Graceland Dropping Candlelight Vigil Charge, Making Other Changes

Special to The Daily News

Graceland has announced it will drop a admission fee for the candlelight vigil that caps Elvis Week. During the vigils, fans holding candles walk through the gates of Graceland and up the driveway of Elvis Presley’s estate to pay their respects at his gravesite. (Daily News file/Houston Cofield)

Graceland is dropping a controversial admission fee for the Aug. 15 candlelight vigil that caps Elvis Week.

The charge was instituted in 2017, when the vigil marking the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death drew an estimated crowd of more than 30,000, and continued this year.

Originally billed as a safety measure, it started a year after Black Lives Matter protesters picketed during the 2016 candlelight vigil and were kept away from Elvis fans by police and security. The Graceland protest was part of a larger series of demonstrations that Memphis police took steps to monitor, leading to a civil liberties lawsuit that played out in federal court in August.

During the vigils, fans holding candles walk through the gates of Graceland and up the driveway of Presley’s estate to pay their respects at his gravesite.

In 2017 and 2018, vigil goers had to have a Graceland property pass, which came with the purchase of any ticket. The lowest-priced option was a one-day, $28.75 wristband that also gave access to other activities.

Elvis Presley Enterprises said Wednesday on its website that the free vigil was among changes planned for Elvis Week Aug. 9-17, 2019.

“There will be no charges or special passes associated with the Candlelight Vigil. We invite everyone to come to Graceland and join the procession up to Meditation Garden on this special evening (8/15/19) to honor Elvis.”

Other changes include a new, $28.75 TCB Pass, good for full-week admission to Elvis Presley’s Memphis exhibits, shops and restaurants, free parking after 5 p.m. and seating in a new music pavilion on a first-come, first-served basis.

Graceland spokeswoman Ashleigh Gallant said the TCB Pass will provide “incomparable value” to Elvis Week visitors, especially those coming for multiple days.

The music pavilion is part of an 80,000-square-foot indoor, air-conditioned exhibition hall that is scheduled to open in late spring or early summer.

Graceland also said it’s extending an early-booking special for rooms at The Guest House at Graceland.