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Bastille Day

23rd Annual Bastille Day Festival
at Eastern State Penitentiary
Saturday, July 15, 2017

This performance will put a song on your lips, bread in your hands, and a little revolutionary swagger in your step!

  • What to Expect

    Eastern State Penitentiary is teaming up with The Bearded Ladies, an experimental cabaret troupe, to present the entire French Revolution in an hour-long spectacle of song, dance, and raining Tastykakes for the penitentiary’s annual Bastille Day festival, to be held Saturday, July 15, 2017. Continuing with the annual theme of oppression and revolution then and now, the Bearded Ladies will connect past and present with a topical commentary on our political climate today. Guests can expect a show that is, as the Beards say, “both intellectual and accessible, entertaining and meaningful, stupid good and just plain stupid.”

    This playful reenactment of the storming of Bastille will be emceed by the voice of Paris herself, Edith Piaf (portrayed by John Jarboe, Artistic Director of The Bearded Ladies), and will include appearances by Joan of Arc, Benjamin Franklin, Vladimir Putin, and a six-foot-tall French Baguette. The script will touch on Philly public school education, the American Healthcare Act, racial injustice, alternative facts, the travel ban, and the border wall.

    This FREE performance will begin at 5:30 p.m. in front of Eastern State Penitentiary on Fairmount Avenue, and will culminate in a reenactment of the storming of the Bastille. French revolutionaries will storm the grim walls of “the Bastille” (Eastern State Penitentiary) and capture Marie Antoinette (portrayed by Terry McNally, co-owner of London Grill and Paris Wine Bar). The show will reach its climax as Marie mockingly cries, “Let them eat Tastykake!” and more than 2,000 Butterscotch Krimpets are flung from the prison’s towers onto attendees below. 

    The performance will take place on Fairmount Avenue, free and open to the public. Following the performance, local Fairmount restaurants will come alive with French-themed entertainment as well as food and drink specials, and the penitentiary will reopen for rare twilight tours at a discounted admission price ($8 online or $10 at the door).

    Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!

  • VIP Seating

    For those interested in a better (French Bourgeoisie) view, exclusive VIP seating is available. VIP tickets include reserved seating, Kronenbourg 1664 and other refreshments, heckling from the lower classes, and revolution goodie bags. Click here to purchase VIP tickets. VIP seating is now SOLD OUT.

  • Schedule of Events

    10 am to 5 pm: Tour Eastern State Penitentiary. Standard Admission. Last entry 4 pm.

    2 to 5 pm: French Family Carnival, presented by Univest Bank. FREE!
    Enjoy music, games, and entertainment on Fairmount Avenue, including an inflatable slide, cornhole, Tastykake eating contest, water balloon toss, jumbo Jenga and Twister, face painting, and arts & crafts. All activities are free. No reservations required. 

    5:30 pm: Bastille Day cabaret performance. FREE!

    6:30 to 8:30 pm: Explore Eastern State Penitentiary after-hours. Admission is $8 online, or $10 at the door.

    Starting 6:30 pm: French-themed food and drink specials at select Fairmount restaurants.

  • After Parties

    After the performance, visit one of these restaurants for French-themed food & drink specials!

    Urban Saloon
    London Grill
    Bishop's Collar
    Fairmount and Co
    St. Stephen's Green
    The Belgian Cafe

  • Thanks to Our Sponsors

    Bastille Day is produced by Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, written and performed by Bearded Ladies Cabaret, and sponsored by Tastykake, Kronenbourg 1664, and Univest Bank.

2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner