Elvis Week 2019 Survival Guide
Elvis Week officially runs from August 9 through August 17, 2019.
Whether you’re visiting Memphis for the week or are a local preparing for the influx of visiting Elvis lovers, here’s what you need to know. You can see the full schedule here.
1. They’re not impersonators, they’re tribute artists.
Please, don’t call the people paying musical homage to Elvis impersonators. The official term is Elvis Tribute Artists (ETAs for short). There will be plenty of them in town, and while some have greased their hair for fun, others have worked really hard and won a series of preliminary competitions around the country.
They’re here to compete in the official Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest.
2. Plan ahead.
There are a ton of Elvis Week events and most of them require tickets. For the full schedule and details go here.
There are also several unofficial and community Elvis-related events happening around town all week, from ETA concerts to banana-and-peanut-butter cake specials. Check out the full list of unofficial ways to celebrate Elvis Week in Memphis here.
3. Check Out The Other Elvis and Memphis Music Sites
After you go to Graceland, there’s plenty more Memphis music history to explore. Visit Sun Studios (where Elvis got his big break), Levitt Shell (where he played his first concert), and Lauderdale Courts (where he lived as a teen).
You can also take one of the excellent Backbeat Tours – they ride you around town in style while they tell you (and sing about) Memphis’ musical history. Especially if you’re just in town for the week, you’ll want to soak up as much Memphis music as you can, so make time for the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and the Stax Musuem, too.
Rockabilly Rides is another tour you’ll want to look into as well.
Don’t miss shopping at Lanksy Bros. Clothier to the King at 126 Beale Street (in the photo above) for all your Elvis-inspired outfits (yes, they have blue suede shoes) as well as a bunch of cool Memphis and rock ‘n’ roll t-shirts.
4. 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 on August 15, beginning at 8:30 p.m. (thought people will line up many hours earlier). It’s free for all to attend.
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. Read contributor Veena’s account of the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ Candlelight Vigil from 2017 here.
5. Make time to people watch.
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. Please, please tag me in your photos. I want to see these folks. I’m at @ilovememphis on Twitter or @ilovememphisblog on Instagram.
6. Be prepared for traffic and crowds.
In recent years, about 35,000 people came to Memphis for Elvis week. That’s a lot. Consider that many of those people will be making their pilgrimage by car and staying downtown, so prepare to deal with heavy foot and car traffic, especially on Elvis Presley Boulevard and downtown/Beale Street area.
If you’re going to those areas, allow yourself plenty of extra time. If you’re planning to hang out at Graceland for a while, there’s plenty of parking, which you can pay for via card or cash.
7. Check out some of the extra-curricular Elvis Week activities
Let me be clear: these aren’t official Elvis Week events, but they do show that Memphis is embracing the King and his fans this week. I’ll be happy to add to this as we learn of them. If you know of others, please leave them in the comments.
8. Be Nice
Welcome our Elvis Week visitors to the Memphis area with class. Give directions and suggestions, sing along if you know the words, and don’t be afraid to make some new friends. It’s what the King would have wanted.
9. Find out more information
If you’re visiting and have stumbled upon this blog post, welcome! I will be on Twitter all week @ilovememphis answering questions. Plus, there are ten years worth of posts about Memphis on this blog, so don’t be afraid to use the search bar if you’re look for something in particular. Here are some things you might find particularly helpful:
– Download the official Elvis Week App at https://www.graceland.com/
– If you want to stay connected to all the official sources for Elvis Week and Graceland info, you can visit ElvisWeek.com, follow Graceland on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, read the official Graceland blog, or watch the events via livestream at https://livestream.com/
– I have a Handy Dandy Memphis Cheat Sheet written specifically for folks who are only in town for a few days. You can check that out here.
Happy Elvis Week!