On New Year’s Day in Philadelphia, a centuries-old tradition will march its way down Broad Street in one of America’s most significant historic cities, Philadelphia. The 2020 Mummers Parade is coming up soon and not to be missed. The parade is a mix of spectacular costumes, silly antics, and musical performances that will delight people all ages.
Origins Of The Mummers Parade in Early America
The Mummers Parade is one of the oldest folk festivals in the United States. In 1790, George Washington welcomed the mummers (masked mimes generally associated with Christmas time) who called at his Philadelphia home. The parade grew out of a mix of several immigrant traditions. The Swedish immigrants had a tradition of celebrating the start of the new year with fantastic musical performances. The English and Irish immigrants brought the tradition of the Mummers play, a short scene performed by traveling actors dressed in intricate costumes.
Around 1900, the city of Philadelphia adopted the parade as an official event. Since then, there has rarely been a New Year’s Day without the festive procession. Local people work throughout the year to prepare their spots within one of five divisions:
- Comics: Clowns who are known for their silly and captivating pratfalls.
- Wench Brigades: This specially-costumed division is often accompanied by brass bands.
- Fancies: This division focuses primarily on its extravagant costumes.
- String Bands: Members of this musical division are judged by the quality of their performance.
- Fancy Brigades: This group combines fancy costumes with comic performance.
Where to See the Mummers Parade
The Mummers Parade begins at 9 AM at the intersection of Market Street and 15th Street. It follows 15th Street down to Broad Street. The participants then take a long walk down Broad Street to Washington Street. Most observers will line up along Broad Street, where they can see the entire spectacle.
Although the parade is free at most locations, passionate Mummers fans can purchase special tickets for seating at the main grandstand for $20 a person. You can reserve your seat at the Independence Visitor Center.
If you want to see the full performances of the different divisions, there are four performance areas.
- 15th Street and Market Street: This is the main judging station. Each entrant does their full performance at the start of the parade.
- Broad Street and Sansom Street: Every string band will stop and perform at this location.
- Broad Street and Pine Street: This is the performance area for non-string band divisions.
- Broad Street and Carpenter Street: This is the final performance area for all divisions.
How to Get to the Parade Route
Many of the streets that are near the parade route are closed on New Year’s Day. You can hire a car to bring you closer. Alternatively, public transportation will run on a limited schedule and can bring you within walking distance. No matter which way you go, expect things to be quite congested, so plan ahead.
Where to Stay in Philadelphia
If you are visiting in the city around the end of the year, several hotels in Philadelphia will put you near the parade route. Wherever you stay, the Mummers Parade 2020 will be an unforgettable way to start the new year. Just start planning now, so you don’t miss out on this rare celebration.
Unbound Collection the Bellevue: Hyatt’s Unbound Collection, The Bellevue Hotel gives you a comfortable stay with excellent amenities in a landmark building.
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Center City: This hotel on the parade route offers suites with sweeping views of the city.
Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown Center City: Comfortable accommodations in the heart of the Philadelphia arts scene.
Holiday Inn Express Philadelphia-Midtown: A budget-minded choice within walking distance of the Mummers parade.