Memphis is this year celebrating its bicentenary, and in celebration of the cities 200th year, the Southern city will break from tradition and pay homage to its rich heritage and culture.

With a number of events taking place across 2019, the most significant on the calendar is the month-long Memphis is May International Festival, which for the first time in its 42-year history will depart from its tradition of honouring a country and promoting trade ties, and will instead honour the city of Memphis.

Honouring its home town as part to the bicentenary celebrations and its founding contributions to rock, soul and blues, Memphis in May will include the Beale Street Music Festival, World Championship Barbecue cooking contest and the Great American River Run

Historian James Roper named 22 May as the founding of Memphis in his book The Founding of Memphis, and it is this date that other formal city events for the bicentenary will focus on. A new event, ‘Celebrate Memphis’ will take place later in the week on 25 May 2019, honouring the city’s heritage and history through the food, music, and people that make it special.

The Memphis Pink Palace Family of Museums also has a special exhibit planned for bicentenary, titled Making Memphis: 200 Years of Community. Bringing together stories of the past and present and their influence on the future, the exhibit will illustrate the interconnected web of Memphis history through technology, interactive components, art, and design. The design will be a multimedia and multisensory experience that encourages visitors to experience Memphis’ history in new ways.

The Memphis in May festival is traditionally of huge benefit to the local Memphis economy. The 2018 Memphis in May brought in US $13.7 million to the Memphis economy, and it’s expected that the home grown focus of 2019 will see an equally impressive turnout for the bicentenary festival.

Chris Ingram, Director of IGG Destination Marketing, representatives of Memphis Tourism in Australia and New Zealand said, “The 2019 bicentenary provides an incredible opportunity to visit Memphis to witness not only all that is great about the city today, but to celebrate its past and be part of history in the making. Memphis is a city that has changed the world – we call it a city of soul, and the last 200 years will be on display to feed yours.”

Further information and additional dates within the Memphis in May bicentenary festival including:

  • Beale Street Music Festival (3-5 May)
  • The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is (15-18 May)
  • The Great American River Run (May 25)
  • Celebrate Memphis (May 25)

Plan your trip to Memphis for the bicentenary: