courtesy PHL CVB
Published January 01, 2018
Festivals are a time to celebrate big occasions, and these festivals feature big parades, big fun and even bigger welcomes to visitors who are looking for a grand spectacle and a good time. Mardi Gras parades for all ages can be found in northwestern Louisiana; winter festivals that celebrate the season mean snow sculpting in Minnesota and floating parades in Florida. On New Year’s Day, the nation tunes in to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, but Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade, also on New Year’s Day, is just as colorful.
There’s another New Year’s Day parade that’s just as colorful as the Tournament of Roses Parade but not nationally televised nor nearly as famous. Every January 1 for almost 120 years, about 10,000 men, women and children who are part of “Mummers clubs” in Philadelphia dress in colorful, crazy costumes to parade and perform along one of the city’s main streets during the Mummers Parade.
Mummers of all ages belong to more than 40 organized clubs that participate in the parade. Each club belongs to one of five categories: Comics, Wench Brigades, Fancies, String Bands or the Fancy Brigades. Belonging to a Mummers club is a tradition that spans “from generation to generation,” said Jim DePhilippo, tourism sales manager for the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They get together and practice and hang out and have fun.”
The combination of the Mummers Parade’s longevity and its creativity makes it an unforgettable event, he said. It’s free to watch the parade from the route or at three special performance areas along Broad Street, but tickets must be reserved to watch the show from the judging stands near City Hall.
For groups, the best way to watch the spectacle is during two Fancy Brigade shows indoors at the Pennsylvania Convention Center that “really give you a highlight of the more exciting presentations, all while being the most comfortable,” he said. Groups can reserve prime seats for the Fancy Brigade Family Show in the morning or the Fancy Brigade Finale performance in the evening.
MummersFest, a four-day ticketed festival before the parade, allows visitors to watch the clubs rehearse, see costumes up close and even try some on, make crafts and more. New Year’s festivities kick off with fireworks shows on New Year’s Eve at 6 p.m. and again at midnight right on the Delaware River.