Looking to celebrate the Summer Solstice? Jump behind the wheel and travel to Dover, Delaware for the Firefly Music Festival. Set on the edge of a low-density woodland, the three-day event will host more than 70 artists over four stages from headliners Tom Petty and Red Hot Chili Peppers to rising stars like Foster The People, The Lumineers, Alabama Shakes, Vampire Weekend and hip-hop legend Public Enemy.
The festival kicks off the first day of summer, June 21, and wraps up on Sunday, June 23, a full month earlier than the festival’s inaugural outing in 2012. It will be staged at an 87-acre site known as “The Woodlands” at the Dover International Speedway in central Delaware. Festival officials are preparing for upwards of 50,000 fans per day.
Firefly hopes to propel Delaware into the same rare musical sphere with annual summer gatherings such as Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and Lollapalooza. The festival is organized by Red Frog Events -- a Chicago-based production company famously known for throwing the extreme obstacle race Warrior Dash. Last year Firefly drew about 30,000 music fans a day from 48 states with a three-day lineup that featured artists such as Jack White, The Killers, The Black Keys, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, the Flaming Lips, and a total of 41 more bands.
Firefly is an open-air festival with plenty of outdoor camping, much like Bonnaroo in Tennessee. Considering 2012 was a first time festival, it was very well organized. Reports lauded its plenty of bathrooms (and reportedly no lines to use them) and no noise pollution from one stage to the next. Extras that Firefly brought to the table were Dog Fish Head Brewery which offered an air conditioned venue and created a Firefly Ale especially for the event.
Patrons who purchase the all-inclusive “Glamping ticket” will have camping amenities of a luxury hotel in the form of their own private safari tent, located steps from the festival entrance. Festival goers will be treated to a host of attractions to keep them occupied between sets, including hot-air balloon rides, the Vineyard wine garden, a number of enhanced culinary options, an arcade full of vintage games and a hammock haven nestled in the woods for those who just wants to soak up the laid-back vibe.
"After a highly successful inaugural event, we are excited to welcome Red Frog Events' Firefly Music Festival back to the Woodlands at Dover International Speedway," said Michael Tatoian, COO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. "After watching last year's event blossom into a premier music festival, we're excited to again partner with Red Frog in expanding on the success of year one and make the second annual event even better."
Last summer, the Delaware Tourism Office expected the festival to generate more than $12 million for the local economy, with hotel and restaurants filling up with music fans.
The beefed-up, second-year line-up boasts 2013 Grammy performers The Lumineers and recent “Saturday Night Live” musical guests Alabama Shakes and Vampire Weekend. The Lumineers have been a tour-de-force this year with their hit song, "Ho Hey." The band was also nominated for two Grammy Awards: one for best new artist and another for best Americana album.
Alabama Shakes is a soulful rock 'n' roll quartet, riding a well-deserved wave to fame. They released their self-titled debut in 2011. Alabama Shakes' style is marked by lead singer Brittany Howard's powerful voice-- who has been compared to Janis Joplin and Otis Redding-- and the group's irresistible energy. Together, they enthusiastically blend rock with soul, country, blues and roots.
Vampire Weekend was formed in 2006 while its members were studying at Columbia University. The band's self-titled 2008 debut spread like wildfire and produced three radio singles, including "Mansard Roof," "A-Punk" and "Oxford Comma." In 2010, Vampire Weekend released their sophomore album, "Contra," which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album but lost out to Firefly alum The Black Keys.
Also on the Firefly bill of 71 artists are bluegrass-tinged folkies The Avett Brothers, psychedelic rockers MGMT, upstart Compton, Calif. rapper Kendrick Lamar and Scottish DJ Calvin Harris, who was featured on Rihanna’s hit, “We Found Love.”
The performances will continue past last year’s 11 p.m. music curfew. Headliners will perform until midnight and a pair of late-night acts on Friday and Saturday will continue until 1 a.m. A fifth stage has been added in the camping area, “The Grove,” as have food trucks and farmers’ markets. Festival officials are also considering activities like water slides or volleyball courts in the camping area.
With its picturesque forest setting, the great lineup of bands, and an overall easy-going vibe, upstart Firefly seems well-positioned to deliver an even more impressive destination festival in June.
Early bird tickets went on sale Feb. 22 for $218 and sold out immediately. Later that day the amount of tickets purchased surpassed the 30,000 sold last year. For more ticket information, view a complete list of performers or learn more, visit www.FireflyFestival.com