Elvis Presley’s Graceland: Our Top Moments of 2016

As we count down to the final days, hours and minutes of 2016, we’re taking a moment to look back on this monumental year at Elvis Presley’s Graceland.

We celebrated milestones, Elvis Week, Elvis’ birthday and the holidays. We took Elvis to fans overseas, and brought fans closer to Graceland than ever. We crowned a new Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist, shared new Elvis music with fans and made lots of plans that will leave 2017 all shook up (sorry, we just had to say that).

Let’s look back at our favorite moments from 2016.

The Guest House at Graceland Opens

The Guest House at Graceland celebrated its Grand Opening Weekend on October 27-30.

The Guest House at Graceland celebrated its Grand Opening Weekend on October 27-30.

During most of 2016, we watched as the new 450-room resort hotel, The Guest House at Graceland, come into shape down the road from Graceland. The weekend of October 27-30, the hotel opened to rave reviews. Fans loved the Elvis-inspired décor, the Southern hospitality, the food and the feeling that you were, in fact, staying at Elvis’ guest house. Two weeks after opening, the hotel was awarded AAA’s prestigious Four-Diamond Rating.

Have you stayed at The Guest House at Graceland yet? Book your stay today.

Announcing Elvis Presley’s Memphis

You can book your tickets now to explore Elvis Presley's Memphis, opening March 2.

You can book your tickets now to explore Elvis Presley’s Memphis, opening March 2.

At Graceland, we always want to preserve and carry on Elvis’ legacy – and that’s what we’re doing with our new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis. Opening in the spring 2017, the new complex will house Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, the world’s largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum, as well as Presley Motors, a new Elvis car museum. There will also be “Discovery” exhibit spaces, where guests can learn more about Elvis’ life, career and interests, as well as a Soundstage for special events. Hungry for more? You’ll find plenty to eat at two restaurants named after Elvis’ parents: Gladys’ Diner and Vernon’s Smokehouse. Elvis’ two airplanes will also be on display here, too. Make your plans now to experience Elvis Presley’s Memphis.

Graceland Welcomes Its 20 Millionth Visitor

Elvis fan Tiffany Greenoak was Graceland's 20 Millionth visitor. She visited Graceland while on honeymoon with her husband, Robert.

Elvis fan Tiffany Greenoak was Graceland’s 20 Millionth visitor. She visited Graceland while on honeymoon with her husband, Robert.

In May, we celebrated our 20 millionth – yes, you read that right – visitor: Tiffany Greenoak, who was visiting Graceland while on her honeymoon with her husband, Robert. The Greenoaks, Elvis fans from London, were welcomed to Graceland by a phone call from Priscilla Presley and a visit from Graceland CEO Jack Soden. Tiffany and Robert were given a private tour and won a prize pack that included a stay at The Guest House at Graceland, a one-year pass to Graceland, a $500 shopping spree at Graceland’s retail shops and the recently released box set, “Elvis Presley – The Album Collection.” Here’s to 20 million more visitors!

Elvis Week 2016

Fans lined up to pay tribute to Elvis in the rain at Elvis Week.

Fans lined up to pay tribute to Elvis in the rain at Elvis Week.

Elvis Week is always a special time of year here at Graceland, and the 2016 Elvis Week was no exception. Our special guests included everyone from DJ Fontana, who talked about what it was like to be Elvis’ drummer both on the stage and on the big screen; Bill Eubanks, who discussed decorating Graceland with Elvis; Marilyn Evans Riehl, who recalled dating Elvis in 1956 and was there for the famous Million Dollar Quartet session; Estelle Brown, who shared her memories of singing alongside Elvis; and many more. Performers like Terry Mike Jeffrey, Memphis Jones, Gladys & Maybelle, Andy Childs, Jamie Kelley and the Brandon Cunning Band electrified the stage with all kinds of music, from gospel to Elvis classics and Memphis-made favorites. It was a memorable Elvis Week, and it promises that 2017 will be even bigger and better. Re-live the Elvis Week magic with this recap.

New Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Crowned

Dwight Icenhower was crowned the 2016 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist at Elvis Week.

Dwight Icenhower was crowned the 2016 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist at Elvis Week.

2016 marks the 10th year for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest – can you believe it? We crowned the 2016 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist during Elvis Week, and that winner was Dwight Icenhower, who represented the Branson Elvis Festival. Ben Thompson won second place, Victor Trevino, Jr., took home third and Pat Dunn and Travis Powell rounded out the top 5 finalists. Watch this recap of the 2016 Ultimate ETA Contest.

We can’t wait for next year’s contest. Check out the list of 2017 preliminary rounds.

Elvis’ Birthday Celebration

The 2016 birthday cake paid tribute to Elvis' film career.

The 2016 birthday cake paid tribute to Elvis’ film career.

We’ve jumped all over 2016 a bit, but let’s go back to the beginning – to Elvis’ birthday. We celebrated Elvis’ 81st birthday with fans from all over the world, special guests and a gorgeous red cake that honored Elvis’ movie career. June Juanico spoke about dating Elvis in the 1950s, and Glenn Derringer shared his memories of starring alongside Elvis the Dorsey Brothers Show. The birthday festivities also included the Auction at Graceland and an Elvis-inspired show by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra featuring Terry Mike Jeffrey.

