Events

Monday, July 4, 2016 (All day)

Independence Day

Standard Admission

Eastern State Penitentiary is open from 10 am until 5 pm and is located just a few blocks from the Ben Franklin Parkway, site of the some of the best fireworks in the nation! So tour Eastern State, have dinner at one of the great neighborhood restaurants, and stay for the fireworks! Happy Independence Day!

Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Annie Anderson & Sean Kelley: Development of Nation’s First Museum Exhibit on Mass Incarceration

Free. Reception to follow.

Eastern State staff members Annie Anderson and Sean Kelley will discuss their work creating Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration, including both successes and failures in the process. Three years in the making, the exhibit challenges visitors to reexamine the role and effectiveness of prisons in America, while building empathy for those impacted.

Annie Anderson is the Senior Specialist for Research and Public Programming at Eastern State. She oversaw exhibit research and prototyping. Sean Kelley is Senior Vice President and Director of Interpretation. He led the exhibit development team.

Presentation followed by informal tour of Prisons Today.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required.

Saturday, July 16, 2016 - 5:30pm

Bastille Day

Cabaret and Reenactment: Free
ESP Tours, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm: Standard Admission
ESP Tours, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm: $8 online; $10 at the door

One of Philadelphia’s most popular summertime events! Eastern State Penitentiary teams with The Bearded Ladies cabaret group to present one of Philadelphia’s largest free theatrical performances, which culminates with a playful reenactment of the Storming of the Bastille (influenced more by Monty Python than the actual French Revolution).

The performance takes place on Fairmount Avenue at 5:30 pm, free and open to the public. For those interested in a better (French Bourgeoisie) view, exclusive VIP seating is available for a donation fee. VIP tickets include seating, beer and refreshments, heckling from the lower classes, and revolution goodie bags. Tickets are available online.

Following the performance, many wonderful restaurants surrounding the penitentiary come alive with French-themed entertainment as well as food and drink specials.

Come early and take a tour of Eastern State (standard admission), or stay late and take a twilight tour following the reenactment ($8 online, or $10 at the door).

More information is available on our website.

Saturday, July 30, 2016 - 5:30pm - 8:00pm

ESP Insider: Hospital Block Behind-the-Scenes Hardhat Tour

Members only

Members will explore the currently closed Hospital Block and learn more about healthcare at Eastern State and the preservation that will allow ESP to open the corridor to the public.

Light refreshments and conversation after the 30 minute tour.

Space is limited. Members will receive an email with reservation details.

Note: This is a members-only event. Click here to join today!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

The Searchlight Series: August 2016

Free. Reception to follow.

Discussion topic TBD.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

The Searchlight Series: Caleb Smith

Free. Reception to follow.

Discussion topic TBD.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required.

Friday, September 9, 2016 - 8:00pm

Secret Cinema

Film Title TBD
General Admission: $10

The Secret Cinema will project a prison-themed film, title TBD. Doors open at 7:00 pm. Seats are limited. Tickets are available online or at the door, subject to availability.

Saturday, September 10, 2016 - 7:00am - 10:00am

ESP Insider: Members’ Photography Morning

Members only

Members photograph part of the penitentiary in the early morning light before the site opens. Enjoy light refreshments and conversation after the photo shoot.

Space is limited. Members will receive an email with reservation details.

Note: This is a members-only event. Click here to join today!

Saturday, September 10, 2016 - 10:00am - 4:00pm

Campus Philly’s CollegeFest

Free. Participating college students only.

CollegeFest is the city’s all-day welcome for new and returning college students. During CollegeFest, museums across the city open their doors and provide free admission to college students. For more information, visit http://campusphilly.org/collegefest/

Friday, September 16, 2016 - 7:00pm - Saturday, November 5, 2016 - 7:00pm

Terror Behind the Walls

Select Nights
Tickets starting at $13

Terror Behind the Walls, America’s largest haunted house, is called “perfect for Halloween” by The New York Times, named #1 in the nation by Forbes, and featured on NBC’s TODAY Show. Terror Behind the Walls takes place inside the massive, castle-like walls of Eastern State Penitentiary and is consistently ranked among the top haunted attractions in America.

All proceeds from Terror Behind the Walls benefit the preservation of Eastern State Penitentiary, a National Historic Landmark. Terror Behind the Walls does not affect operation of the historic site, which remains open for tours every day from 10 am to 5 pm.

For FAQs, preview videos, and tickets, visit terrorbehindthewalls.com

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman: Last Day of Freedom

Free. Reception to follow.

An award-winning animated short film telling the story of Bill Babbit's decision to stand by his brother in the face of war, crime and, eventually, capital punishment. (32 minutes followed by Q&A with the filmmakers)

Dee Hibbert-Jones & Nomi Talisman are artists/filmmakers who bring to life larger issues of criminal justice and civic responsibility. Their work blends animation and documentary forms to move beyond dehumanizing statistics, striving for empathy and critical reflection.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

The Searchlight Series: November 2016

Free. Reception to follow.

Discussion topic TBD.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required.

Saturday, November 19, 2016 (All day) - Sunday, November 20, 2016 (All day)

Members' Photo Contest

Standard Admission

Eastern State is one of the most photogenic locations in America. Each year photographers travel from all across the globe to photograph the penitentiary.

Each member may submit one color and one black and white Eastern State Penitentiary photograph for the annual Members’ Photo Contest. Photos remain on view throughout the weekend. Visitors to the historic site can cast votes for their favorite images throughout the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon at 4:00 pm, two sets of winners are announced in the color and black and white categories. A guest curator selects one set of winners, and the results of the weekend’s voting are also announced. Each first place winner from the Members' Photo Contest has the opportunity to schedule a four-hour, private, behind-the-scenes photo shoot of Eastern State Penitentiary.

Photo contest guidelines will be posted in September.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

The Searchlight Series: December 2016

Free. Reception to follow.

Discussion topic TBD.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required.