The Mummers Parade 2019
New Year’s Day is about celebrating, and there’s no better place to fete than at Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade.
During the festive, nearly 120-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.
10,000 men, women and children twirl, sashay, pirouette and strut down Broad Street.
The Mummers Parade begins at City Hall and continues south to Washington Avenue. While the performers will put on a show throughout the entire shindig, three special performance areas will be designated across Broad Street.
Once the Fancy Brigades finish the entire route, they head to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the Mummers Fancy Brigades Finale performances.
The parade begins in the morning at 9 a.m. and ends sometime before 6 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 11:30 a.m. and the second at 5 p.m.
The day’s highlight is the parade itself, which begins at City Hall and marches south 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.
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.
Tickets: Outdoor Parade Seating
One of the best places to view the spectacle is from the Parade Grandstand (the judging stands near City Hall), but tickets must be reserved in advance.
Tickets for Parade Grandstand can be purchased at the Independence Visitor Center at 6th and Market or at Fairmount Park Welcome Center, 16th & JFK Boulevard. (Tickets aren’t required elsewhere outdoors.)
Tickets: Indoor Shows at Convention Center
There are two Fancy Brigade Shows on New Years Day at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The Fancy Brigade Family Show begins at 11:30 a.m. The Fancy Brigade Finale performance begins at 5 p.m.
Tickets for both Fancy Brigade shows are available for purchase at the Independence Visitor Center located at 6th and Market Streets and online at comcasttix.com.
Tickets can also be purchased at the Independence Visitor Center or online for MummerFest, a four-day (December 28-31) interactive festival for families at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
MummerFest invites those of all ages to try on Mummers costumes, watch the clubs rehearse their routines, partake in crafting and more.
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 categories — Comics, Wench Brigades, Fancies, String Bands and the 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.
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. Click the button below for more.
Behind the Sequins
For more information about The Mummers Parade, click the button below.
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