(psst – the 2017 Elvis Birthday Celebration is right around the corner – you’re joining us for that, right?)

New VIP Exhibit – “Elvis in Hollywood: From Teen Idol to Leading Man”

Costumes, scripts, posters and more are on display.

Costumes, scripts, posters and more are on display.

Elvis made his movie debut in “Love Me Tender” 60 years ago this year. To celebrate, we opened our new VIP exhibit, “Elvis in Hollywood: From Teen Idol to Leading Man,” in January. The exhibit features movie scripts, costumes, awards, posters and other artifacts.  If you want to see this special exhibit, which is only part of our VIP tour, hurry – it closes in March 2017.

Surprises at the Graceland Lighting Ceremony

T.G. Sheppard and Paul Shaffer kicked off the holiday season at Graceland's Lighting Ceremony.

T.G. Sheppard and Paul Shaffer kicked off the holiday season at Graceland’s Lighting Ceremony.

The annual Lighting is always a special time of year here at Graceland. It’s when we flip the switch on Elvis’ traditional Christmas lights and decorations at the king’s castle. This year, country star T.G. Sheppard, who was a friend of Elvis’, flipped the switch with the help of Alexis, a patient at St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Guests were treated to a surprise when T.G.’s friend, musician Paul Shaffer, joined in on the festivities as well – proof that you never know who you’ll see at Graceland! And while the temperature in Memphis that day was near 70 degrees, we somehow managed to work some Graceland magic and score a little snow. Check out what you may have missed with this recap of the ceremony.

Elvis Music Galore

Elvis fans fell in love with "Elvis Presley - The Album Collection," which includes 60 of Elvis' albums.

Elvis fans fell in love with “Elvis Presley – The Album Collection,” which includes 60 of Elvis’ albums.

Did someone say Christmas? 2016 was like Christmas over and over again for Elvis fans. This year, the definitive 60-cd box set “Elvis Presley – The Album Collection,” was released in March, followed by “Way Down in the Jungle Room” in August and “The Wonder of You – Elvis Presley with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” in October. The box set features restorations of 57 Elvis albums originally released on RCA, plus three new discs of rarities from the 50s, 60s and 70s. “The Wonder of You” is a beautiful follow-up to last year’s wildly successful “If I Can Dream” album. The two-CD set “Way Down in the Jungle Room” is the most complete and comprehensive set of Elvis’ Jungle Room sessions. They’re all available now at Shop Graceland, and click here to watch this Gates of Graceland episode that focuses on Elvis’ Jungle Room sessions.

‘If I Can Dream’ UK Tour

The "If I Can Dream" album came alive with the tour of the same name.

The “If I Can Dream” album came alive with the tour of the same name.

Speaking of new music, we celebrated the million-selling album, “If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” with a UK arena tour this fall. For six dates this November, Elvis graced a giant screen and was backed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Priscilla Presley also made special appearances at each concert. Fans were delighted, and it was a fabulous way to celebrate yet another one of the king’s chart-topping albums.

The Gates of Graceland

Watch our latest episode of The Gates of Graceland.
 

OK, OK – we’re cheating with this one a little bit: We started The Gates of Graceland in 2015. But we couldn’t help but include our popular web series – after all, our 2016 episodes have racked up more than 488,000 views this year. We’ve covered everything from the Million Dollar Quartet to Elvis’ obscure awards to his book and record collections. Of course, we can’t forget our popular Hidden Graceland episodes, which take you beyond the ropes and into the Pink Cadillac’s trunk. We have even more episodes lined up for 2017, and it’s free to watch right on Graceland.com – so what are you waiting for? Binge The Gates of Graceland now!

Starring Elvis Presley Podcast

We're watching every single Elvis movie for our Starring Elvis Presley podcast, starting with "Love Me Tender."

We’re watching every single Elvis movie for our Starring Elvis Presley podcast, starting with “Love Me Tender.”

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll kicked off his movie career 60 years ago this year, so to celebrate, we’re taking a look at each and every Elvis movie, in chronological order, with our new bonus podcast episodes, called Starring Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley Enterprises’ Libby Perry and Sheena Barnett are hosting the show, and so far they’ve covered Elvis’ first four films. Each episode features discussion of the film’s plot and characters, movie trivia and more. Watch along and tune in to the podcast, which is released every two weeks. Tune in now!

Get Social with Graceland

Follow Graceland on Snapchat! You can find us as VisitGraceland.

Follow Graceland on Snapchat! You can find us as VisitGraceland.

You can like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, but that’s so last year. This year, we launched a Graceland Snapchat. You can see unique views and behind-the-scenes Graceland Snapchat stories by following us at VisitGraceland. If you’re following us on Facebook, great!, but be sure to keep an eye out for our Facebook Live videos. We kicked off our Facebok Live videos with a behind-the-scenes peek at a Gates of Graceland shoot, and since then, we’ve gone live often during big events to give our Facebook followers the chance to watch along at home. We know you’re following us on Instagram, but are you playing with us on Instagram? This year we kicked off our weekly Instagram game, called #WhereAmIWednesday. Each Wednesday, we post a photo taken somewhere at Graceland, and it’s up to you to figure out exactly where that photo was taken at the king’s castle. Play along with us!

