Young Thais are drawn by the big city lifestyle
So far this year, Denmark has gained plaudits for its world-beating restaurant (Noma), moody TV whodunits (The Killing) and a contemplative, Oscar-winning film (In a Better World).
How refreshing, then, to discover a textbook example of kitschy, down-home fun in this designer-clad land: Graceland Randers, a replica of Elvis Presley’s Memphis mansion (but double the size of the original, to avoid the disappointment some fans feel at the size of the real Graceland). It opened in mid-April in the unlikely location of a field in Randers (population 60,000), some 20 miles north of Denmark’s second city, Århus.
The man behind this bold tribute is superfan Henrik Knudsen, head of the Elvis fan club in Denmark. Knudsen’s personal collection formed the basis of the small Elvis Presley museum he ran in Randers’ town centre for 16 years, attracting 25,000 visitors annually. My favourite among his treasure trove is the rare photo of a star-struck young crown princess Margrethe (now Denmark’s queen) meeting Elvis in Hollywood in 1960.
Now Knudsen has spread his jumpsuited batwings and moved his collection to Graceland Randers. Alas, although the exterior mirrors the Memphis mansion, there’s no replica Jungle Room inside. Instead, alongside Knudsen’s memorabilia you’ll find an Elvis shop, American diner and mini movie theatre. The King living on in Denmark? It’s not the most likely spot but we'll take it, "thank-you-very-much".
Other Elvis oddities from around the world
In 2009, a cut-out silhouette of Elvis was unveiled in Friedberg, to commemorate the time Elvis spent in the city during his stint of military service. The monument drew criticism for its odd squatting shape, with some observers wondering if Elvis was missing a horse, or a toilet.
Leila’s Hair Museum, Missouri
A lock of Elvis’s hair is featured alongside that of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and hundreds of "hair art" exhibits at Leila’s Hair Museum – the star attraction of the Independence School of Cosmetology in Missouri, founded by retired beautician Leila Cohoon, and dedicated to all things hair and nails.
The Elvis Inn, Israel
A roadside café and gas station just outside Jerusalem, the Elvis Inn sells Presley memorabilia alongside shawarma kebabs and hummous. Four statues bearing a certain degree of resemblance to the man himself decorate the parking area, and Elvis postcards left by visitors line the walls of the café.
Carolyn Bain is currently researching the new edition of Lonely Planet’s Denmark guide.
This article was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Magazine.