Bastille Day Festival at Eastern State Penitentiary

JUL 14, 2018

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

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Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia
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Whether a revolutionary or a royalist, visitors will find there’s no shortage of fun during the weekend celebration of all things French leading up to the bombastic Bastille Day Festival at Eastern State Penitentiary.

The wild, annual festival has become one of Philadelphia’s most popular summertime events.

Each year, the event attracts thousands of visitors into the massive shadow of the penitentiary’s main wall to commemorate the storming of the Bastille by French revolutionaries — through an hour-long cabaret performance of song and dance.

The Experience

The wild, annual festival has become one of the city’s most popular summertime events.

Each summer, Fairmount Avenue and Eastern State Penitentiary are home to the highly entertaining Bastille Day Festival. Expect confetti cannons, stilt-walkers, a cardboard horse and a catwalk so long it divides the whole of Fairmount Avenue at this festive (and FREE) block party.

The highlight of the day is the Bastille Day cabaret performance, 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 puts a spin on relevant and timely social issues, and in past years has featured special appearances from Joan of Arc, Benjamin Franklin, Sojourner Truth and a gigantic French baguette.

Guests can watch 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.

Don’t Miss

Following the performance, local Fairmount restaurants offer French-themed entertainment as well as food and drink specials, and visitors are invited to explore Eastern State Penitentiary at a discounted admission price.

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

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