Date: New Year’s Day, January 1, 2017
Parade Start: 9 a.m. – see full lineup here
String Band Division: 1 p.m.
Fancy Brigade: 12 – 5 p.m.
Fancy Brigade Finale: 5 p.m.
Fancy Brigades hold two ticketed competitions at the Pennsylvania Convention Center—the first at 12 p.m. and the second at 5 p.m.
Order of March
- South Philadelphia
- Quaker City
- Polish American
- Greater Overbrook
- Greater Kensington
Staging Area: JFK Blvd between 16th and 22nd streets
Parade Start: City Hall
Main Performance: City Hall – 15th St. and JFK Blvd
Performance Areas: City Hall – 15th St. and JFK Blvd (Judging Station), Broad St. and Sansom St. and Broad St. and Carpenter St.
Parade Route: Enjoy continuous performances as the Mummers parade south on Broad Street from City Hall to Washington Ave.
Parade End: Broad St. and Washington Ave.
Where to Watch
Changing the route which traditionally started in South Philadelphia, the 115th annual Mummers Parade parade began at City Hall in 2015 with judging at 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard. It then went south on Broad Street to its end point at Washington Avenue. This year, the parade will keep the same route.
Once the Fancy Brigades finish the entire route—another new parade feature this year—they head to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for their performances.
Those who want a sneak peek of what’s to come can catch the Mummers running last-minute practices at John F. Kennedy Boulevard between 16th and 22nd Street. Spectators will have the opportunity to meet the performers, get an up-close look at the spectacular costumes, and snap photos with the costumed marchers.
Getting to the Parade
One of the best places to view the spectacle is from the judging stands near City Hall, but tickets must be reserved in advance. Tickets to both Fancy Brigade Finales can be purchased for $20-$25 online at comcasttix.com in person at the Independence Visitor Center.
Spectators are encouraged to leave their cars behind and use public transportation to get into the city. Those who do drive, should park in parking garages and pay attention to street parking restrictions.
New Year’s Day is about celebration, and there’s no better place to enjoy the festivities than at the Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade.
During the festive, 117 year-old tradition, 10,000 men, women and children dressed in colorfully lavish costumes twirl, sashay, pirouette, and strut down one of the city’s main streets.
For 2015, the Mummers made some changes to the nation’s oldest folk parade, which included a shorter route on Broad Street, marching in a different direction (north to south starting at City Hall), judging at the start of the parade instead of at the end, and performances that run the length of the route and not just in certain locations. Parade organizers felt these changes would make the unforgettably wild ritual even more fun, more family-friendly and more exciting for everyone – and it did. For 2017, the parade route and changes remain.
While a carnival-like atmosphere welcomes anyone who decides to stop by, a little advance preparation will help revelers get the best views of the spectacle. And if you’re traveling from out of town, spending the night in the city will ensure an early start to the day.
Who Are Mummers?
Mummers are men and women of all ages who belong to the more than 40 organized clubs that make up the parade participants.
The clubs, split into five divisions—Comics, Wench Brigades, Fancies, String Bands and Fancy Brigades—function mainly to stage their playful performances on New Year’s Day. But, Mummers do perform at other events throughout the year, and for many Philadelphia-area families, Mummery is a tradition that spans generations.
Additional Parade Details
The day’s highlight is the parade itself, which begins at City Hall and marches south—the opposite of past parades—on Broad Street to Washington Avenue.
Each division knows its role: the Comics and Wench Brigades satirize issues, institutions and people; the Fancies impress with glamorous outfits that rival those of royalty; the String Bands gleefully play banjos, saxophones, percussion, and other reed and string instruments; and the Fancy Brigades produce tightly choreographed theatrical extravaganzas. But, the noisy camaraderie shouldn’t fool the novice spectator, as each club is embroiled in a friendly, yet fierce, competition for local bragging rights.
After the revelry, there’s more work ahead for members of the Fancy Brigades. The groups put on two elaborate Broadway-style performances for ticket holders at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in the afternoon.
Mummery traces its roots to ancient Roman laborers who ushered in the festival of Saturnalia by marching in masks while exchanging gifts and satirizing the issues of the day. In the 1600s, Swedish settlers to Philadelphia’s outskirts honored Christmas by beseeching their neighbors for dessert and liquor by dressing up, chanting and shooting firearms.
The party eventually migrated to New Year’s Day and evolved into a series of neighborhood parades; then, as immigrants moved to the area from Ireland and Italy, each group added their own cultural flair to the local customs. In 1901, the tradition began in earnest with the first recognized and judged Mummers Parade. The term “Mummer” is German and means “to costume or masquerade.”