Elvis for President

How about a king for president?

Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, handed out “Elvis for President” buttons in 1956. We updated the idea for the 2016 campaign.

How about a king for president? In 2015, we launched the Elvis for President campaign, which – like any other presidential campaign – concluded in November 2016. We shared our reasons to vote for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, gave away Elvis for President campaign kits and more. The campaign may be over, but get your patriotic feelings on over at the Elvis for President page.

Feeling the (Burnin’) Love

Take a walk in the king's shoes at Graceland.

Take a walk in the king’s shoes at Graceland.

Elvis Presley’s Graceland definitely felt the love from travel writers and bloggers in 2016. Just this year alone, we were listed as one of Money Magazine’s 7 Best Domestic Destinations, one of Southern Living’s Southern Places to Visit Before You Die, the Must-See Home in Tennessee in USA Today, a must-do in Thrillist’s Great American Bucket List: 50 Things to Do in the U.S. Before You Die and one of HouseBeautiful’s 50 Most Famous Historic Homes. We definitely think we’re a must-see – don’t you?

We definitely took care of business in 2016, and we can’t wait for 2017. It’s going to be an incredible year!

See you at Graceland!


18 Comments

  1. I’ve been to Graceland once in 1979. Back then visitors only went to the graves and then we left. It felt good to pay respects to a human being who functioned well beyond his human weaknesses. Most people should live such transcendent lives.

  2. debbie marche

    I was there for the first time and loved every minute of it

  3. We visited the Guest House this November, loved it! Can’t wait to come back next year. Levi’s forever!!! xxx

  4. Patricia Snow

    Nothing like Graceland,hope to get to see all new attractions before long.

  5. Louanne Fox

    Keep up the good work We can NEVER have too much ELVIS !!!!!!!!I moved to TENNESSEE to be closer to ELVIS. I have loved him for 55 years

  6. Nick Jackson

    Great memories

  7. Pamela Blevins

    Visited Graceland for the 1st time this year. It was definitely an amazing experience. Looking forward to returning. Elvis was & will forever be the “KING OF ROCK N ROLL”

  8. Lee oastler

    Im coming over in august for his reunion staying at the guest house ,,with my friend noeleen looking forward to it

  9. Shirley Wright

    LOVE HIS MUSIC, especially his Gospel!!!! I WANT HIM TO SING WE I PASS AWAY. I HAVE SOME OF MY SONGS PICKED OUT!!! LOVE HIM AND GOD BLESS HIS FAMILY THAT HE LEFT BEHIND!!!!

  10. John Davis

    Coming tomorrow and Monday.

  11. Rena Milota

    I love hearing about what has been going on at Graceland. I hope to come visit soon Elvis and I share the same birth date.I love every thing Elvis.

  12. Delmira

    Maravilloso,Soy de Argentina y mi mayor deseo es visitar Graceland

  13. Delmira

    Por siempre Elvis

  14. stephen

    I was struck how open Graceland was when I went. The home was not hidden like so many of the other country stars I drove by in TN. Here’s the biggest name of them all and he’s out there on the highway allowing people to come to the gates at all hours. What I really appreciate about Elvis is how he was being photographed in 1956 with black artists (BB King, Bobby Blue Bland, Rufus Thomas) long before the Civil Rights legislation was passed. No other white artist did that back then. That speaks volumes about EP’s integrity.

  15. Bob Lubowitz

    Disappointing response by US fans to most recent Elvis releases. Looks like we should take a lesson from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Australia where support for Elvis’s music is still strong. Complaints re: Elvis’s music being joined by RPO lead to dismal sales here in the States. Response to “Jungle Room” , which left no doubt about how Elvis wanted his music, even less favorable. If we American fans don’t get behind the efforts to bring Elvis’s musical legacy to a new generation his relevance will be disregarded by the main-stream media and Sony will decide to discourage Jorgensen’s ongoing projects and, likely, shut things down. I’m not going to live forever. It would be nice to know that Elvis’s inestimable contribution to music will recognized and continue for generations to come, as it has for The Beatles and Old Blue Eyes.

  16. judi Tabor

    Whoever is in charge really has their act together and is doing a fantastic job with Graceland. Kudos to everyone who works there and contributes to keeping Elvis alive in our hearts and our lives. I have been to Graceland once and can hardly wait to get there again. I listen to the Elvis channel on Serius XM radio every single day….cannot get enough of his beautiful voice. I was so fortunate to be able to see him in person in Richmond Va. in 1972 while we were living there. An experience I will NEVER forget. I am a sponge, wanting to soak up everything Elvis. Congratulations on the beautiful guesthouse. Will stay there on my next visit. Judi

  17. Carol Nett

    Love his music and Elvis. We were in Graceland last year and I recommend anyone who has not seen it should go. It is just fabulous.

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