Graceland's Top Moments of 2019

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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 2019

2019 was the year things got all shook up – in a good way! – at Graceland.

We added more events to our calendar, including concerts and themed weekends, plus we expanded the Graceland campus, filmed two new movies here and – as always – did our best to continue the legacy of Elvis Presley and introduce him to a new generation of fans.

Check out a list of our top moments of 2019, listed below in no particular order. Did you join us for any of these events?

Live Music at the King’s Castle

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll commanded a stage like no other. He loved performing live, and he loved attending concerts, too. It’s fitting, then, that Graceland teamed up with Live Nation to bring live music to the Graceland campus. Graceland Live has bought a variety of shows to the Soundstage at Graceland and The Guest House at Graceland Theater, including legends like Elvis Costello, Chubby Checker, Melissa Etheridge, George Thorogood & the Destroyers, Brian Setzer and Boz Scaggs; rock acts like the Violent Femmes, Dream Theater, Switchfoot and Frank Turner (pictured); gospel greats Kirk Franklin and Commissioned; plus comedian Heather McMahan and pop group Why Don’t We. The Graceland Live line up for 2020 is already amazing, with acts like Tanya Tucker, Lee Brice, Tesla, David Crosby and Cake on the horizon. Find out more about these shows, and sign up for our LiveFeed e-newsletter, at

Celebrating America, the Elvis Way

Graceland’s first-ever All-American July 4th Getaway was a blast – literally. Elvis loved fireworks, so to celebrate Independence Day, Graceland hosted a huge family-friendly celebration, complete with live music, food, face painting, bounce houses and a fireworks show choreographed to the king’s music. The celebrations continued that weekend with an amazing show by Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. Watch the fireworks show.

Honoring Our Troops

In March, Graceland celebrated our troops (and the 61st anniversary of Elvis’ induction into the US Army) with a Military Weekend. Celebrations included a Bret Michaels concert, a special Graceland Archives show and tell in the Private Presley exhibit, care package donation drive and more.  

Expanding Interests

 Elvis was always learning, always reading, always interested in the world around him. In the spirit of Elvis’ pursuit of knowledge, we opened the Graceland Exhibition Center at Graceland in 2019. The Exhibition Center, located just behind the Elvis Presley’s Memphis complex across the street from Graceland, has been home to exhibits that aren’t necessarily Elvis-related. The first exhibits included Muhammad Ali: Greatest of All Time, National Geographic Presents: Earth Explorers and A Century of the American Motorcycle. The exhibits now on display are Journey to Space and Expedition: Dinosaurs. The exhibits have been a big hit with Elvis fans, kids and anyone who, like Elvis, enjoys learning. The GEC is also home to the stylish Jungle Room Bar, which is inspired by the Jungle Room at the mansion, and several restaurants serving up everything from burgers to burritos. Learn more about the Graceland Exhibition Center.

Celebrating Southern Style

Graceland’s first-ever Elegant Southern Style Weekend went beyond the basics of Southern hospitality. The weekend, hosted by Priscilla Presley, featured seminars on everything from Southern cooking to décor to fashion. There were completely unique parties, too, where guests learned to line dance and enjoy a meal at sunset near the Graceland stables. Priscilla shared how she and Elvis worked to make their home as stylish and welcoming as possible. Panelists like Leigh Anne Touhy, Jim NortonArt Chadwick, Pat Kerr, Troy Williams and Kelly English shared their expertise, too.

It was such a blast and guests loved it so much that we’re doing it again in March 2020! Learn more about Elegant Southern Style - Spring Edition.

Sock Hops, Soap Operas and Stars – Oh My

Speaking of specially-themed weekends, we hosted more than ever this year at Graceland! It all kicked off with a “General Hospital” weekend, which celebrated the long-running soap opera with the stars of the show. Hallmark Channel’s June Weddings Fan Celebration arrived in the spring, featuring stars of Hallmark Channel’s June Weddings movies and lots of parties and special events. We also celebrated the fabulous 50s with a weekend that included a Chubby Checker concert and a sock hop.

