Events

Saturday, July 4, 2015 (All day)

Independence Day

Standard Admission

Eastern State Penitentiary is open from 10 am until 5 pm and is located just three 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 GPTMC

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Jennifer Storm: Protecting Victims' Rights

Free. Reception to follow.

The rights of crime victims are sometimes overlooked in our criminal justice system. What is their role? How has that role been changing? What challenges face these families who, after all, have been pulled into the legal system by the violent or unlawful actions of others?

Jennifer Storm is Commonwealth Victim Advocate. She represents the rights and interests of crime victims generally throughout the Commonwealth and specifically regarding post-sentencing rights before the Board of Probation and Parole, Department of Corrections. Her office oversees notification to crime victims of the potential for inmate release and provides input to the board regarding all paroling decisions.

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.

The Searchlight Series is supported in part by a grant from The George W. Rentschler Foundation.

Saturday, July 11, 2015 - 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.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 5:30pm - 8:00pm

Photographers' Twilight Hours (2 of 3)

General Admission: $20
ESP Members: Free

Photographers have Eastern State Penitentiary to themselves in the beautiful dusk light. Tripods, models, and handheld lighting equipment are all welcome during these hours. $20 admission for any person entering.

Tickets are available online or at the door, subject to availability.

Please review our photography policies before attending Photographers' Twilight Hours.

Photo: 2014 Members' Photo Contest Winner Cheryl Kozak, “Distraction from Confinement”

Tuesday, August 4, 2015 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Bruce Herdman: Why Prison Healthcare Is Better Than What We Get In Our Communities

Free. Reception to follow.

Dr. Bruce Herdman is responsible for the medical treatment of more than 8,000 inmates living daily in the Philadelphia Prison System. He will speak about the challenges of caring for a population that enters prisons sick with chronic medical conditions, drug addiction and mental health issues. As the Philadelphia Prison System’s first Chief of Medical Operations, over the past eight years he has improved the inmates’ overall health while keeping cost increases at a minimum.

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.

The Searchlight Series is supported in part by a grant from The George W. Rentschler Foundation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 - 5:30pm - 8:00pm

Photographers' Twilight Hours (3 of 3)

General Admission: $20
ESP Members: Free

Photographers have Eastern State Penitentiary to themselves in the beautiful dusk light. Tripods, models, and handheld lighting equipment are all welcome during these hours. $20 admission for any person entering.

Tickets are available online or at the door, subject to availability.

Please review our photography policies before attending Photographers' Twilight Hours.

Photo: 2014 Members' Photo Contest Winner Cheryl Kozak, “Distraction from Confinement”

Tuesday, September 1, 2015 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

The Searchlight Series: September 2015

Free. Reception to follow.

Discussion Topic TBA.

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.

The Searchlight Series is supported in part by a grant from The George W. Rentschler Foundation.

Friday, September 11, 2015 - 8:00pm

Secret Cinema

Movie 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.

Friday, September 18, 2015 - 7:00pm - Saturday, November 7, 2015 - 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

Sunday, September 20, 2015 - 10:00am - Thursday, September 24, 2015 - 8:00pm

Extended Museum Hours and Special Access to Catholic Chaplain’s Murals

Standard Admission

In celebration of the World Meeting of Families, Eastern State Penitentiary opens its massive front gates for extended hours and special programs, September 20-24. In addition to learning about Eastern State’s religious roots and its worldwide influence on corrections, visitors will have unlimited access to the newly restored murals of the Catholic Chaplain’s Office.

Inmate Lester Smith painted the murals in 1955 and used the signature “Paul Martin” to honor his two favorite saints. Smith was a self-taught artist who had converted to Catholicism in prison. When Father Edwin Gallagher, the penitentiary’s Catholic Chaplain (1952-1958), witnessed Smith painting in his cell, he invited the inmate to decorate the offices where he met with and counseled inmates. These remarkable and extremely fragile paintings, recently unveiled following a painstaking restoration, remain a testament to the story of one inmate who underwent a powerful change through his Catholic faith.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

The Searchlight Series: October 2015

Free. Reception to follow.

Discussion Topic TBA.

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.

The Searchlight Series is supported in part by a grant from The George W. Rentschler Foundation.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

The Searchlight Series: November 2015

Free. Reception to follow.

Discussion Topic TBA.

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.

The Searchlight Series is supported in part by a grant from The George W. Rentschler Foundation.

Saturday, November 14, 2015 (All day) - Sunday, November 15, 2015 (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.

Click here to download the Photo Contest Guidelines.

Photo: 2014 winner Jacqueline Gaines, “Light Fixture”

Thursday, November 26, 2015 (All day)

Closed for Thanksgiving

Eastern State Penitentiary is closed on Thursday, November 26. The site reopens Friday, November 27 at 10:00 am.

Photo: collection of Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, gift of the family of Howard H. Haines, Captain of the Guards.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 (All day)

#GivingTuesday

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

Following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, celebrate #GivingTuesday by making a charitable donation, tweeting or posting about your passion, and asking your friends and family to join you in supporting the penitentiary! Be sure to use #GivingTuesday.

Click here to make a donation to Eastern State Penitentiary.