The Mummers Parade is the most colourful parade in the United States.

Known as the oldest folk festival in the United States, Mummers Parade is a parade held on January 1. During this day, 116-year-old tradition, 10,000 men, women and children dressed in colorful and lavish costumes to twirl, sashay, pirouette and strut down one of the city’s main streets. Famous for being one of the most auspicious and celebratory places to spend your New Year’s Day, Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade grew out of European customs brought to the city by early settlers. Its origins go way back to the medieval England, where troupes of costumed performers roamed from house to house presenting a mummers play – a.k.a. a folk drama – during Christmas time.

With a carnival-like atmosphere that welcomes all, this festival features men and women of all ages who belong to more than 40 organized clubs. The clubs are split into five sections which compete against each other, namely comics, wench brigades, fancies, string bands and fancy brigades. These clubs function mainly to stage the festival performers’ anticipated performances on New Year’s Day. The day’s highlight is the parade itself, which this year begins at City Hall and marches south on Broad Street to Washington Avenue.



The earliest known Mummers club was conceptualized way back in the 1840s, after which several other clubs followed suit. The city of Philadelphia organized the first Mummers Parade in 1901, and needless to mention, it was a success. Despite its popularity, the festival costs the city of Philadelphia over one million every year. The organizers initiated “Save the Mummers Fund” in 2008 to make up for the money the city was losing.



If you’re looking for a colourful and extravagant escape during New Year’s, this is the ideal festival. 2016’s Mummers Parade promises to be more elaborate than ever, we recommend not missing it. If you want to know more about this festival, check out this website. Do subscribe to Festival Sherpa to know about many more intriguing festivals.