Where to Celebrate Bastille Day in Philadelphia

Liberté, égalité, fraternité ... and lots of macarons and wine.

bastille day

Celebrate Bastille Day around Philly. / Photograph courtesy of Good King Tavern

Commemorating the storming of the Bastille prison during the Revolution, le quatorze juillet is France’s celebration of independence. If the Francophile in you longs to get your liberté-égalité-fraternité on, here are your best bets around Philly.

Bake Macarons with the Free Library
Join pastry chef Monica Glass at the library’s Culinary Literacy Center to learn how to make the delicate, sometimes temperamental, French cookies, from fluffy batter to filling to assembly. Tickets are available online; proceeds from ticket sales go toward the Culinary Literacy Center’s community programming.
$25, July 13th, 6 p.m., Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street.

Happy Hour at Forsythia
Stop by this Old City French bar and restaurant from July 13th through 15th for some Bastille Day special menu additions. Beverage director Shawn Miller will be mixing up A Drama in Paris, with vodka, absinthe, Cappelletti, smoked simple syrup and lemon; while chef Christopher Kearse is serving escargot à la Provençal (with tomato and chartreuse-almond butter, pearl onion and bergamot crouton), and seared foie gras with pickled cherries, marcona almonds and truffle.
Pay-as-you-go, July 13th-15th, Forsythia, 233 Chestnut Street.

Seared foie gras at Forsythia / Photograph by Max Mesterr

Flag Raising at City Hall
The morning of Bastille Day, join Alliance Française and other French organizations at City Hall to sing “La Marseillaise” and raise the French flag.
Free, July 14th, 11 a.m., City Hall, 1400 John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

Parc’s Bastille Day Celebration
Bastille Day is also Parc’s birthday, so naturally the French restaurant goes all out with food and drink specials, live music, kids’ activities and more.
Pay-as-you-go, July 14th, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., 225 South 18th Street.

bastille day parc

Bastille Day at Parc / Photograph by Laura Swartz

Bastille Day at Royal Boucherie
For a special Bastille Day evening, burlesque performer Lelu Lenore will perform at this French-inspired bistro — in various Marie Antoinette-inspired costumes, obviously. Plus, Royal Boucherie will be serving up a variety of French tapas and champagne-based cocktails, and playing an all-French playlist for even more festiveness.
Pay-as-you-go, July 14th, 5-8 p.m., 52 South 2nd Street.

Bearded Ladies Cabaret’s A Bearded Dozen Anniversary Fundraiser
For so long, Bastille Day in Philly was synonymous with the Bearded Ladies Cabaret at Eastern State Penitentiary. John Jarboe, dressed as iconic chanteuse Édith Piaf, would headline a whimsical retelling of the French Revolution, complete with a person dressed as a baguette, Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” rewritten with lyrics about the revolution, and la pièce de resistance: Marie Antoinette ordering hundreds of Tastykakes to rain down from the prison. Nothing will ever fill the Krimpet-sized hole in my heart, but at least there are still the Beards.

bastille day bearded ladies

Bearded Ladies Cabaret at Bastille Day at Eastern State Penitentiary / Photograph by Laura Swartz

Now celebrating 12 years, the Bearded Ladies Cabaret will debut their new film, and guests will enjoy live music, carnival games, drinks and more.
$25-$150 (or $1,000 for a group of 10), July 14th, 6-10 p.m., Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street.

Bastille Day Dinner at The Dutch
I know it sounds counterintuitive that a place called The Dutch is celebrating French independence day, but owner and chef Lee Styer has a background in French cuisine, and he’s breaking it out for a special one-night-only five-course prix-fixe dinner. The menu includes tuna crudo, sweetbread pâté, striped-bass bouillabaisse, pork belly or beef tenderloin, and vanilla custard éclair — and each course is paired with a glass of wine. There are only two seatings (7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.), and reservations can only be made over email. (Send name, party size, and desired time to info@fondphilly.com to reserve your spot.)
$150, July 14th, 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., The Dutch, 1537 South 11th Street.

Block Party at The Good King Tavern
For the fourth year running, Good King Tavern is shutting down the streets with music by Philly DJs and Liberty Bellows, French street food specials, games (including a corn hole tournament), face painting, and a raffle giveaway supporting Abortion Liberation Fund of PA. The restaurant’s sister wine bar Le Caveau will be serving food and wine on the street; plus, they’ll be canning a celebratory cocktail called Marseille Afternoon made with Ricard pastis, pistachio orgeat, lime and sparkling wine. The restaurant itself will also be open all day serving some food specials (walk-in dining only).
Pay-as-you-go, July 16th, noon-8 p.m., 614 South 7th Street.

Good King Tavern’s celebratory canned cocktail, Marseille Afternoon / Photograph courtesy of Good King Tavern

Alliance Française Party in Clark Park
Bring your own picnic, play la pétanque (it’s kind of the French version of bocce ball), and enjoy live music and entertainment in the park.
$10, July 16th, 2-5 p.m., Clark Park, 4300-4398 Baltimore Avenue.