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Bastille Day

July 15, 2017, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Bastille Day

23rd Annual Bastille Day Festival
at Eastern State Penitentiary

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

What to Expect

Bastille Day is BACK! Here's what to expect for 2017. 

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. This "completely historically accurate" reenactment of the storming of the Bastille will be emceed by the voice of Paris herself, Edith Piaf, and will include appearances by Joan of Arc, Benjamin Franklin, Sojourner Truth, and a six-foot French Baguette.

This year's performance will tackle U.S. border control, the death of healthcare, and Vladimir Putin. Expect confetti cannons, stilt walkers, a cardboard horse, and a catwalk so long it divides the whole of Fairmount Avenue.

This FREE theatrical performance will begin at 5:30 pm and will culminate in a playful reenactment of the storming of the Bastille. French revolutionaries will storm the grim walls of “the Bastille” (Eastern State Penitentiary), will capture Marie Antoinette (portrayed by Terry McNally, co-owner of London Grill and Paris Wine Bar) and, ignoring her mocking cries of “Let them eat Tastykake!” will drag her to a real, functioning guillotine as 2,000 Tastykakes are flung from the prison’s towers.

The performance will take place on Fairmount Avenue, free and open to the public. For those interested in a better (French Bourgeoisie) view, exclusive VIP seating is available. VIP tickets include reserved seating, beer and refreshments, heckling from the lower classes, and revolution goodie bags. Click here to purchase VIP tickets.

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).

Whether you’re a revolutionary or an aristocrat, there’s something for you in this celebration of all things French!

Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!

Schedule of Events

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

2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner