Philly is one of the best places to celebrate Bastille Day. The wild, annual festival held at the towering, gothic Eastern State Penitentiary has become one of the most popular summertime events in the city. A block party takes over Fairmount Avenue, with a French Family Carnival featuring music, games, and entertainment like an inflatable obstacle course, a Tastykake-eating contest, water balloon toss, face-painting, and crafts. At 5:30 p.m. the centerpiece of the festival begins—a reenactment of the storming of the Bastille. The Bearded Ladies Cabaret lead the show, which is an hour-long spectacle of song, dance, and “beheading.” Special appearances from Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Benjamin Franklin, and a huge French baguette herald in the raining down of thousands of Tastykakes from the “Bastille” wall.
After the festival, the revolution spills into Fairmount. Restaurants and bars in the area host French-inspired dinner specials and al fresco celebrations. The Penitentiary will also reopen for rare twilight hours with discounted admission.
2:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Avenue