Closing date: 28 Feb 2019
Music isn’t just an opportunity for people to let their hair down in the USA’s Deep South– it’s a way of life. Visitors will quickly discover that the streets of Memphis and Nashville still echo to the music of icons like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, while honky-tonk bars tremble with revelling locals. Now, expert tour operator Cosmos is offering you and a friend the chance to soak up the atmosphere and win a place on its nine-day Southern Sounds tour. It’s time to get those feet a-movin’.
Tune yourself in by starting in the jazz hotbed of New Orleans. Wander the Gallic landmarks of its historic French Quarter, all cast-iron balconies and airy courtyards oozing colonial charm. Be sure to also drop by St Louis Cathedral, the oldest of its kind in the US, and Jackson Square (formerly Place d’Armes), a relic of the city’s earliest days.
Nothing, though, quite sums up the ‘Big Easy’ like a leisurely drive along its most fascinating artery, St Charles Avenue. Here, streetcars have been clanging along its length for around 150 years, watched on by the area’s ornate mansions.
Leave buzzy New Orleans for the sleepy hill country of Mississippi. The quiet town of Tupelo harbours an almighty claim to fame: it’s the birthplace of Elvis. Visit the house in which ‘The King’ grew up, while an adjoining museum boasts a wide selection of memorabilia.
If Memphis is the centre for music lovers, Beale Street is its beating heart. Here, blues notes stream out of the countless bars and clubs, while street performers treat the boulevard like a stage.
As well as experiencing the pulse of the city, pilgrims make a beeline to Memphis for its array of museums. The Stax Museum traces the history of American soul music, while the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum charts its namesakes’ origins in the city. Complete the triple and end your day where rock ‘n’ roll began with a wander around Sun Studio. Listen to historic session outtakes, glimpse memorabilia including Elvis’ microphone, and soak up the studio where Johnny Cash and BB King cut their teeth.
But no trip to Memphis is truly complete without paying homage to ‘The King’ himself in his former home, Graceland. Wander the mansion’s extravagant rooms as well as the singer’s lavish cars and custom-built private jets.
Your next stop is country music capital Nashville. After marking its 50th anniversary in 2017, the city’s Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum is still the place to go to really understand how entwined the genre is in the city’s fabric. Here, spy Carl Perkins’ actual blue suede shoes and Elvis’ gold Cadillac among the glittering array of memorabilia, instruments and costumes that make up the largest (and most comprehensive) horde of musical artefacts on the planet.
It’s not the only place that you can absorb ‘The King’s’ legacy. Historic RCA Studio B is one of the country’s most important studios, and where the likes of Elvis, Dolly Parton and the Everly Brothers recorded many hits. But the best way to pay tribute to the Nashville scene is in the here and now, with your last night spent at country music’s mecca: the Grand Ole Opry, a concert venue (whose nights were once broadcast live) that has thrilled crowds for almost a century.
However, visiting these music hubs without a guide is like listening to a song without the rest of the album. Travelling with the expertise of Cosmos offers that complete story, fuelled by a bounty of knowledge crafted from over 50 years’ experience of leading trips to the planet’s most captivating places. They do all the hard graft behind the scenes, simply leaving you free to grab your backstage pass and uncover the musical melting pot of culture that runs across the Deep South.
Cosmos is offering the chance to win two places on its nine-day Southern Sounds tour, including flights and visits to New Orleans, Tupelo, Memphis and Nashville.
For a chance to win, just answer the following question:
In which year was Elvis Presley born?
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