Bastille Day Festival
at Eastern State Penitentiary
Wigs are welcome at this day-long reenactment of the French Revolution
July 16, 2016
Everything You Need To Know About The Bastille Day Festival
Philadelphia’s Bastille Day Festival is an epic celebration like no other. Get the lowdown on the block party, the reenactment, the raining down of Tastykakes and more with our official guide we created back in 2015 by clicking the button below.
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 22nd 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, pre-show entertainment starts at 2 p.m. with the French Family Carnival. Enjoy music, games and entertainment along Fairmount Avenue, including an inflatable obstacle course, a Tastykake-eating contest, water balloon toss, jumbo Jenga and Twister, face-painting and craft activities.
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 storm the grim walls of “the Bastille” (Eastern State Penitentiary), and prepare for cries of “Let them eat Tastykake!” as thousands of 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.
After the storming of the walls, the revolution spills into the charming neighborhood of Fairmount, as restaurants and bars host wonderful French-inspired dinner specials and al fresco 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).
For a comprehensive list of post-festival after-parties, click the button below.
For more information on what to expect at Bastille Day Festival, click the button below.
In the neighborhood
Museums & Attractions
Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 22nd Street Philadelphia, PA 19101
- Lemon Hill
- Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building
- Stone Age in America
- Eastern State Penitentiary
- Fairmount Art Center
- The Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps
- The Barnes Foundation
- Joan of Arc
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
- View more attractions
Restaurants & Dining