The 2020 “General Hospital” weekend is coming up in January, and we’re hosting a “Twin Peaks” 30th anniversary fan celebration in April.

Lights, Camera… Graceland!

Graceland and the Hallmark Channel are bringing movie magic to you!

It all started in 2018 with the Hallmark Channel Original Movie, “Christmas at Graceland,” starring Wes Brown and Kellie Pickler. It was such a hit and fans wanted more of Kellie and Wes, so in the spring of 2019, their story continued with a new movie, “Wedding at Graceland.” This winter, a new Hallmark Channel Original Movie, “Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays,” starring Adrien Grenier and Kaitlin Doubleday, was another big success. Both “Wedding at Graceland” and “Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays” were filmed on location at Graceland in 2019 and feature more of Graceland, including Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods and the new Graceland Exhibition Center.

Paying Tribute to the King

Graceland’s Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest winners Ben Thompson (pictured), Cody Ray Slaughter, Jay Dupuis, Shawn Klush, Bill Cherry and Dwight Icenhower returned to Graceland in the spring for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Weekend! There was no contest – just two nights of celebrating Elvis. The guys’ performances spanned all eras of Elvis’ career and fans had a blast lining up to catch a smooch or scarf.

The 2020 Ultimate ETA Weekend is February 28-29 – get your tickets now!

X’s & O’s: Elvis and His Love of Football

In December, we celebrated the king’s favorite sport with a new exhibit, X’s & O’s: Elvis and His Love of Football. The exhibit features Elvis’ handwritten plays, sports equipment and memorabilia and more. The exhibit, located in the Haberdashery at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, features many artifacts that have never or rarely been on display at Graceland. Find out more about this exhibit.

50 Years of “Suspicious Minds” and More

1969 was an incredible year of music for Elvis, and two new releases celebrated the 50th  anniversary of the king’s music from that year.

The box set “Live 1969” features 11 complete sets from Elvis’ August 1969 engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. Of those performances, four were released for the first time ever – including two shows that were almost completely unheard for 50 years. Purchase this set now from Shop Graceland.

“Live at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, NV August 26, 1969” is a two-LP set that features Elvis’ complete set from the August 26 midnight show. Purchase this set now from Shop Graceland.

Merry Christmas, Baby

Did you know that Christmas was Elvis’ favorite holiday? Elvis loved decorating for the holidays, and every year, we celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with our annual Lighting Ceremony. With the premiere of the Hallmark Channel movie “Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays” on the horizon, the movie’s cast members flipped the switch on the king’s lights. Country star Chase Bryant, who appeared in the movie, performed a mix of his biggest hits and Christmas tunes at the ceremony, too. Following the ceremony, fans gathered for the world premiere of “Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays” at the Soundstage at Graceland. Watch the 2019 Lighting Ceremony now.

Graceland Honored with Two Awards

The fans have spoken, and Graceland is No. 1!

For the second year in a row, Graceland was named the Best Holiday Historic Home Tour by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. The mansion was voted into the top spot by Elvis fans and readers of USA Today’s popular 10Best online travel site. Graceland was among 20 of the nation’s most historic homes nominated by a panel of travel writers and photographers.

Earlier in 2019, Graceland also won the Readers’ Choice Award for Best Tennessee Attraction and Iconic Landmark.

Not-So-Silent Nights

For the third year in a row, we celebrated Elvis’ Christmas music at our Holiday Concert Weekend, December 13-14. The weekend included a beautiful concert featuring members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and dancers from Memphis' New Ballet Ensemble, plus a fun show celebrating Elvis’ “Christmas Peace” album with performances by Memphis musicians like John Paul Keith, Reagan Strange, John Nemeth, Wendy Moten, the Tennessee Mass Choir, Keith Paluso and Drake Milligan. Elvis’ bass player Norbert Putnam also performed on a few tracks and shared his memories of working with Elvis.

Happy Birthday, Elvis

Elvis’ 84th  birthday was celebrated in style at Graceland in January 2019.

