Party Like It’s 1777 at the Revolutionary Germantown Festival

After the Battle of Cliveden. Photo courtesy of Cliveden of the National Trust.
After the Battle of Cliveden. Photo courtesy of Cliveden of the National Trust.

Northwest Philadelphia’s signature annual event the Revolutionary Germantown Festival returns to Cliveden and other historic sites on October 5, 2019 from 10am to 4pm.

A tradition since 1927, the Revolutionary Germantown Festival takes visitors on a journey to the fall of 1777 when Philadelphia—then the nation’s capital—and Germantown were occupied by British forces. Washington, who was stationed in Montgomery County, devised a surprise attack to force the British out of Germantown and hopefully Philadelphia. The attack, now known as The Battle of Germantown, occurred in the morning of October 4, 1777 with most of the fighting taking place on and around Cliveden’s grounds. Although Washington was successful in surprising the British, the British were able to recover, gather reinforcements, and win the battle after hours of fighting.

The British are coming. Photo courtesy of Cliveden of the National Trust.
The British are coming. Photo courtesy of Cliveden of the National Trust.

Go back in time to the days before television, internet, and wrist watches from Festival activities tell the stories of the diverse people who were affected by the Battle of Cliveden, from American and British soldiers and Germantown residents, to enslaved Africans, free blacks, and local Quaker abolitionists.

The highlight of the activities are the recreated battle scenes at noon and 3pm, thrilling events filled with Revolutionary sights and sounds on the exact grounds where British troops were startled by a surprise attack by General Washington and the Continental troops on October 4, 1777. Washington hoped to liberate Philadelphia from British occupation by force; he was ultimately unsuccessful—the British defeated the Continental Army, thanks to reinforcements in Germantown and Cliveden’s Main House, where 120 British infantrymen barricaded themselves inside. Today, battle scars can still be seen on Cliveden’s walls and grounds.

Cliveden, Historic Germantown, and the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks (PhilaLandmarks) continue their partnership to bring Germantown’s revolutionary history to life. Eleven of Historic Germantown’s eighteen sites were standing during the Battle of Germantown and each has their own stories about how the battle affected them. Cliveden will be presented with the Regimental Colors of the Royal Welch Fusiliers by Lieutenant-General Jonathon Riley, Honorary Colonel of the RWFA, Ltd, after the first re-enactment.

Historic Grumblethorpe, part of PhilaLandmarks, will again host the British 43rd Regiment of Foot encampment and Oktoberfest in Revolutionary Germantown, the annual party where the British celebrate their victory. Entertainment runs from 4pm to 8pm with live music and catered food.

Find out more about the Revolutionary Germantown Festival at


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