The Complete Guide to Firefly Music Festival
The Evolution of the Firefly Music Festival Grounds Through the Years
Since the very first Firefly Music Festival in 2012, the number of guests and performances have grown like crazy and the festival grounds and attractions have expanded to fit in all the action. The mastermind producers behind the festival, Red Frog, signed a 10-year contract with Dover International Speedway for the land that transforms into “The Woodlands” each summer. That means they’re able to keep improving the area and infrastructure to make the festival experience even more amazing for fans every year.
The actual size of Firefly’s festival grounds tripled in its second year due to popularity. The Woodlands originally started off as a mere 87 acres of land but spread to over 300 acres (including campgrounds) by 2015. Now, through years of evolving and listening to fans, Firefly has created a comfortable space for festivalgoers that impresses most everybody.
Here are just a few of the other ways that the Firefly Festival grounds and map have evolved over the past seven years and what we can expect this year…
As the sheer volume of people camping has increased, so have the campgrounds and the number of helpful amenities that Firefly provides. They’ve increased the lanes for load-in efficiency to help with traffic and to avoid burdening the local community and highway. With over 16,000 campsites and 60,000 campers per year, they’ve also allowed for Wednesday camping to spread out loading times over more days (and satisfy avid campers who want to get there early). Options for camping have increased too, with the addition of bigger spaces for Group Camping and now Super Group Camping.
They’ve got tons of activities for campers now too! The silent headphone disco starts at midnight after the big stages shut down and keeps raging until 4 AM. In its most recent years, Firefly has partnered with Delaware Tourism to create sand volleyball courts in the North Hub to promote the state’s beaches as a travel destination. Campers can also hit the intramural fields to challenge each other to soccer and frisbee.
The Hub is where campers can take showers, shop at the market and general store, find food trucks, and take part in morning yoga. During the first two years of the festival, there was only one Hub to serve everybody. But ever since then, Firefly has set up two different Hubs, one in the north and one in the south. In the past, campers have had access to things like Starbucks, a wifi station, and a shade pavilion here.
After fan feedback, Firefly also added several mini-Hubs – known as “Posts” – near the campgrounds where festivalgoers can buy ice, refill water, and charge their phones.
The Nook (formerly called the Hammock Hangout) is still a part of Firefly Music Festival several years in. Name change aside, this has always been one of the most chill aspects of Firefly – lounging in The Woodlands with friends and relaxing in the shade of the trees. You can bring your own hammock if you don’t want to wait for a spot – they’ll have places for you to hang it!
More things that are staying the same? The Thicket still boasts its DJ-led headphone disco in the woods. They’ve still got the iconic hot air balloon for cool photos of the festival. And The Coffee House will be back again this year for more intimate music performances and iced lattes.
The Brewery is a constant for Firefly too. Delaware-based Dogfish Head returns each year with a different Firefly Ale, air-conditioned tent, and streamed performances at their beer garden-style space.
Back in the day, Firefly had The Arcade, a lounge filled with vintage games where fans could hang out and get competitive. Then it became The Beercade which included the addition of a bar. Last year, however, Firefly scrapped that concept and replaced it with The FORT, a fan-curated bar made with recycled materials and shipping containers stacked on top of one another. They filled it with food trucks, yard games, and viewing decks so you could still see The Lawn and Porch Stages while hanging out. According to planners, it was packed with festivalgoers all weekend long, so they consider the new concept a big win!
The Market and Food Vendors
Added in 2014, The Market features vendors from all over selling everything from one-of-a-kind handcrafted items to high-end goods. You’ll see festival fashion, art, and jewelry on display here. Firefly aims to include vendors who are making a positive social impact and provide unique products. (They also advise merchants that goods between $1 and $150 sell the best.) In past years, TOMS Shoes had a booth where you could design your own shoes and Alex and Ani sold its minimalist jewelry. Vendors change every year!
And the selection of food at Firefly has just gotten ridiculous. Back in the day, they had a couple dozen different food vendors, but in 2018 they’ll have almost 50. Food trucks, stands, restaurants, you’ll find it all here! Oh, and then there will be the bars, of course…
The venues at Firefly are epic. People love the fact that they can watch artists perform on beautiful stages surrounded by trees. They also love that some of the artists make their appearances at smaller, cozy venues where it feels super special and almost exclusive.
Firefly has had as many as 11 stages in years past – though the average has been more like 6 or 7 – but who knows how many there will be in 2018! Even outside of the festival grounds, the campsite has played host to jams on the Red Bull Sound Stages. The ever-popular Treehouse Stage was added in 2015 to showcase up-and-coming artists in an intimate nature-filled setting. And we do know those “Treehouse Sessions” are returning for 2018.
Prior to 2014, the Main Stage migrated from the south to the north of the festival grounds to allow more space for fans crowding in to see the headliners. The Forest Stage came and went, as did the Big Break Stage which hosted unsigned artists chosen by fans. But areas like The Lawn Stage, The Backyard Stage, and The Pavilion have been popular enough to stick around.
Last Year’s New Stuff
They’re keeping the new additions and festival map for 2018 a secret for now, but last year, Firefly introduced lots of new things to the grounds in addition to The FORT. More cocktail bars, tons of new food options, and The Rambler. What’s that, you ask? It’s a roving stage that moves around the festival, setting up in random spots for performances. And it’s made out of a retired military Humvee. Whoa.
Of course, they’ve also let fans continue to decide on different aspects of the festival, from the theme of The Pathway to this year’s Firefly Ale ingredients to the logo designs and theme. The festivalgoers and producers claim the flow of the grounds has gotten better over the years. Not only does the growing experience of the Firefly team help, but the repeat fans after seven years really seem to know their way around!
We can’t wait to see what the 2018 festival map looks like, but we can’t help but think that Firefly will keep some things a secret until festival time!
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