Bastille Day Festival at Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary celebrates with a day-long party
July 12, 2014
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 annual celebration 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.
The festival’s main event features dozens of French revolutionaries, armed with muskets and cannon, and singing “La Marseillaise,” storming the grim walls of “the Bastille” (Eastern State Penitentiary) and dragging Marie Antoinette to a real, functioning guillotine, built for the occasion. As Antoinette yells, “Let them eat Tastykake!”, a flurry of 2,000 Tastykakes will be flung from the prison’s towers.
The block party in front of the prison commences at 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
After the storming, the party spills into the charming neighborhood of Fairmount, as restaurants and bars host wonderful French dinner specials and alfresco celebrations throughout the evening.
The 11-acre Eastern State Penitentiary is also the site of art exhibits, theater performances and other special events. Come early and take a tour — or stay late and take a 25-minute evening tour following the reenactment.
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