When visitors pass the purple velvet rope at the entrance to Paisley Park, one of the first things they see is a massive mural of Prince’s eyes.
“He is always watching,” the tour guide says.
Down the hall, the guide stops at a small purple urn with some of Prince’s ashes and invites the group to take a moment to pay their respects. In the lofted space above, Prince’s two pet doves, Majesty and Divinity, coo from inside their cage.
For Prince fans, it’s pretty intense. But any visitor or music fan will be moved by the artistry, talent, ego, and music history on display at Paisley Park—the Chanhassen, Minnesota home, museum, recording studio and performance venue where Prince lived and died unexpectedly in April 2016.
Inside Paisley Park. Photo courtesy of Leslie Anderson.
Located 20 minutes outside Minneapolis, Paisley Park (officialpaisleypark.com) is the main attraction of the Prince-related tours that have sprung up this past year. Fans make the pilgrimage to celebrate his life and music, visiting not only Paisley Park, but places around town like the house where the movie Purple Rain was filmed, clubs frequented by Prince, and even the hospital where he was born.
Organized Prince tours sell out weeks in advance, including a bus tour by Waconiaville Tours (waconiavilletours.com), and a behind-the-scenes tour of First Avenue & 7th Street Entry, the club where Prince regularly played and recorded the album version of “Purple Rain” (first-avenue.com).
Inside First Avenue & 7th Street Entry, where Prince frequently performed. Photo courtesy of Bill Deef, Meet Minneapolis.
April is going to be a busy month at Paisley Park, as people from around the world come to Minneapolis to take part in tributes marking the one-year anniversary of Prince’s death. Paisley Park visitors will experience Prince4Ever, where they’ll get to hear and see exclusive audio and visuals, and be filmed for a candlelight tribute video. A new fence will be put up around the property so fans can leave memorials.
That’s in addition to the four-day Celebration 2017 (officialpaisleypark.com) held across Minneapolis, with guest stars, concerts, panel discussions, films and more.
Whenever you go, Paisley Park is a must-see for fans. Buy tickets as far in advance as possible, because they’re in limited supply until the museum operators (the same company that manages Elvis Presley’s Graceland) iron out issues related to parking and neighborhood traffic.
Inside Paisley Park. Photo courtesy of Meet Minneapolis.
The building’s exterior is plain, white and boxy, but the inside is colorful and includes many shades of purple. Visitors see photos and murals of Prince’s face, spiritual-theme art and a growing collection of artifacts including Prince's cars, awards and instruments. The tours are expanding to add fan-friendly features such as Paisley Park After Dark dance parties on Friday and Saturday nights.
The exterior of Paisley Park in Chanhassen. Photo courtesy of Meet Minneapolis.
Tour highlights include a Purple Rain room, where purple lights make it look like rain is cascading down the walls and music videos from the Grammy Award-winning 1984 movie soundtrack play on video screens. Memorabilia—such as the iconic white puffy shirt and purple suit Prince wore in the film—are on display.
Hardcore fans should splurge for the VIP tour, which is 30 minutes longer and goes into additional areas including Prince's video editing room, meditation room, and state-of-the-art recording studios. VIPs get cool experiences, too, like recording vocals over a Prince song, having Sunday brunch in his NPG music club, or listening to a clip of a jazz album he was working on at the time of his death.
Tours end with a moving broadcast of Prince’s famous rain-drenched 2007 Super Bowl halftime show alongside a re-creation of the memorial-covered fence that surrounded Paisley Park after his death.
Prince's star outside First Avenue & 7th Street Avenue shortly after he died. The star is now the only gold star amongst the silver stars. Photo courtesy of Explore Minnesota.
Visitors exit through a gift shop and an order-at-the-counter restaurant where chefs prepare and serve some of Prince’s favorite foods. The meatless menu (Prince was a famous vegan) includes pancakes, smoothies, and coconut curry with black rice and chickpeas.
Paisley Park sits along a suburban road with fast-food restaurants and big-box stores. It doesn’t quite seem like a place where a rock star would live. But as Minnesota’s governor explained, “Prince never left Minnesota, and Minnesota never left him.”
A Prince mural in Chanhassen. Photo courtesy of Explore Minnesota.
Paisley Park tours cost $38.50 for general admission, and $100 for VIP tours. Tours are held Thursday through Sunday each week. Tickets to Paisley Park After Dark, from 9-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, are $60 (officialpaisleypark.com).