In a city like Philadelphia, where there’s so much history, intrigue and atmosphere, it seems somehow unfair to waste your best Halloween costume on a party in a friend’s basement, or at the local bar. What if we told you that you could instead spend an evening sweeping around a medieval-style castle, gathering up show-stopping Instagram shots? What if we told you this all happens right in the heart of this amazing and quirky city?
More to the point, what if we told you that you’re invited?
Excited? We are!
Here are 13 things you need to know about Laurel Hill Cemetery’s 14th Annual Gravedigger’s Ball…
1. It’s Only Six Months Away
Today – April 26th – marks your official 6-month warning!
Halloween is on a Wednesday this year, which makes partying on the day itself a little awkward in terms of work or school commitments. The weekend before Halloween, however, is prime time! So mark your calendar now for Friday, October 26th, and prepare to kick the Hallo-weekend off to a splendid start.
When the invites for other events begin rolling in come September, remember: we asked first!
2. The Location is Incredible
So, where’s the party? This year, we’re thrilled to announce that our location will be the Masonic Temple at One North Broad Street, aka, this place…
You’ve seen it. It’s right across from City Hall.
Constructed in 1873, the exterior of the Masonic Temple is meant to look like a Norman cathedral. The interior is every bit as amazing. Each lavish room is constructed and decorated in a different theme. Among them are an Egyptian room, a Corinthian room, a Moorish room, a Renaissance hall, the Ionic hall, and of course, a grand staircase.
Check these out!
In other words, photo ops to die for all over the place.
3. Costumes Are HIGHLY Encouraged
Taking place so close to Halloween, Laurel Hill really wants to encourage guests at the Gravedigger’s Ball to come dressed in their best costume attire. Go spooky, elegant, mysterious, fantastical, historic, or just plain funny. Take a look at some of these photos of guests from past years bringing their costuming A-game.
4. Yes, there Will Be a Costume Contest
We’re really not kidding about the costume thing. In fact, we’re so serious about this that we hold an annual costume contest. Cool prizes are awarded for the best costume!
5. How Does an all-night Open Bar Sound?
Your ticket gets you access to an all-night premium open bar. Sip on cocktails, hoist a brew, or clink your wine glasses to toast your favorite Victorian cemetery. Spirits for the spirits!
6. You Can Tour the Masonic Temple While You’re There
Believe us, as you pass by these awe-inspiring rooms, you’re going to want a closer look. The Masonic Temple will have tour guides and docents on hand to take you through the different parts of the building, and to answer any questions you may have about the venue, its history and mysteries.
7. You Absolutely Won’t Go Hungry
The caterering will be provided by Catering By Design, and they will be at the top of their game for the Ball. There will be numerous dinner stations for you to select from, as well as butlered hors d’oeuvres. This way, you can pick and choose what you want to eat throughout the night, and considering the menu, you’ll definitely want to try it all!
8. The Masonic Temple is in the Middle of Everything
You really can’t get more central to the city of Philadelphia that One North Broad Street. It’s located right on the Market-Frankford Line, the Broad Street Line, and SEPTA routes 4, 7, 16, 33, 38, and 48. If you’re driving, there is parking available at the Convention Center Parking Facility, which is just steps away. And of course, there is always the taxi, Uber, or Lyft option available as well.
9. Not into Costumes? Okay, Black Tie!
We get it. You love Halloween and cemeteries, but you were kind of hoping for an excuse to dress up in your absolute best. We’ve got you covered there too. The Gravedigger’s Ball official dress code is “Black Tie or Costumes Suggested,” so there’s room to get both creative and fabulous. We know you will!
10. Yes, You’re Partying with Some Actual Gravediggers
The staff of Laurel Hill Cemetery will be in attendance, blending in and mingling with all the other guests. Among them will be our hardworking grounds crew, and our superintendent who’s been here for over 3 decades. If you’re lucky enough to catch one of these gentlemen in conversation, you’re in for some fantastically interesting stories. (As the saying goes: they know where all the bodies are buried.)
11. Victoriana is Kind of Our Thing
Steampunk, mourning garb, vintage designs, antique fabrics, filigree jewelry, top hats, hairwork, cameo necklaces… we live for this stuff! If you do too, you’ll be in excellent company. Our cemetery was founded in 1836 – one year before the official start date of the Victorian Era. The stones on our grounds have stood as a silent witness to every bit of history since.
So iron those waistcoats, fluff those bustles, and meet us at the Masonic Temple for one truly unforgettable night.
12. There Are Discounted Tickets for Younger People
It’s true that fundraising events can be a little pricey, especially for people who have to concentrate on managing a budget. That’s why we offer a generous “Young Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery” discount for those between the ages of 21 and 40. Your ticket still gets you everything the full-price ticket would, but the lower price makes it more accessible to those with student loans, young families, or first homes to consider.
13. You Can Bid On Some One-of-a-Kind Items While You’re Here
What will be at our silent auction this year? Those items will be revealed as we get closer to the date. In the past, we’ve featured great prizes like winery and brewery tours, luxury hotel stays, sports and theater tickets, Victorian memorabilia, private Laurel Hill tours, jewelry, art, salon and spa services, and gift baskets of all kinds. Guests at the Gravedigger’s Ball can bid on these items throughout the night, and the lucky winners get to take home the prizes, knowing the money has gone to a great cause.
BONUS! 14. You’re Supporting an Amazing Place Full of History, Culture, Education, and Over a Hundred Unique, Quirky Programs each Year
Yes, we intend to throw the most memorable and stylistically on-point Halloween party in the city (again), but at its heart, this ball is about supporting a really important part of Philadelphia. Laurel Hill has been around for 182 years, and in that time the cemetery has seen times of explosive growth and prosperity, but also times of neglect and disrepair. This is why the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery, a 501(c)(3) organization was founded in 1978. The annual Gravedigger’s Ball is our largest fundraiser.
(Photo Credit: Nicholas Rivera)
Historic cemeteries really depend on dedicated patrons like you to keep our gates open, the grass mowed, and our monuments looking their best. Every time you attend a tour, or buy a magnet in the gift shop, or yes, dress up and attend a black tie Halloween party in a masonic cathedral, you are very directly supporting one of the most beautifully original sites in our city; and in a place like Philly, that’s really saying something.
We sincerely hope to see you on Friday, October 26th, so we can party the night away together and say a very heartfelt “thank you” for keeping our city of the dead… alive.