Jun 16, 2010
Festivities include “Storming of the Bastille" at the walls of Eastern State Penitentiary as 2,000 Tastykakes are flung from the prison’s towers
Philadelphia, PA (June 16, 2010) The annual Fairmount Bastille Day Festival has become one of Philadelphias premier summer events, attracting thousands of visitors to the massive shadow of Eastern State Penitentiarys wall along Fairmount Avenue. This years celebration will take place on July 8-11, 2010 with a full weekend of activities.
The festivities begin on Thursday evening with the French Fling Bar Crawl, and continue on Friday evening with Fairmount Goes French movie screenings and dinner specials. Saturday brings the Bastille Day Festival to Fairmount Avenue featuring the storming of the grim walls of the Bastille, (Eastern State Penitentiary). The weekend culminates on Sunday with French Champagne Brunch at participating restaurants. More information on the activities and a full schedule of events can be found at http://www.easternstate.org/visit/upcoming-events.
Bastille Day Festival and Storming of the Bastille
The Bastille Day Festival on Saturday, July 10 will begin at 2 p.m. in front of Eastern State Penitentiary at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue. In addition to kids craft activities, the event will feature the Fairmount Pet Shoppe Pet Parade at 2 p.m., Career Wardrobes French Fashion Show at 2:30 p.m., and the Tricycle Tour de France with prizes for best French decorated bikes at 3 p.m. Special tents will include a How Do I Say it in French? tent from LEcole Francaise, DiBruno Bros. French Cheese Tips, Fairmount Art Center Arts & Crafts and French travel, language, recipe and history books from Fairmounts Book Haven. There will be live music entertainment from Musette.
Guests can also enjoy French fare from neighborhood restaurants, including London Grill, The Belgian Cafe, Bishops Collar, Bridgids Bar & Restaurant, Jacks Firehouse, Luigis Pizza Fresca, Mugshots Coffeehouse, Rembrandts, Trio, and Urban Saloon. Menu items will include crepes, baguette sandwiches, pain au chocolat, croissants, French pastry, Kronenbourg 1664 Beer, French wine and champagne specials.
The Street Festival will reach its climax at 5:30 p.m., when dozens of French revolutionaries, armed with muskets and cannon, singing La Marseillaise, will storm the grim walls of the Bastille (Eastern State Penitentiary, which has an historic connection to the French Bastille). They will capture Marie Antoinette (portrayed by Terry McNally, co-owner of London Grill) and, ignoring her mocking cries of Let them eat Tastykake! drag her to a real, functioning guillotine, built for the occasion as 2,000 Tastykakes are flung from the prisons towers.
The Bastille Day Festival is free and open to the public. Visitors are encouraged to dress as French peasants or royalty.
The celebration includes tours of Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site (standard admission rates) between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The penitentiary will stay open for special Twilight Tours from 6:30 p.m. 8 p.m. Meant to be a quick introduction to the penitentiary and its history, these abbreviated tours last 20 minutes and are available for $10 (adults) and $5 (seniors, students, and kids ages 7-12).
The festival continues into the night with After Parties throughout the neighborhood of Fairmount. Area restaurants and businesses celebrate the storming with revolutionary-themed food and drink specials.
Fairmount French Fling Bar Crawl
The Fairmount French Fling Bar Crawl kicks off the weekend on Thursday, July 8th at 7 p.m. with Kronenbourg 1664 Beer Specials at local bars and restaurants. The participating restaurants are The Belgian Café, Bishops Collar, Bridgids Bar & Restaurant, Jacks Firehouse, London Grill, Rembrandts Restaurant, and Urban Saloon. For every patron who purchases a Kronenbourg, they will receive a French pick-up line pin.
Fairmount Goes French Friday
Fairmount restaurants and bars will offer French menu items and beer specials on Friday, July 9th. London Grill will feature a French Trivia Wheel with the chance to win dinners for two, bottles of wine, and more great prizes. The evening will also feature French-themed movie screenings from the Friends of Eastern State Penitentiary. This years films, shown on the lawn behind Eastern State Penitentiary, will be Pepe Le Pew Cartoons at 8:00 p.m. and The Hunchback of Notre Dame at 8:30 p.m.
French Champagne Brunch
The weekend concludes on Sunday, July 11th with a French Champagne Brunch at participating Fairmount restaurants. Specials include crepes and beignets as well as traditional Sunday Brunch specials and Make Your Own Bloody Mary Bar at London Grill.
Bastille Day History
On July 14, 1789, revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, a prison that represented the absolute power of Louis XVI, marking the beginning of the French Revolution. Bastille Day is currently a French national holiday that is celebrated in grand style every year. It commemorates the birth of the Republic and symbolizes the beginning of a new form of government in France.
Bastille Day Event Participants
Beehive Hair Salon, The Belgian Café, Bishops Collar, Bookhaven, Career Wardrobe, DiBruno Brothers, Eastern State Penitentiary, Fairmount Arts Center, Fairmount Pet Shoppe, Friends of Eastern State Penitentiary Park, The Inquirer & Daily News, Jack's Firehouse, Kronenbourg 1664, LEcole Francaise, Liberti Church, LifeSport, London Grill, Luigis Pizza Fresca, Mugshots CoffeeHouse & Cafe, Olde Fort Mifflin Historical Society, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Rembrandts, Trio, Urban Saloon, and Votre Vu Skincare.
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the worlds first true penitentiary, a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of Americas most notorious criminals, including bank robber Slick Willie Sutton and Al Capone.
Tours today include the cellblocks, solitary punishment cells, Al Capones Cell, and Death Row. A critically-acclaimed series of artists installations is free with admission. Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for students and children ages 7-12 (not recommended for children under the age of seven). The penitentiary is open every day, year round. From April 1 to November 30, admission includes the Voices of Eastern State audio tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi. Also included in admission are special guided tours on the subjects of daily life, escapes, architecture, and prison inside a prison. For more information and schedules, please call (215) 236-3300 or visit www.easternstate.org.