The Rocket Blog

The Native Memphian's Guide to Elvis Week
By Katie Mars and Lindsey Butler on Aug 4, 2017

But I've reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

Elvis Presley has long inspired and intrigued fans of all ages, all over the world, including some rather famous onesDuring a brief, magical period every August, thousands upon thousands of these fans all converge on the Bluff City for a sacred pilgrimage, Elvis Week, where they celebrate the life and legacy of The King. 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ passing, and Graceland anticipates the largest Elvis Week crowd yet, which is as exciting as it is intimidating.

If you’ve never been before, even just a cursory glance at the jam-packed schedule of events can be anxiety-inducing. So, we thought we’d do you a solid and share our top event picks, organized by type, and also point out the many free activities available to keep your wallet from getting All Shook Up.

(It’s what Elvis would’ve wanted.)

Burning Love: Fan Meets + Special Guest Panels

FRIDAY, AUGUST 11

  • Elvis Fan Reunion | 2:00pm @ Graceland Soundstage A, $10
    Though relatively new to the Elvis Week scene, having debuted in 2016, the Elvis Fan Reunion has quickly become a hit with devotees of The King. Fans have a chance to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones over an afternoon of storytelling, Elvis trivia and other fun activities. The low admission cost, fantastic tales and cool memorabilia shared during this event earn it a prominent spot on our can’t-miss list for EP superfans.
01Elvis Fan Reunion

SATURDAY, AUGUST 12

  • The Auction at Graceland | 12:30pm @ The Guest House Theater
    If hearing about Elvis history isn’t enough to satiate your passion, take a piece of it home with you. From clothing to concert memorabilia, each artifact in the auction has been researched and certified as authentic. For those who wanna know before they go, here’s an online sneak peek of what’s on offer.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 13

  • Elvis 101 | 10:00am @ Graceland Soundstage A, $20
    This event is a MUST for all newbie Elvis fans. Comprising scholars, authors and hardcore EP aficionados who have all spent countless hours studying The King, this panel dives deep into the profound influence Elvis had on music, pop culture and society at large. (We’re especially excited to see beloved local film critic/journalist, John Beifuss, will be leading a discussion about Elvis’ film career!)
  • George Klein’s Elvis Mafia Reunion | 5:00 - 7:00pm @ Alfred’s on Beale Street, $45
    George Klein is a famous Memphis DJ, author and undisputed Elvis authority. The two met in eighth grade at Humes High School and remained lifelong friends until Presley’s death. This event is for fans who want to hear the Elvis stories you won’t find on Wikipedia, all told by the folks who knew him best. Another great reason to check this out? (As if you needed one!) All proceeds from the event will benefit Make-a-Wish and the EP Charity Dinner.
02George Klein

Image courtesy of Memphis CVB Flickr

MONDAY, AUGUST 14

  • Official Graceland Insiders Conference | 9:00 - 11:00am & 12:30 - 2:30pm @ Graceland Soundstage A, $50
    They should rename this event: All Elvis, All Day. Alright! There are WAY too many special guests and kingly ephemera on deck for us to detail everything, so here are the two main reasons we dig this event:

    1. there will be a ton of rare, behind-the-scenes multimedia segments, some never shown publicly before this conference, featuring Elvis and those in his professional and personal inner circles;

    2. OG rockabilly badass Wanda Jackson (!!!) will be on hand, talking about what it was like to tour with Elvis. *swoon*
03Wanda Jackson

Image courtesy of Flickr user laura musselman duffy

TUESDAY, AUGUST 15

  • Candlelight Vigil | 8:30pm - ??? @ the gates of Graceland, FREE
    Every Memphian needs to experience this at least once. If you aren’t an Elvis fan when you arrive, you will be when you leave. Not only is it incredibly moving to see thousands of candles lifted up during the moment of silence, but it feels like you are part of this big, boundless family you never knew existed. To do it right, get there early so you have plenty of time to walk around and check out the incredibly creative, fan-built shrines scattered all over Elvis Presley Blvd.
04Candlelight Vigil

A Little Less Conversation: 5K + Musical Performances

SATURDAY, AUGUST 12

  • 35th Annual Elvis 5K Run, Benefiting Livitup | 8:00am @ the gates of Graceland
    Have you ever dreamt of running alongside grown men (and dogs!) dressed as Elvis? DUH, OF COURSE YOU HAVE. Here’s your chance to live the dream, while supporting Livitup, a local nonprofit focused on advancing the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities. If being part of the action isn’t your thing, you can still have a blast cheering on the racers from the sidelines. Watching the spectacle that is the Elvis 5K has become a treasured annual tradition for many a Memphian, so don’t be surprised by the over-the-top costumes sported by onlookers and racers alike.
05Elvis 5K

Images courtesy of Graceland photo gallery

  • The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley Celebration Concert | 8:00pm @ Graceland Soundstage A, $40
    One of the most fascinating things about Elvis was his ability to portray himself as both hard-living sinner and repentant saint, often with little preamble between. Long before he became The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis’ relationship with music started the same place many Southerners find their singing voices--in the church. This event explores EP’s relationship to gospel through live performances by musicians he shared the stage with, as well as those he influenced.

 SUNDAY, AUGUST 13

  • A Celebration of Elvis, Featuring Bouke | 2:00pm @ The Guest House Theater, $20
    If you’re unfamiliar with Dutch singer, Bouke, then please take a moment to watch this video of him performing "In the Ghetto" on hit Netherlands gameshow, The Winner Takes It All, where viewers vote for their favorite uncanny soundalikes.

