The Mummers Parade 2015
Mummers strut down Broad Street, leaving behind a trail of glitter, feathers and fun
New Year’s Day, January 1, 2015
Parade Start: 10 a.m.
Fancy Brigade Finale: Noon-5 p.m.
Staging Area: JFK Boulevard between 16th and 22nd Streets
Main Performance: City Hall – 15th Street and JFK Boulevard
Parade: Enjoy continuous performances as the Mummers parade down Broad Street
Family Viewing Area: Creative and Performing Arts School – 901 S. Broad Street
Parade End: Broad Street and Washington Avenue
Where to Watch 9 Changing the route which traditionally started in South Philadelphia, the 115th annual Mummers Parade parade will begin at City Hall in 2015 with judging taking place at 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard. (Note: Tickets for the City Hall bleachers have sold out.) It then goes south on Broad Street to its end point at Washington Avenue. New this year, parade goers can watch the festivities from an enhanced viewing area at The Philadelphia High School for Creative & Performing Arts, featuring a DJ, food trucks and other amenities.
Once the Fancy Brigades finish the entire route—another new parade feature this year—they head to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for their performances.
For the first time, those who want a sneak peek of what’s to come can catch the Mummers doing last-minute practices as they line up on John F. Kennedy Boulevard between 16th and 22nd Streets before they head to the judging stand. Here, spectators can also meet the performers, get a close-up look at the spectacular costumes and even snap photos with the costumed marchers.
First things first: Spectators are encouraged to leave their cars behind and take public transportation into the city. Those who drive should park in a garage. One of the best places to view the spectacle is from the judging stands near City Hall, but tickets must be reserved in advance.
Tickets for Grand Stand seating at City Hall (15th & Market Streets) have sold out. Tickets to both Fancy Brigade Finales can be purchased for $20-$25 online at comcasttix.com in person at the Independence Visitor Center. (Note: Tickets for the 5 p.m. Fancy Brigade show are available online, but have sold out at the IVC.)
New Year’s Day is about celebrating, and there’s no better place to fete than at Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade.
During the festive, 115-year-old tradition, 10,000 men, women and children dressed in colorfully lavish costumes twirl, sashay, pirouette and strut down one of the city’s main streets.
For 2015, the Mummers are making some changes to the nation’s oldest folk parade. That means a shorter route on Broad Street, marching in a different direction (north to south starting at City Hall), judging at the start of the parade instead of at the end and performances that run the length of the route and not just in certain locations. Parade organizers are confident that these changes will make the unforgettably wild ritual even more fun, more family-friendly and more exciting for everyone.
While a carnival-like atmosphere welcomes anyone who decides to stop by at the last minute, this year in particular, a little advance preparation will help revelers get the best views of the spectacle. Better still, spending the night in the city ensures an early start to the day. Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package™ and not only will you be ready for an early wake-up, but your car stays FREE.
Mummers are men and women of all ages who belong to more than 40 organized clubs that make up the parade participants.
The clubs, split into five divisions—Comics, Wench Brigades, Fancies, String Bands and Fancy Brigades—function mainly to stage their playful performances on New Year’s Day. But Mummers do perform at other events throughout the year, and for many Philadelphia-area families, Mummery is a tradition that spans generations.
The day’s highlight is the parade itself, which this year begins at City Hall and marches south—the opposite of past parades—on Broad Street to Washington Avenue.
Each division knows its role: the Comics and Wench Brigades satirize issues, institutions and people; the Fancies impress with glamorous outfits that rival those of royalty; the String Bands gleefully play banjoes, saxophones, percussion and other reed and string instruments; and the Fancy Brigades produce tightly choreographed theatrical extravaganzas. But the noisy camaraderie shouldn’t fool the novice spectator, as each club is embroiled in a friendly yet fierce competition for local bragging rights.
After the revelry, there’s more work ahead for members of the Fancy Brigades. The groups put on two elaborate Broadway-style performances for ticket holders at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in the afternoon.
The parade begins in the morning at 10:00 a.m. and ends sometime before 6:00 p.m. The shorter route lends itself to denser crowds, so for sidewalk seating, fans should arrive early to claim their spots.
Fancy Brigades hold two ticketed competitions at the Pennsylvania Convention Center—the first at 12 noon and the second at 5 p.m.
Mummery traces its roots to ancient Roman laborers who ushered in the festival of Saturnalia by marching in masks while exchanging gifts and satirizing the issues of the day. In the 1600s, Swedish settlers to Philadelphia’s outskirts honored Christmas by beseeching their neighbors for dessert and liquor by dressing up, chanting and shooting firearms.
The party eventually migrated to New Year’s Day and evolved into a series of neighborhood parades; then, as immigrants moved to the area from Ireland and Italy, each group added their own cultural flair to the local customs. In 1901, the tradition began in earnest with the first recognized and judged Mummers Parade. The term “Mummer” is German and means “to costume or masquerade.”
Behind the Sequins
Go Behind the Sequins of the Philadelphia Mummers with our six-part web series chronicling the weeks of preparations, choreography, set building and costume-making for the annual Philadelphia Mummers Parade.
More Fun Stuff
Be sure to check out MY PHL for videos from last year’s parade, a history of the Mummers and more.