Graceland, the iconic Memphis estate of the legendary Elvis Presley, has transformed into a sacred pilgrimage site for fans from all over the world. With over 600,000 visitors annually, Graceland at Christmas has become one of the most popular times to experience the enchantment of this historic property. Steeped in nostalgia and adorned with festive decor, Graceland preserves the cherished Christmas traditions of the King himself. Let’s explore the magical world of Graceland at Christmas and discover how the staff keeps Elvis’s spirit alive during this joyous season.
A Christmas Enthusiast
Elvis Presley had an undeniable love for Christmas. According to Angie Marchese, the vice president of archives and exhibits at Graceland, Christmas was Elvis’s favorite holiday. With a passion for giving, he would generously donate $1,000 to 50 charities across Memphis during the holiday season. This philanthropic spirit blended harmoniously with his adoration for the festivities, making Christmas a special time at Graceland.
A Winter Wonderland
As the Thanksgiving season approaches, Graceland undergoes a magical transformation into a winter wonderland. Following Elvis’s wishes, the estate is adorned with festive decorations, capturing the essence of the holiday season. The staff at Graceland meticulously recreates Presley’s Christmas traditions, ensuring that visitors experience the same joy and wonder that the King himself cherished.
Reliving the Past
To recreate the magic of Elvis’s Christmas celebrations, the Graceland staff delves into the archives and references the King’s personal preferences. The original red drapes, which Elvis would have switched out for the holidays, are carefully preserved and hung every year. These crimson curtains add a touch of warmth and festivity to the rooms, setting the stage for a truly enchanting experience.
Decking the Halls
The dining room at Graceland holds a special place in Elvis’s Christmas traditions. This is where the main Christmas tree would stand, adorned with lights, tinsel, and an eclectic array of ornaments. Interestingly, the tinsel used on the tree today is the same tinsel that Elvis himself meticulously hung. Priscilla Presley recalls Elvis playfully throwing the tinsel like snowballs, and miraculously, it has survived as a treasured artifact in Graceland’s archives.
Presley’s preferred style of Christmas tree decoration was extravagant and eclectic, reflecting his unique personality and taste. The Graceland staff continues this tradition, ensuring that the tree is lavishly adorned with an assortment of ornaments, just as Elvis would have liked it.
An Outdoor Wonderland
Elvis’s love for Christmas extended beyond the walls of Graceland, as he transformed the surrounding lawns into a magical outdoor wonderland. One of the first lawn ornaments he displayed was the iconic “Merry Christmas to All” lights featuring Santa and his reindeer. Purchased in 1957 for $300, these lights became a symbol of the festive spirit that encapsulated Graceland.
Additionally, the nativity scene on display today dates back to Elvis’s residency at Graceland. Starting with a small-scale version in the early 1960s, Elvis eventually opted for larger pieces, embodying his penchant for grandeur.
A Blue Christmas
When it came to Christmas lights, Elvis had a particular fondness for the color blue. Inspired by a house he saw in California, where the driveway was lined with blue lights, Presley decided to bring this enchanting sight to Graceland. The staff meticulously lines the driveway with blue lights, creating a mesmerizing pathway leading up to the estate.
Preserving Elvis’s grand vision, the lights wind through the pathways around Graceland, creating an ethereal ambiance reminiscent of the King’s fondness for all things Christmas.
The Legacy Lives On
Graceland’s commitment to preserving Elvis’s legacy extends beyond physical decor. This December, Elvis’s granddaughter, Riley Keough, produced Graceland’s very first Christmas special, “Christmas at Graceland,” streamed on Peacock. This live musical extravaganza featured renowned artists such as Kacey Musgraves and Lana Del Rey, performing from the heart of the estate. Marchese hopes that this special will be the first of many to come, continuing Elvis’s tradition of spreading joy and music during the holiday season.
A Timeless Tradition
While numerous films, books, and shows celebrate the life of Elvis Presley, the intimate Christmas traditions he held dear are carefully preserved within Graceland’s archives. The staff at Graceland works tirelessly to retell Elvis’s story exactly as he wanted it to be told, year after year. As visitors step into the enchanting world of Graceland at Christmas, they are transported back in time to experience the magic of Elvis’s holiday celebrations firsthand.
Graceland at Christmas is a testament to the enduring legacy of Elvis Presley. As visitors wander through the hallowed halls of this historic estate, they are immersed in the enchanting atmosphere of the King’s beloved holiday traditions. From the meticulously adorned Christmas tree to the iconic blue lights lining the pathways, Graceland faithfully preserves the magic of Elvis’s Christmas celebrations. With each passing year, Elvis’s spirit lives on, spreading joy, charity, and the timeless magic of Christmas to all who visit this legendary Memphis landmark.