Spoiler alert: yes, he was the show’s winner and, presumably, took it all (which we hope was lots of really good chocolate or something). His performance is sure to wow fans of Elvis--as well as anyone obsessed with Dutch culture--and, honestly, isn’t that all of us?

  • A Salute to Sun Records, Hosted by John Paul Keith | 8:00pm @ Graceland Soundstage A, $30
    We recommend this show because it spreads the Memphis love beyond just Elvis. Led by John Paul Keith, talented local musicians will be performing the tunes of legendary Sun Records artists (including Elvis, natch). One of the evening’s special guests is Jerry Phillips, son of label/studio founder, Sam Phillips.

05Sun Studios

Image courtesy of Flickr user Malcolm Surgenor

TUESDAY, AUGUST 15

  • Songwriters’ Showcase | 3:00pm @ Graceland Soundstage A, $30
    Think of this as a sort of live version of Behind the Music, Elvis Edition. If you’ve ever been curious about how some of his biggest smash hits came to be, such as “Jailhouse Rock” or “Suspicious Minds,” then this is where you want to be. These folks wrote the songs that helped make Elvis a star, so expect a fascinating evening of music and stories you won’t hear anywhere else.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16

  • ELVIS: Live in Concert, 40th Anniversary Celebration with Symphony Orchestra | 8:00pm @ FedExForum in downtown Memphis, $65 - 300
    This new touring concert event has been selling out huge venues all over the world, and we are excited to see it listed as part of this year’s Elvis Week festivities! There will be tons of special guests, including Priscilla, and an entire orchestra playing all of your favorite Elvis songs. The twist is that Elvis will be “performing” on a screen in the background, synced up with the rest of the show. (Unfortunately, no word yet on whether Hologram Tupac will be making a cameo appearance…)

 

THURSDAY, AUGUST 17

  • Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest - Semifinal | 7:00pm @ Graceland Soundstage A, $32
    If you think ETA stands for “estimated time (of) arrival,” then you clearly haven’t been to Elvis Week before. After watching more than 20 of the best Elvis Tribute Artists in the world give their all on stage, you’ll never think of those three letters the same way again. The top 10 performers from semifinals move on to compete for a contract performing with Legends in Concert, plus a cash prize of $20,000! (Sadly, at the time of this writing, tickets to attend the final round of the Ultimate ETA Contest are sold out.) If this will be your first foray into ETA culture, do yourself a favor, and read up on what it takes for a performer to join the ranks of this upper echelon.
07ETA Contest

Images courtesy of Graceland photo gallery

Treat Me Nice: Free Events

FRIDAY, AUGUST 18

  • Inside the Archives | 3:00pm @ The Guest House Theater
    History nerds, rejoice! This event showcases some of the coolest artifacts from Graceland’s archives, and staff members explain how each was acquired, as well as how they’re protected.
08Inside The Archive
  • Elvis Double Feature | 8:00pm @ The Guest House Theater
    While this is free, seating is limited, so come early!

    8:00pm - Girls! Girls! Girls! (starring Elvis Presley & Laurel Goodwin)
    10:00pm - It Happened at the World’s Fair (starring Elvis Presley & Gary Lockwood)

MULTI-DAY EVENTS

  • Morning and Evening Walk Ups to the Meditation Garden: August 11 - 14 & 16 - 19
    Mornings: 7:30 - 8:30am || Evenings: 7:00 - 9:00pm @ Graceland
    If you want a chance to explore the garden without paying for the full tour experience, this event’s for you.

  • Elvis Trivia at The Guest House: August 11, 13, 14 & 17
    @ EP’s Bar & Grill, The Guest House at Graceland
    Yes, there will be prizes, so bring your A-game.
  • Meet ‘n’ Greet with Betty Harper: August 12 - 15
    12:00 - 5:00pm @ The Guest House at Graceland Gift Shop
    Artist Betty Harper has drawn more than 20,000 portraits of Elvis. (You could say she’s sort of a fan.) Come say hello, and check out her latest creation.

09Betty Harper

Images courtesy of the artist's website

  • Elvis Movies in The Guest House Theater: August 16 & 19
    5:00pm & 8:00pm
    It’s Elvis. On the big screen! As stated above, seating is limited, so don’t dawdle heading to the theater. (Film schedule TBA at the time of this writing.)
  • Karaoke at The Guest House: August 16 & 19
    7:00 - 11:00pm @ EP’S Bar & Grill, The Guest House at Graceland
    You might not have what it takes to be an ETA, but you can still shake what your mama gave you.
  • Wolf River Popcorn Tasting
    August 12: 12 - 2pm || August 13: 1 - 4pm || August 15: 2 - 5pm @ Minnie Mae’s Sweets
    Free local munchies!
  • Dinstuhl’s Chocolate Tasting
    August 14: 2 - 4pm || August 15: 12 - 2pm || August 16: 2 - 4pm @ Minnie Mae’s Sweets
    Free local sweets!

Ready to rock?

To purchase tickets and see the full schedule of events, head over to the official Elvis Week 2017 page on Graceland’s website.

P.S. Our Senior Social Media Strategist, Katie Mars, will be covering all the fun things happening during this year's Elvis Week, so tell her hello if you see her!

10Katie Elvis Week