Graceland's Top Moments of 2018

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Graceland Blog


Welcome to the official blog of Elvis Presley’s Graceland! You can take Elvis-inspired quizzes, get first-looks on events here at Graceland and how-to guides on everything you need to know about Elvis and his home. Like Elvis, we come with a little southern charm

Graceland's Top Moments of 2018

What a year it’s been, Elvis fans.

There are so many reasons – 26, in fact – to celebrate as 2018 ends. From a new gospel album to Graceland’s first-ever Military Appreciation Weekend, from a new wedding chapel to a new Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest winner, so many incredible moments and celebrations took place at Elvis Presley’s Graceland in 2018. 

Let’s look back at Graceland’s Top Moments of 2018, in no particular order.

Elvis Presley Honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom
On November 16, 2018, Elvis Presley was honored with the highest civilian award in the United States: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It recognizes those people who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." No doubt the king would be proud and humbled by this award. You can now see it for yourself in Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum at Elvis Presley’s Memphis at Graceland.

“Where No One Stands Alone”
Elvis Presley topped the charts in 2018 with a new gospel record, “Where No One Stands Alone.” The album hit #1 on the Billboard Christian Album Chart, #1 on the Billboard Physical Album Chart and #1 on the Billboard Vinyl Album Chart. The groundbreaking album celebrated Elvis’ love of gospel music and features a new duet with his daughter, Lisa Marie, on the title track. The album was released in August, just in time for Elvis Week – where Lisa Marie appeared to discuss the album and to sign copies for fans.

Several singers who performed gospel music with Elvis also appear on the album, including Dr. Cissy Houston; Darlene Love; Terry Blackwood, Armond Morales and Jim Murray of The Imperials; and Donnie Sumner, Bill Baize, Ed Hill and Larry Strickland of The Stamps. Order a copy of “Where No One Stands Alone.” 

“Elvis Presley: The Searcher”
Fascination with Elvis’ creative and artistic genius continues to this day. “Elvis Presley: The Searcher,” a three-hour, two-film documentary about Elvis the musical artist, debuted on HBO in April 2018.  Directed by Thom Zimny, “The Searcher” featured more than 20 new, primary source interviews with Elvis’ fellow musicians, plus his friends and family. The documentary features never-before-seen photos and footage, and features beautiful atmospheric shots taken inside Graceland. Following its premiere at SXSW, the film was screened at The Guest House at Graceland in March, with executive producers Priscilla Presley and Jerry Schilling in attendance. Buy your copy of “The Searcher” now.

“Christmas at Graceland”
2018 was a big year for Graceland in the movies! Also in 2018, the Hallmark Channel Original Movie “Christmas at Graceland,” starring Kellie Pickler and Wes Brown, was filmed at the king’s castle. The movie was filmed in July and premiered on the Hallmark Channel to stunning ratings on November 17. The movie had its world premiere on the Graceland Soundstage on November 15 with several stars and director Eric Close in attendance. The movie is now available to purchase at Wal-Mart. Will more Hallmark movies be filmed at Graceland in 2019? Wait and see.

Performing Arts Camp
While cast and crew were busy filming a movie at Graceland in July, a group of talented young Elvis fans were taking part at Graceland’s first-ever Performing Arts Camp. The campers learned all about singing, dancing and acting, and took time to tour Graceland and learn more about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. At the end of the camp, the kids put on a fun recital that featured a musical “tour” of Graceland. The dates are already set for the 2019 camp – we’d love to see your child at camp next year!

Elvis Birthday Celebration 2018
Fans from around the world gathered at Graceland in January to celebrate Elvis’ birthday. A large, ’68 Special-themed cake was the star of the show at the Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony, and special guests for the weekend were Elvis’ friend and country star T.G. Sheppard and Elvis’ “Speedway” co-star Victoria Paige Meyerink. The Elvis Birthday Celebration 2019 is next week – join us!


