Skip to main content

5 highlights from Paisley Park's Prince Celebration

Inside the fan experience at Minnesota's version of Graceland.

On the one-year anniversary of Prince’s untimely death, Paisley Park feels like the Minnesota equivalent of Graceland. Unlike last April, when fans were leaving mementos on the fence around the Chanhassen property while coming to terms with the Purple One's departure, this is a tightly structured process for paying respects.

In two shifts a day, fans from around the globe ride coach buses to the museum and shrine that was once Prince's studio, venue, and living space. They paid between $550 and $1,000, plus travel expenses – but for a weekend of what, exactly?

The value largely depends upon the level of purple obsession. Somewhere between a landlocked music cruise, a trade convention, and a music festival, Celebration 2017 is undeniably one-of-a-kind due to its location and amenities.

Thursday’s kickoff for the press – including representatives from the Twin Cities, as well as USA Today, Rolling Stone France, and others – had its moments. Here are five of them.

The urn and museum

Prince’s remains are housed in a Paisley Park-shaped urn in a sky-lit corridor featuring rooms of old outfits, instruments, and other memorabilia. (According to the New York Times, there are still thousands of pieces still waiting to be properly catalogued.) Unlike a headstone, you look up to acknowledge the Purple One. The urn is mounted about 15 feet up in a display case, which affords some security along with its unique presence.

The live music experience

Thursday’s music was billed as a surprise. Turns out, it was 75-year-old funk pioneer (and undeniable Prince inspiration) George Clinton – grinning and glimmering – joined by over a dozen bandmates, backing singers, and dancers in Paisley's enormous soundstage.

They played “Flashlight,” “One Nation Under a Groove,” “Atomic Dog,” and other funky hits. On tap for the rest of the weekend is Morris Day and the Time, NPG, 3rdEyeGirl, and the Revolution. While the tickets for seeing all of these acts outside of the hallowed Paisley would not add up to weekend's price, there's a big exclusivity factor at play.

The people

One of the spiritual guides for the weekend journey is Damaris Lewis, a former dancer for the New Power Generation.

She did her best to both give directions for tour groups (which were sorted by different lanyards) and sprinkle in some "keep it purple" talk about Prince's legacy. Instead of a moment of silence, she called for a standing ovation from the seated group gathered before her. More of Prince's extended family are taking part in various capacities on panels, and working the event, so the stories will continue unfolding.

As the weekend carries through, the connections forming between perhaps the greatest concentration of Prince's most-devoted admirers – many of whom have probably only met previously on Prince.org – is another perk.

The swag

It would not be an "ultimate fan experience" without a wealth of exclusive keepsakes. The press got the tote bag and the commemorative book, but all sorts of items are up for sale. Plus, the bottled water features a PP logo, and Thursday's buffet included a black rice dish that gave off a purple hue.

Prince himself

The tangibility of this part is debatable, depending on the participant's beliefs in the afterworld ("A world of never-ending happiness," etc.).

Aside from the urn and the costumes, Celebration helped reconstruct the departed Prince with a screening of some jaw-dropping concert footage in Amsterdam from 2014. The crowd in the room behaved like they were at an actual show. The 45-minute selection showcased his guitar work, his charisma, and a lengthy piano medley running through a handful of his many hits.

During set-closer "Purple Rain," he referred to his house, Paisley, as a place where everyone could "sing together, dine together, and love together."

And that's still true today. As long as they can afford it.

Next Up

FatalEaganCrashSceneAug18

Eagan man killed after crashing into traffic signal

The 30-year-old crashed into a traffic light early Wednesday morning.

Melvin Carter

What's in Mayor Melvin Carter's budget proposal?

Here's what the St. Paul mayor is putting his focus on for the upcoming year.

WCCO building

Digital, streaming employees at WCCO-TV vote to unionize

The 15 employees will join on-air talent and producers as members of the SAG-AFTRA union.

unnamed-3

Police arrest man suspected of sexual assault, weapons threat in Eagan

The investigation prompted a SWAT response in an Eagan neighborhood on Tuesday.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for the week ending Tuesday, August 16

The latest reporting period averaged just under 1,300 new cases per day.

USATSI_12923669

Jason and Carly Zucker sell Edina home for $4.18M

The property was bought in 2020, months after Jason Zucker was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Legacy Lot Random (1 of 6)

Gallery: Luxury living is par for the course here

Cragun’s Golf Resort Communities Offer Stunning Views Along with Resort-Style Living

Screen Shot 2022-08-18 at 8.10.56 AM

Restrictions in place as Emerald Ash Borer found in Sherburne County

The county is now the 36th in the state with a confirmed presence of the invasive insect.

Fire, firefighters

Home that was scene of June standoff engulfed in fire

Authorities arrived to find the home fully ablaze.

Rosland park bridge

Crosstown Hwy. 62 reopens as footage emerges of truck hitting bridge

The westbound lanes were closed in Edina from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday night.

Related

5 highlights from Paisley Park's Prince Celebration

Inside the fan experience at Minnesota's version of Graceland.

Paisley Park is already taking reservations for next year's Prince celebration

If you went to this year's Prince Celebration, you can already reserve your spot for 2018.

Paisley Park is already taking reservations for next year's Prince celebration

If you went to this year's Prince Celebration, you can already reserve your spot for 2018.

5 highlights from the Revolution at Paisley Park's Prince Celebration, Day 2

The Revolution made their Paisley Park debut and partied like it was...

5 highlights from the Revolution at Paisley Park's Prince Celebration, Day 2

The Revolution made their Paisley Park debut and partied like it was...

Prince's urn is a replica of Paisley Park – and was made in MN

The company that created a custom urn for Prince shared details of the design.

Prince's urn is a replica of Paisley Park – and was made in MN

The company that created a custom urn for Prince shared details of the design.

Paisley Park is showing rare footage from Prince's 21-show London run

The concert footage is from one of his 21 shows at 02 Arena in 2007.