2019 also marks the 200th anniversary of the city of Memphis. The king’s birthday cake at the Birthday Proclamation Ceremony reflected his love of the Bluff City, as it featured Memphis hot spots like Sun Studio, the Mid-South Coliseum and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Levitt Shell, plus one of Elvis’ most famous quotes: “Somebody asked me what I miss most about Memphis and I said everything.” Watch the 2019 Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony now.

The birthday festivities also included special tours of Graceland with Elvis’ friend Jerry Schilling, a “Viva Las Vegas” sing-along, Elvis Birthday Party on Wheels, Elvis Birthday Bash and more.

We have a big celebration planned for the king’s 85th birthday in a few weeks – learn more!

“Play It, James!”

Speaking of birthdays, we celebrated another big birthday at Graceland this year – the 80th birthday of Elvis’ TCB Band guitarist James Burton. The exclusive birthday party took place just after Elvis Week at the Jungle Room Bar featured a guitar-themed cake, plus music by Memphis musician John Paul Keith and a host of James’ friends and fans.

Elvis All-Star Tribute

Who ISN’T an Elvis fan?

A new special, “ELVIS All-Star Tribute,” aired on NBC in February and proved that everyone still loves the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The show honored Elvis and his iconic ’68 Special, with great performances by the likes of Yolanda Adams, Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, Keith Urban, Adam Lambert, Post Malone, Blake Shelton, Shawn Mendes, Jennifer Lopez, Pistol Annies and more.

Following the special, many of the artists donated outfits, equipment and other items to go on display in the newly expanded ICONS: The Influence of Elvis Presley exhibit at Graceland.

Graceland’s Celebrity Visitors

Celebrities – they’re just like us!

Celebrities are always stopping by the king’s castle when they’re traveling to or through Memphis, and you never know who you’ll see at Graceland. Just a few of this year’s celebrity visitors include “Outlander” star Sam Heughan (pictured), “Bluff City Law” stars Caitlin McGee and Jimmy Smits, singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth, singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan, country star Toby Keith and singer-songwriter Elle King. Artists who performed as part of Graceland Live – such as Boz Scaggs, Elvis Costello and Heather McMahan – also toured the mansion following their performances. Check out a list of Graceland's celebrity visitors.

Next Generation of Entertainers

Graceland’s Performing Arts Camp returned this summer, and it was full of singing, dancing, acting and – of course – Elvis! Inspired by Elvis, kids from around the world gathered at Graceland to learn what it takes to be a star. They made lifelong friendships and were encouraged to give it their all on the stage. They made Elvis proud – and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year’s camp!

Taylor Rodriguez Named Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist

Each year during Elvis Week, Graceland hosts the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest to find the world’s best tribute artist. This year, that honor went to Taylor Rodriguez, 21, of Lynchburg, Virginia. Taylor is a lifelong Elvis fan, so he was thrilled to take home the prize.

Runners up include second place winner Radney Pennington, third place winner Cote Deonath and top five finalists Diogo Light and Jake Slater.

Elvis Week 2019

The biggest celebration at Graceland is Elvis Week, and the 2019 festival did not disappoint. From the exciting Ultimate ETA Contest to the Ultimate Return event, from the American Sound concert and panel to the Viva Las Vegas panel and concert, Elvis fans were endlessly entertained and learned even more about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Special guests at this year’s Elvis Week included legendary singers B.J. Thomas and Ronnie Milsap, “Suspicious Minds” writer Mark James, Elvis’ secretaries Bonya McGarrity and Pat West, The Sweet Inspirations’ Estelle Brown and many more.

Candlelight Vigil

The Graceland Mansion grounds were all aglow with the light from thousands of candles and a beautiful full moon on the night of August 15.

Thousands of fans from around the world gathered at Graceland to participate in the annual Candlelight Vigil, the cornerstone event of Elvis Week. They created tributes and shrines on the streets of Elvis Presley Boulevard and sang along with Elvis songs throughout the night. The Elvis Country Fan Club, which started the Vigil more than 40 years ago, declared that the 2019 Candlelight Vigil theme was “It Keeps Right on a Hurtin.'" Watch the 2019 Candlelight Vigil.

What was your favorite event or moment that took place at Graceland this year?

We have more amazing moments in store for 2020, so start planning your Graceland experience now!

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