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. (Photos by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
Ready to strut, Philadelphia? The City of Brotherly Love’s New Year’s Day tradition returns for its 114th year on the first day of 2014.
The annual Mummers Parade will start 2014 on quite the festive foot.
With more than 10,000 lavishly costumed men and women dancing in the streets, the day-long affair resembles Mardi Gras and is packed with activities and events.
Make sure you’re well-equipped for the Mummers madness, and check out our guide to the Mummers Parade, below.
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.
In Philadelphia, the tradition dates back more than a hundred years and The Mummers Parade has now evolved into a carnival-style event made up of 10,000 men and women of all ages.
The Mummers, costumed in colorful and sparkly outfits, 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.
Where To Watch
The Mummers Parade starts in South Philly at various locations, with each division launching from a different locale.
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.
Note that the major intersection at Broad Street and Washington Avenue is the only place where you can check out all of the brigades as they march pass.
Once all the brigades converge on Broad Street, the parade merrily proceeds up Broad Street to City Hall.
One of the best places to view the spectacle is from the judging stands near City Hall, but tickets must be reserved in advance (see below). For sidewalk seating, arrive early and set up near a performance location, where marching String Bands perform. These free viewing spots are at the intersections of Broad Street and the following streets: Sansom Street (at the Union League), Pine Street, Washington Avenue and Shunk Street.
Plus, fans from around the world will be able to watch the Mummers Parade on a live stream online starting at 10 a.m.
Though catching the Mummers action on Broad Street is completely free, the best seats do require the purchase of a ticket.
• Pennsylvania Convention Center: The Fancy Brigades perform the annual MummersFest Fancy Brigade Finale at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in two performances, the first at noon and the second at 5 p.m. Tickets are $23 to $28, and are also available at the Independence Visitor Center or by calling 800-537-7676.
• Grand Stand at City Hall: For front-row views of the Mummers Parade on Broad Street look no further than the Grand Stand bleachers on JFK Boulevard between 15th and 16th streets, which offer more than 1,200 seats. Unlike sidewalk seating, the bleacher seats at City Hall require tickets and advance purchase. Tickets are available at the Independence Visitor Center and cost $20.
See more information below, including insider tips, details on the MummersFest Fancy Brigade Finale, a map of the best viewing points and more.
Getting There & 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-percent outdoor event.
If you do end up getting a little chilly, check out the New Year’s Day festivities inside the Kimmel Center. The arts complex hosts free family-friendly celebrations all day long and dishes tasty Garces catering treats, but the Kimmel Center veranda is also a great spot to catch a glimpse of the Mummers parading up Broad Street.
SugarHouse Casino, the parade’s sponsor, provides 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. to 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 to Two Street — as South 2nd Street at Mifflin Street is better known — for after-hours partying as the winner of each category is deliberated by the judges at City Hall.
Home to many of the Mummers’ clubhouses, Two Street transforms into an all-out, multi-block street party that usually continues into the wee hours.
MummersFest and Fancy Brigade Finale
MummersFest is back this year, too, running from December 28 to 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.
2014 Mummers Parade
When: January 1, 10 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
MAP — Best Places To Watch The Mummers Parade