Ben Thompson Crowned Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist 2018
UK-based performer Ben Thompson won the 2018 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest during Elvis Week. Thompson, who has been an Elvis fan since he was a child, began performing as Elvis at 15 and has entertained audiences around the world. Congratulations, Ben!

You can catch Ben and several of our past winners at the upcoming Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Weekend Showcase, set for March 1-2, 2019.


New Wedding Chapel Opens
Graceland celebrated the opening of a new Chapel in the Woods wedding chapel during Elvis Week. The new chapel is nestled in the woods between the mansion and The Guest House at Graceland and makes for a lovely setting for an intimate wedding. Julie and Marc, the first couple married at the new chapel, are Elvis fans who met during a previous Elvis Week. Book your own wedding at Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods now!

Graceland Excursions
The tour experience offered here at Graceland grew with the introduction of Graceland Excursions in January 2018. Weekly trips to Tupelo, Mississippi – the birthplace of Elvis Presley – offers fans a chance to see where Elvis’ story began. Tours to the Mississippi Delta are available for groups who want to explore the roots of Elvis’ sound. Book your trip today!

2019 Elvis Week Changes Announced
Mark your calendar for August 9-17 – that’s Elvis Week 2019. Shortly after the ’18 festivities wrapped, Graceland announced that several changes were coming to next year’s Elvis Week. A few of those changes include: no charges or special passes associated with Candlelight Vigil and a new exhibition space, which will be the new location for the entertainment tent.

Gates of Graceland Videos
Graceland’s web series, the Gates of Graceland, continued in 2018 with a slew of videos that covered everything in Elvis’ life from his charitable giving to his favorite sports and much more. You'll also hear from our Archives team on how they keep Elvis artifacts in top condition, and from Elvis' co-stars on what it was like to star in a film with the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Watch all of the episodes now!

Holiday Concert Weekend
Graceland celebrated the season and Elvis with our second annual Holiday Concert Weekend! The weekend, December 14-15, featured three fun and festive concerts: Christmas with Elvis at Graceland – with a Live Orchestra; An Elvis Gospel Christmas; and Elvis Live in Concert – with an All-Star Band. Legendary guitarist James Burton, who was a member of Elvis’ TCB Band, performed at the Elvis Live in Concert show and wowed the crowd with his chops. "American Trilogy" from Elvis' "Aloha from Hawaii" performance was especially powerful with pyro at the end of the song. The Holiday Concert Weekend will return in 2019, so stay tuned to for more details.

New Exhibit - Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley
In August during Elvis Week, Lisa Marie Presley and her daughter, Riley, cut the ribbon on a new exhibit at Elvis Presley’s Memphis. Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley focuses on the king’s daughter, her childhood at Graceland and her music career. In the exhibit, you’ll see childhood toys, rarely seen photos, stagewear and much more. Book your ticket to Graceland now to see this exhibit! 

Candlelight Vigil 
The annual Candlelight Vigil is the highlight of any Elvis Week, and the 2018 vigil was no different. Hundreds of Elvis fans from around the world walked up to the Meditation Garden in quiet remembrance of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Watch the Candlelight Vigil now.

Military Appreciation Weekend
Elvis was inducted into the U.S. Army in March 1958. Sixty years later, Graceland hosted its inaugural Military Appreciation Weekend in March 2018. Members of the military, veterans and first responders received special discounts on their Graceland tours and enjoyed exploring an expanded version of our Private Presley exhibit at Elvis Presley’s Memphis. Members of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department Pipes & Drums performed two great sets of music, too. Look out for the Military Appreciation Weekend to come back bigger and better March 22-23, 2019!

Celebrity Guests to Graceland
We often say, “You never know who you’ll see at Graceland” – and that’s so true. Celebrities show up at the king’s castle often. Just a few of our celebrity guests in 2018 include musicians such as Lana Del Rey, Kacey Musgraves, Beck and Dua Lipa; bands like the Foo Fighters, 5 Seconds of Summer and Phoenix; actress Toni Collette; designer Rachel Roy and journalist Nancy Grace.  See a full list of our celebrity visitors on

’68 Special Turns 50
The ’68 Special aired on December 3, 1968, making 2018 the 50th anniversary of the king’s iconic special. To celebrate this anniversary, “Elvis Presley – ’68 Special Comeback Special (50th Anniversary Edition)” was released in November, and this set is the definitive chronicle of the special. A 2LP vinyl set, “The King in the Ring,” was also released in November, and it features the music from the “sit down” sets of the special. Get your hands on these sets now.

