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Special Event Highlights 2017

Special Event Highlights 2017

March 27, 2017

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site hosts many special events throughout the year. 2017 highlights are outlined below. For a full schedule, visit

The Searchlight Series
First Tuesday of Every Month, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.


Eastern State Penitentiary partners with nationally recognized penologists and educators to present an ongoing discussion series about crime, justice, and the American prison system.

Alumni Reunion
Saturday, April 29, 11:30 a.m.

Standard Admission

Some of Eastern State's alumni—former officers and inmates—return to the cellblocks to share their memories with the public.

Reception for the 2017 Season
Friday, May 5, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.


Visitors can meet the 2017 artists, see their installations, and preview the newly restored Hospital Block. Light refreshments served.

Prison Food Weekend: Nutraloaf from around the U.S.
Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Standard Admission

Eastern State Penitentiary brings back its popular Prison Food Weekend focusing on Nutraloaf, the “food product” issued as punishment in many American prisons. Visitors will sample Nutraloaf created using the official recipes from five U.S. states. They can then record their thoughts on a tasting card and decide for themselves whether serving Nutraloaf is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

Bastille Day
Saturday, July 15, 5:30 p.m.
Cabaret and Reenactment: Free
ESP Tours 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.: Standard Admission
ESP Tours 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.: $8 online; $10 at the door

Eastern State Penitentiary teams up 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 as 2,000 Tastykakes fly from the prison’s towers.

Family Weekend: Pets in Prison with New Leash on Life USA
Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Standard Admission

Families will discover unique stories about animals all weekend long! Kids will learn more about Eastern State Penitentiary’s most famous four-legged resident, Pep the Dog; participate in an animal-themed activity; and find out how animals continue to play a role in prisons today.

Terror Behind the Walls
Select Nights, September 22 through November 11
Separate Admission

A massive haunted house in a real prison! Called “perfect for Halloween” by The New York Times, named #1 in the nation by Forbes, and featured on NBC’s TODAY Show. All proceeds benefit historic preservation at this National Historic Landmark.


2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner