Bastille Day Festival
at Eastern State Penitentiary
Wigs are welcome at this day-long reenactment of the French Revolution
July 11, 2015
Performance: 5:30 p.m.
Grab a pitchfork and storm the walls! Whether you’re a revolutionary or a royalist, there’s something for you during the weekend celebration of all things French leading up to the bombastic Bastille Day Festival at the Eastern State Penitentiary.
The wild, annual festival — now in its 21st year – has become one of Philadelphia’s most popular summertime events, attracting thousands of visitors each year into the massive shadow of the penitentiary’s main wall to commemorate the storming of the Bastille by French revolutionaries.
Fairmount Avenue and Eastern State Penitentiary are home to a festive Bastille Day block party.
Prior to the main event in front of Eastern State Penitentiary, enjoy live entertainment from OOLALA starting at 2:30 p.m.
The centerpiece of the festival begins at 5:30 p.m. with an hour-long spectacle of song, dance and “beheading” featuring The Bearded Ladies Cabaret Show. The “historically accurate” reenactment of the storming of the Bastille features special appearances from Napoleon, Joan of Art, Benjamin Franklin and a gigantic French baguette.
Be there as dozens of French revolutionaries will storm the grim walls of “the Bastille” (Eastern State Penitentiary), capture Marie Antoinette (played by Terry McNally, co-owner of London Grill and Paris Wine Bar) drag her to a real, functioning guillotine. Prepare for cries of “Let them eat Tastykake!” as 3,000 Tastykakes are flung from the prison’s towers.
Street admission and sights of the show are both completely free. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for $40 per person and include seating, beer, refreshments and a front row view of the exciting performance.
For more information on what to expect at Bastille Day Festival, click the button below.
After the storming of the walls, the revolution spills into the charming neighborhood of Fairmount, as restaurants and bars host wonderful French dinner specials and alfresco celebrations throughout the evening.
The Penitentiary will reopen for rare twilight tours at a discounted admission price ($8 online in advance or $10 at the door).
Local restaurants, including London Grill, Paris Wine Bar and Rembrandt’s, will be offering a variety of French specials, discounts and themed events throughout the celebration.
For a comprehensive list of post-festival after-parties, click the button below.
Traveling to the Fairmount neighborhood is simple via walking, biking, public transit and taxi/Uber. Parking is fairly limited, and the block between Corinthian Avenue and 22nd Street will be blocked off for the all-day street fair, so driving is probably not the best option.
For travel by SEPTA, hop on the number 33, 48 or 2 bus heading north. Or hop on the Broad Street line, hop off at Fairmount and walk the six blocks west.
For more information on the Bastille Day Festival, click the button below.
In the neighborhood
Museums & Attractions
Sedgley Drive and Lemon Hill Drive
East Fairmount Park
Philadelphia, PA 19130
- Philadelphia CityPASS
- Eastern State Penitentiary Tour
- Stephen Girard Collection
- Fairmount Art Center
- Social Consciousness
- Washington Monument
- Rodin Museum
- Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building
- View more attractions
Restaurants & Dining