About This Festival
Firefly made a big splash onto the scene in 2012 with ambitions to be the biggest music festival on the East Coast—providing people with a festing destination on par with Coachella, produced by the Chicago-based company Red Frog Events, which also puts together Warrior Dash and American Beer Classic. Firefly aims to entertain music fans of all types and genres, although it definitely skews toward young and trendy; you’re not necessarily likely to see multi-generational crowds here. When organizers got together to imagine what a quintessential summer night of outdoor music would entail, fireflies (a.k.a. lightning bugs, depending on where you’re from) kept coming up as part of that experience. There’s something nostalgic about catching a bug in a jar, evokes carefree summer days. And thus, the name—and a festival—was born.
Quick, Big Growth Spurt
Though it’s merely a couple years old, Firefly has grown exponentially bigger—and fast. With a mix of headlining, marquee artists and emerging, lesser-known talents, Firefly’s inaugural year brought about 35,000 people for a three-day event. That year, the Killers, the Black Keys and Jack White served as headliners, in addition to Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse and John Legend for a total of 50 acts. The following year, 2013, bumped up to four days, more than 70 bands and attracted nearly double that number of people: 65,000 who traveled from 50 states and 24 countries. As you might imagine, it just keeps on growing. In year three, Firefly is bringing more than 100 bands on seven stages to festival grounds that have nearly doubled in size since last year—to 154 acres from 87, in the hopes of accommodating up to 80,000.
You’ll find a mix of music on all seven stages and two of them, the Forest Stage (tucked into the woods) and a smaller called the Big Break Stage, are new. There’s the main stage, of course, plus the Lawn and Backyard stages, which are more open, and the Porch Stage, which is a tented pavilion. The full lineup has been announced and includes Foo Fighters, a reunited Outkast, Jack Johnson, Beck, Imagine Dragons, the Lumineers, Weezer, Pretty Lights, Arctic Monkeys, ZIggy Marley among others including the Wild Feathers, Kodaline, and Phosphorescent.
Perfect for loafing around the grounds, Toms shoes are available onsite, and you can customize them to your liking. There’s also the Coffeehouse area, so that you’re never tired and always ready for more music—complete with its own stage and acoustic line-up. Last year featured the Spinto Band, Kopecky Family Band and Trails and Ways; this year, look for Iron and Wine, Grouplove and Jake Bugg.
You’ll also find whimsical touches here and there to surprise you, such as the Pathway. During the daylight, the area looks to be nothing more than a compelling art installation—it will change every year. But at night, it comes to life. Last year, illuminated umbrellas were suspended in midair and hovering amid the forest canopy.
To kill time in between sets, challenge your friend, or escape the heat, head to the air-conditioned Arcade, where they’ve gathered up a mess of old-school arcade games (including Skee ball and air hockey) and plugged them in for your use. The best part? They don’t require quarters; it’s free. Oh, and if you are curious about the hot air balloon that’s just hanging out, and why no one has offered you a ride on it yet? It was a big part of the first year, but weather proved to be too unreliable to ensure its safe operation, so now it’s put to use as a quirky set piece.
Snacks, Meals and Toothbrushes
All the major food groups—including beer—are covered here, from healthy (vegan and vegetarian) to typical wide-ranging festival fare. Food vendors can be found throughout the festival grounds. What if you wake up in the morning at your campsite and you’re really hankering for some fresh peaches, or you’ve forgotten something essential like your toothbrush? Never fear. This year organizers have planned for two locations of the Hub, one in each campground site. There, you’ll encounter a farmers’ market with summer’s ripest produce, a convenience store, food trucks, and opportunities for morning yoga practice. It’s also home to an unofficial festival stage, Red Bull Sound Select, a showcase for a handful of relatively new artists.