MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Elvis Week returns to its grand stage at Graceland this week, bringing back traditional events adored by Presley's biggest fans.
The annual celebration of Elvis Presley's life and death runs from August 11th to 17th.
The 2020 celebration saw a much more scaled-down version of Elvis Week due to the pandemic. The 2021 event returns it to near normal, to the delight of Elvis' biggest fans.
“It was sad. There was not a lot of people but we enjoyed it. We just like to be here. The atmosphere," Lynn Hammontree from Georgia said about last year's event.
Hammontree said she comes to Elvis Week every year and is happy to be back once again.
“It’s sad just with everything we’ve been through," she said. "We need it.”
Cassie Dawson, made the trip from California. She too said she comes every year.
"This is like a family reunion almost," she said. "I’m going to get emotional. You come every year. You make family here. You want to come to see people."
Over the course of seven days, Elvis Week will include concerts, tribute artist performances, panel discussions, and a series of unique tours.
Angie Marchese, the Vice-President of Archives & Exhibits, said the excitement is high for fans this year. Many fans came into town earlier than usual and many of the small tours and events have sold out.
“All of these events have gotten so much hype and people are excited that they came to town early," she said. "And they’re doing a lot of other things besides Graceland. They’re going to Beale Street and they’re seeing other attractions here in town, so everyone is excited to be here in Memphis this week.”
While guests are strongly recommended to wear masks, they won't be required to. Graceland employees are required to mask up in indoor spaces.
Both fans said they feel safe with protocols in place as the Delta variant heightens in the Mid-South.
"I think people are pretty safe," Dawson said. "The ones we know, they are safe. I think there’s not going to be a problem just like last year, we didn’t have a problem.”
For the first time, Graceland offered fans virtual Elvis Week tickets. While the 2020 celebration was mostly virtual, Graceland said the content was pre-recorded.
This year, fans can tune into the entertainment from all over the world live while it's happening.
"We felt like this year it was important that not everyone can be here in Memphis this year, especially international fans," Marchese said. "They can participate in all of the activities, all the concerts, all the panel discussions. Everything just as if they were here in Memphis with us."
The candlelight vigil will be held on August 15th at 8:30 p.m. on the eve of the anniversary of Elvis' death.