Graceland has evolved in the last few years, and it’s now much more than just the Mansion.
I’ve talked before about “Elvis Presley’s Memphis,” which is the complex across the street from the popular Mansion that opened in 2017. It features the Presley Motors car museum, a museum focused on Elvis’ career achievements, the Graceland Soundstage concert venue and two cafeteria-style restaurants. Vernon’s Smokehouse and Gladys’ Diner are of course named after Prelsey’s parents.
This year, the Soundstage has seriously ramped up its concert offerings, hosting Boz Scaggs, Don McLean, and Chubby Checker back in June. This fall, they have plenty on the lineup, including The Oak Ridge Boys, Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul, Melissa Etheridge, and Elvis Costello.
This past summer, Graceland opened another facility called The Graceland Exhibition Center. It’s mostly for renting out events (corporate retreats, dinners, weddings, parties) but there’s also a “Jungle Room” themed bar and three exhibition spaces that will have rotating exhibits. The first three exhibits include artifacts and interactive museum-like spaces that are all family friendly. I checked it out a few weeks ago, and I think motorcycle fans will enjoy all the historic bikes on display in Century of the American Motorcycle room, and I think kids will like the fun Nat Geo interactive stuff in the Earth Explorers room. I was most impressed with the Mohammed Ali exhibit, which was extremely well-designed and full of fascinating artifacts from Ali and information on his career and political activism.
Graceland also opened up a new wedding chapel on their grounds - did you know that tons of people from around the world come to this chapel to exchange vows? Its opening coincided with the release of the Hallmark Channel movie, “Wedding At Graceland,” which is a sequel to last year’s hit holiday Hallmark flick, “Christmas at Graceland.” The movie series, which stars Kellie Pickler and Wes Brown, will continue this Christmas season with the creatively titled “Christmas at Graceland 2.”
Speaking of Christmas at Graceland, did you know that each year, the staff decks out the mansion and surrounding property in the same way that Elvis and his family once decorated their home?
This year, starting on Nov. 21, they’ll flip the switch on colorful lights, Santa and his reindeer and more. They’ll also have a holiday concert weekend on Dec. 13-14. It’s a way to close out another exciting year in Memphis. I’ll have more ideas for enjoying autumn and the holidays during our city’s bicentennial year next month.
Holly Whitfield is the writer behind the I Love Memphis Blog and a part of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. Every day, she writes about Memphis news, culture, events, music, food, and sports at ILoveMemphisBlog.com. You can also follow I Love Memphis on Facebook at Facebook.com/ILoveMemphis.