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Bastille Day Festival
at Eastern State Penitentiary

Wigs are welcome at this day-long reenactment of the French Revolution

Bastille Day Festival at Eastern State Penitentiary

At the Bastille Day Festival, experience a cabaret and lively reenactment of the French Revolution in an hour-long spectacle of song, dance, and beheading. Credit: R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia


July 15, 2017


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 2nd 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.

The Festival

Fairmount Avenue and Eastern State Penitentiary are home to a festive Bastille Day block party.

The Bastille Day cabaret performance kicks off 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 Joan of Arc, Benjamin Franklin, Sojourner Truth and a gigantic French baguette.

This year’s performance will put a spin on issues like U.S. border control, healthcare and Vladimir Putin. Expect confetti cannons, stilt-walkers, a cardboard horse and a catwalk so long it divides the whole of Fairmount Avenue.

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. Afterward, visitors are invited to explore the Penitentiary for $10 ($8 online) per person.

More Information

For more information about the Bastille Day Festival, click the button below.

More about the Bastille Day Festival


2124 Fairmount Avenue
Eastern State Penitentiary
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 236-3300

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