Elvis Week Celebrates the ’68 Special
Speaking of the ’68 Special, that was the unofficial theme for Elvis Week 2018. During Elvis Week, fans heard from the creative team who helped Elvis put the special together, including director Steve Binder, writer Alan Blye, musical director Billy Goldenberg and dancer Tanya Lemani George. Later in the week, fans were wowed by an enhanced screening of the special, which featured Binder, Goldenberg, George and Blye sharing behind-the-scenes stories, a showcase of Elvis’ suits from the special, and a gospel choir performance. 

Graceland Tops 10Best Lists
Elvis fans continue to support the king and Graceland year after year – and 2018 was no exception. Graceland won three USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards in 2018: Best Tennessee Attraction, Best Musical Attraction, and Best Holiday Historic Home Tour. These awards are given to the attractions with the most votes from readers and fans – so thank you, thank you very much, Elvis fans! 

Viral ETAs
The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Semifinalists – plus our 2013 winner Dean Z – enjoyed a sing-along on a shuttle between The Guest House at Graceland and the Graceland Soundstage during Elvis Week. This simple, happy little video went viral, with more than 3 million views. Watch it now for yourself and smile!

Exhibits Grow, Expand
The Private Presley exhibit wasn’t the only exhibit to change at Elvis Presley’s Memphis this year. Presley Cycles grew in December, with the addition of a few more of Elvis’ wheels, new photos and more. Country star Marty Stuart, who has amassed an impressive country music artifact collection, updated his The Country Road to Rock exhibit at Graceland with a new exhibit, called Hillbilly Rock. The new exhibit features items from Stuart’s collection that tell the story of how rock ‘n’ roll and country music influence each other. Artifacts from artists like Johnny Cash, Kacey Musgraves, Wynonna Judd and Little Jimmy Dickens are on display in Hillbilly Rock now.

A Country Christmas
Speaking of Stuart, he was on hand to flip the switch on Graceland’s Christmas lights, along with country star Scotty McCreery, at the annual Lighting Ceremony. Scotty sang a few tunes, including his latest hits and Christmas favorites, after the ceremony. Watch the Lighting Ceremony now.

Honoring Gladys Presley
August 14, 2018 marked the 60th anniversary of the passing of Gladys Presley, Elvis’ mother. To honor her, her original headstone was added to the Meditation Garden during Elvis Week. 



The King’s Duke
A Tennessee Walking Horse named Duke became the newest resident at the Graceland stables in 2018. Since arriving early in the year, Duke has acclimated well to the stables and to our horses, Bandit, Tucker and Max. 

Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Weekend Showcase
In March 2018, Graceland hosted its first-ever Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Weekend Showcase, featuring past winners of the Ultimate ETA Contest performing their favorite Elvis tunes. Fans loved the weekend, which featured powerful performances by Justin Shandor, Dwight Icenhower, Jay Dupuis, David Lee, Cody Slaughter and Shawn Klush. The next Ultimate ETA Weekend Showcase is March 1-2, 2019, and we hope to see you back at Graceland for that exciting weekend!

Just Announced: Graceland Live
One of our last major announcements of 2018 is a big one for 2019. In December, we announced Graceland Live, a partnership between Graceland and Live Nation that will bring live concerts to the Graceland Soundstage and The Guest House at Graceland Theater in 2019. We can’t wait to announce the first slate of shows. Go to to sign up for LiveFeed and get the latest announcements.

We hope you enjoyed our walk down memory lane here at Graceland! Thank you for being a part of our wonderful 2018.

We can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store – join us, won’t you?

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