2010 Elvis Week Survival Guide
Memphians and die-hard Elvis fans know that there are actually two Elvis weeks in Memphis. The bigger of the two is held annually on the week of Elvis’ death in August. A smaller celebration in January celebrates the King’s birth.
Elvis Week 2010 runs from Tuesday, August 10th through Monday, August 16th. This year’s festivities are going to be particularly large – if Elvis were still living, he would have turned 75 this year.
Whether you’re visiting Memphis for the week or are a local preparing to deal with the onslaught, here are a few Elvis Week 2010 survival tips:
– Be prepared for traffic
Graceland estimates Elvis Week 2010’s attendance to be anywhere from 30,000 to 45,000 people. That’s a lot. Consider that many of those people will be making their pilgrimage by car and prepare to deal with heavy traffic, especially on Elvis Presley Boulevard. If you’re headed that way, allow yourself plenty of extra time. If you’re planing to hang out at Graceland for a while, there’s plenty of parking. However, they charge $10 per car, so bring some cash.
– They’re not impersonators, they’re tribute artists
Please, don’t call the people paying musical homage to Elvis impersonators. They prefer to be called “tribute artists”. There will be plenty of them in town, and some of them are a respectable alternative to the real thing. Most can be found at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Finals on Friday, August 13th at the Orpheum Theatre downtown.
– Plan ahead
Every year, there are a ton of Elvis Week events all over town. Some are official Graceland-sanctioned events and others are annual local parties (like the Dead Elvis Ball at the P&H Cafe). It’s best to plan ahead, especially if you’ve got limited time. Check the official Elvis Week schedule of events, and keep an eye on Facebook for the smaller, local festivities. I also recommend buying advance tickets to most of the official events.
– Check Out Some Lesser-Known Elvis Sites
If you want a more complete Elvis experience, visit Sun Studios (where he got his big break), Levitt Shell, Lauderdale Courts (where he lived as a teen), and the Hi-Tone Cafe (the former site of Elvis’ karate dojo, now a club). You can also take one of the excellent Backbeat tours – they ride you around town in vintage style while they tell you (and sing about) Memphis’ musical history.
– Go to the Candlelight Vigil
The Vigil is the centerpiece of Elvis Week, and all visitors and locals should do it at least once. It’s a somber, candlelit walk past Elvis’ grave at Graceland on the day of the King’s death (August 16th). Elvis Presley Blvd. is closed, and many people set up elaborate roadside shrines. You’ll probably be in line for a while, so pack a snack and plan to make some friends.
– Take some time for people watching
Whether you park yourself at the downtown Flying Saucer window, walk along Beale at dusk or have dinner at Marlowe’s on Elvis Presley, the people watching during Elvis Week can’t be beat. If you run into the Bishop of Beale Street, have him give you a blessing.
– Get into the act
A lot of Memphians have the tendency to hide when Elvis Week comes around. This year, I’m gently urging you, native Memphians, to get out and experience some of Elvis Week. Go to the Vigil, don some Elvis sunglasses, and get in on the act a little bit, even if it is just one Elvis song at Yosemite Sam’s karaoke night. Find out why so many people head to our fair city every August.
– Be Nice
This goes for everyone – be nice. Welcome our Elvis Week visitors to the Memphis with class. Give directions if you know them, sing along if you know the words, and don’t be afraid to make some new friends. Its’ what the King would have wanted.