Philly foodies have some of the most active social calendars around — and that’s probably because there’s something pretty exciting happening in the city every week. In this series, we take a look at the most intriguing food event going down, and bring you behind the scenes.
Every July for the past 18 years, the restaurants and residents of Fairmount have come together for the Storming of the Bastille, a reenactment of sorts that has become one of Eastern State Penitentiary’s most lauded community events.
Organizers have billed it as the largest, free theatrical performance in Philadelphia. And a new partnership with cabaret troupe, The Bearded Ladies has taken this party to a whole new level, recreating the entire French Revolution in just two hours.
Terry McNally of London Grill and Paris Wine Bar has played Marie Antoinette every year. She started this funky tradition with a friend nearly two decades ago. The idea came to them over a few drinks on a hot summer night. A few more drinks, and they were “Storming the Bastille,” baguettes in hand.
“I spent 12 years planning it and paying for it myself,” she said. “I couldn’t do it anymore and asked the Prison for help… And now it’s a monster. But at the end of the day, it’s all about tits and free cake.”
Yep, you read that right. The revamped show will begin at 4:30pm this Saturday, July 14, with a fresh script, original songs and more audience participation than you can squirt a water gun at… Might we suggest you bring yours along.
Back in the early days, the Bastille Day party was under a tent in a parking lot. Now, thousands attend, in addition to all of the performers and re-enactors from the Fort Mifflin Historical Society with their muskets, and cannons.
And then of course, there’s there are the snow shovels. Ten teams perch on the roof of the prison, snow shovels in hand waiting for their queue: Marie Antoinette’s famous last words (almost), “Let them eat Tastykake!”
And with that, 3,000 Butterscotch Krimpets rain down onto the crowd.
A dozen of Fairmount’s bars and restaurants will be serving up French-inspired food and drinks throughout the day and night, including London Grill & Paris Wine Bar where a street party will be going on from 10am -10pm.
So get your peasant garb and water guns ready. Now, off with her head!
Storming of the Bastille
Where: Eastern State Penitentiary 2027 Fairmount Ave. Phila., PA 19130
When: Storming starts at 4:30pm/Street Fair 10am – 10pm
More Info: easternstate.org/bastille-day