with 88 per cent of Australian holidaymakers stating they were more likely to try new dishes and dining experiences
when eating out while away from home,” Hasen says. “Women were only slightly more willing to be daring than men, in an effort to experience a destination like a local.”
Taking a dip with some of the biggest sharks in the world may not be on everyone’s bucket list – but it can be.
Red Devil Fishing Tours in the Top End provides the only travel experience in the world where guests can dive with tiger sharks. As some of the biggest sharks on the planet (they grow up to 7.5m) tiger sharks are so named because of the dark vertical stripes on juveniles.
For thrillseekers wanting to get up close to the creatures, Red Devil runs daily tours to shark territory, 90 minutes from Darwin, where groups of four are secured in a baited cage over the side of the vessel. The cost is $350 for adults, and $250 for children, or $300 for those who just want to watch the fun. DARWINREDDEVILCHARTERS.COM.AU
Exploring a destination “like a local” is the buzz phrase of travel today, and having well-informed guides is the best way to do it.
Even a tourist-centric city like Paris can take on a new flavour with some insider knowledge, such as that doled out by Isabelle and Fabian Breteau. The French couple run Paris on the Way, specialising in personally tailored tours of the French capital, as well as Normandy and Bordeaux. Among the itineraries are the best museums for kids, a guided chocolate and pastry tour of St-Germain-des-Pres or a Parisian picnic by the Eiffel Tower.
A range of walking tours are available plus some unusual ones like roller-skating, waterskiing, or a discotheque for seven to 13-year-olds. PARISONTHEWAY.COM
New York City is undeniably the superhero of cities, so where better to stage a “Super Tour” than the Big Apple? Running every Saturday and Sunday from noon, the 3½-hour tour starts in Times Square, and covers all the places significant to superheroes such as Superman, Spider-Man, Batman and the Avengers.
Among the highlights are the NY Daily News Building used in Superman; the Flatiron building featured in Spider-Man; the scene of the Battle of New York from The Avengers; and Grand Central Station, which housed Lex Luthor’s lair. Wrapping up at the Statue of Liberty – from X-Men and Superman: The Movie – the tour includes photo opportunities, a bite to eat and the city’s top sights. Bookings are necessary, from $63 a person. ONLOCATIONTOURS.COM
GOOD LOOK AT COOK
What better way to enjoy the crystal clear waters of the Cook Islands than in a glass-bottom kayak? The modified vessels are available from Ariki Adventures on Rarotonga to explore the world-renowned Muri Lagoon with its brilliantly-coloured tropical fish and coral formations.
Guests need only swimmers, sunblock and hat as they venture out to islets nestled within the lagoon. Rates range from $59 for single kayaks to $99 for doubles.
Guests can also be towed through the water on a sea scooter, travelling at 4km an hour.
Elvis Week in Memphis in August is expected to draw the largest-ever crowd to Graceland, to mark the 40th anniversary of the king's death .