An iconic annual tradition, the Mummers Parade features 10,000 men and women decked out in lavish costumes -- crafted all year long -- as they twirl, sashay and strut up Broad Street. An unforgettably wild ritual, the parade is family-friendly and fun for everyone. (Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC)
Philadelphia’s favorite New Year’s Day tradition is back for its 113th year.
The annual Mummers Parade will start 2013 on a very festive foot.
The day is packed with activities and events, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed or miss part of the fun.
So to make sure you’re well-equipped for the Mummers madness, check out our comprehensive guide to the Mummers Parade:
The Mummers’ tradition dates back to 400 B.C. with the Roman Festival of Saturnalias, where folks marched around in masks throughout a day full of satire and noise-making.
The Mummers Parade is made up of 10,000 men and women of all ages. They dress up in colorful and sparkly attire and make their way from South Philly to City Hall, performing routines they’ve been practicing all year long just for this day.
The men and women make up 40 organized clubs, and each club is split into one of five divisions: the Comics, Wench Brigades, Fancies, String Bands and Fancy Brigades. Each division has a separate theme for their performance — The Comics and Wench Brigades make fun of issues and public figureheads, the Fancies compete for the most dazzling outfits, the String Bands showcase their musical talent as they play reed and string instruments and the Fancy Brigades perform highly choreographed shows.
New This Year:
The Mummers Parade will introduce an extra-special new aspect of the parade this year: a Fancy Brigade made up exclusively of drag queens.
The group will consist of 10 seasoned drag performers who will dance along Broad Street and end with their brigade performance at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. This addition to the Mummers Parade will make for an even more colorful and fanciful event. We’re excited!
Where To Watch:
The Mummers Parade starts in South Philly at various locations; each division starts at a different spot. The Comics and Wench Brigades enter at Washington Avenue, the Fancies start at Broad and Snyder Streets and the String Bands at Broad Street and Oregon Avenue. Fancy Brigades start at Oregon Avenue in the mid-afternoon but only get as far as Washington Avenue, where they get on buses and head for the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Insider tip: the major intersection at Broad Street and Washington Avenue is the only place where you can check out all of the brigades.
Once it emerges from South Philly, the parade runs up Broad Street to City Hall. The best (free) places to catch all the action are at the performance locations along the route, where each bridge stops to perform for the crowd.
These official performance locations are at Broad and Sansom Streets, Broad and Pine Streets, Broad and Shunk Streets and Broad Street and Washington Avenue.
• Pennsylvania Convention Center: The Fancy Brigades will have their annual MummersFest Fancy Brigade Finale at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. There are two performances, the first at noon and the second at 5 p.m. Tickets range from $20-$25 and are available here. See below for more information.
• Judging Stands Near City Hall: For front-row views of the Mummers Parade on Broad Street look no further than the seats at the judging stands near City Hall. Unlike sidewalk seating, the bleacher seats at City Hall require tickets and advance purchase. Tickets are available at the Independence Visitor Center and cost $19.
There’s a lot more information below, including insider tips, details on the MummersFest Fancy Brigade Finale and more.
Attendees are encouraged to take public transportation to the parade, and if you do drive, park in a garage.
Bring plenty of weather-appropriate clothes. Whether it’s raining, snowing, sleeting, windy or sunny and unseasonably warm (fingers crossed), be prepared, as this is a 100% outdoor event.
If you do end up getting a little chilly, check out the New Year’s Day festivities inside the Kimmel Center. Not only will they have free family-friendly celebrations all day long, but the Kimmel Center veranda is also a great spot to catch a glimpse of the Mummers parading up Broad Street.
SugarHouse Casino Mummers Party Bus
SugarHouse Casino is providing parade attendees with an awesome free perk. Hop aboard the Mummers Party Bus leaving from the casino every hour on the hour from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Not only is the bus free, but parking at the casino is, too. Those who want to participate in the free service must have, or sign up for, a Rush Rewards card.
After the parade, Mummers storm down “Two Street” for after-hours partying as the winner of each category is deliberated by the judges at City Hall.
MummersFest and Fancy Brigade Finale
MummersFest is back this year, running from December 28-31 with the Fancy Brigade Finale on January 1, noon and 5 p.m. The New Year’s celebration gets started at 11:30 a.m., with a meet-and-greet with the Fancy Brigades. Snap pictures with performers on the show floor, and get in step with the merrymaking in a Giant Mummers Strut.
Then catch the Mummers matinee at noon, with four-and-a-half-minute performances by each of the 10 competing Fancy Brigades. You’re in for a spectacular two-and-a-half-hour show, with lavish costumes, elaborate floats and props and Broadway-quality choreography.
Can’t wait until New Year’s Day? To check out the Behind the Sequins making-of-the-Mummers video series, click here.
2013 Mummers Parade
When: January 1, 8:50 a.m.-about 6 p.m
Where: Parade runs along Broad Street, beginning at Oregon Avenue and ending at City Hall
Cost: Free along main route
More info: www.mummers.com