Firefly Beats Expectations, Fans Are Coming Back Next Year

As the much-anticipated 2016 Firefly music festival came to a close, music fans proclaimed it an overwhelming success.

“The festival was amazing! The vibes were so positive,” remarked Ryan Fischer, a 16-year-old from Wilmington. Recent high school graduate Ethan Ivins, 18, agreed, stating, “Everyone comes to Firefly committed to having a good time, which I think is what makes it happen.” Ivins credits the overall magic of the experience to the mix of great friends, diverse music, and festival food.


Fans young and old enjoyed Earth Wind & Fire at Firefly 2016

1.    The Music

While some concertgoers observed that the headliners were perhaps not up to the usual Firefly standards, many smaller bands were a welcome surprise. The Wombats and Oh Wonder became crowd favorites with their contagious energy. Wilmington’s Taylor Lyons, 17, enjoyed how the multi-stage venue provided lots of opportunities to get up-close to bands like Hippie Sabotage.

The Pavilion was also a hit, featuring Electronic Dance Music, or EDM. The frenzied, psychedelic feel of the Pavilion was enhanced by an intricate hanging balloon sculpture (with enormous balloons clustered in the shape of grape vines) and non-stop pulsing light shows.

Some of the most-recognizable acts such as Major LazerKings of Leon, Mumford and Sons, and Florence and the Machine were also cited as highlights. Barbra Fleming, 19, raved of Florence and the Machine, “She was amazing, unbelievable! She really connected with the crowd and made it such a great experience.”


From pizza to pitas, 30 restaurants offered a variety of options through the 4-day festival

2.    The Food

Many budget-conscious Firefly campers shared that they existed for four days on ClifBars and goldfish, venturing out to concessions only to fill up at one of the convenient Camelback water stations. Ivins and his friends grabbed the occasional burger but cited the stuffed pretzel stand as their daily favorite.

With the availability of one-day passes, non-campers were surprised to find gourmet concessions like slow-braised sandwiches from Mayhem & Stout, delicious vegan take-out from Island Noodles, and pulled pork mac n’ cheese from Cheesy Pig.

3. The Camping

The consensus from Firefly fans is that the overall experience hinges most on camping decisions. From general admission to high-end Glamping, Firefly offers a variety of camping options to accommodate concertgoers of all ages and discomfort-tolerance.

Caleigh Sturgeon, a rising senior from Radnor, PA, commented, “Camping definitely determines the vibrancy of your experience, because it defines your accessibility to the festival grounds.” She recommended camping at least a few of the days as a way “to acclimate to the festival atmosphere.”

Adult campers agreed that staying on-site enhances the experience but favored either RV living or high-end Glamping. Wilmington’s Liz Simpler observed, “Premium Glamping was the way to do Firefly – air conditioned tents with wood floors and beds, nice bathrooms with hot showers, very close to the festival grounds…definitely not roughing it!”

Her daughter, Blakeley, also Glamped for the first time this year after camping regularly in the past. Comparing the two, she commented, “This year we did a Glamping site which was AMAZING… [The] only downside was that it was very difficult to find our other friends that were at the General Camping site since it was on the opposite side. But Glamping made my Firefly experience so much better, especially knowing that I could come home after a sweaty hot day full of dancing at concerts and shower in warm water and go to sleep in a nice air conditioned tent with fresh linens.”


Olga Nicole and Sissy Harris enjoy complimentary beverages in the Artists Tent

Glampers and VIP ticket holders had access to special air-conditioned “Artists Tents” with complimentary cocktails and light snacks as well as options for special viewing at select concert stages. One Red Frog Events organizer remarked, “We wanted to create an unforgettable experience for guests every step of the way.”

Overall, this year’s Firefly satisfied the range of music-lovers – campers, one-day-visitors, teens, and adults. With pre-sale tickets available today, many have already started to consider plans for Firefly 2017.

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About the Contributor

Sadie Proud

Sadie Proud

Sadie Proud is a rising Senior at Wilmington Friends School. She serves as Teen Advisor, editor, and contributor for ShimmerTeen, the national girls' health platform of Girlmentum Media in partnership with LiveStrong and HuffPost Teen. She is co-editor-in-chief of her school newspaper, The Whittier Miscellany, and was recently elected President of the 2016 session of the Model Organization of American States. Sadie founded the Be a Friend campaign in the Spring of 2016.