Ten years ago Firefly Festival announced that it would be having their inaugural festival in The Woodlands of Dover, Delaware, right next to the Dover International Speedway. The Mid-Atlantic region of the United States had yet to have a large-scale overnight camping festival lay claim in their territory, so when locals heard about the arrival of Firefly the excitement was buzzing. The first year of the festival boasted headlining acts like The Killers, Jack White, The Black Keys and a diverse range of many more name brand musical acts. Over the next decade, Firefly rose to fame as the premiere music festival in the Northeastern region of the country and this year, the festival celebrated its 10th anniversary exactly the way that it should have.
The Woodlands were decked out to the nines with five different stages — The Nest, The Treehouse, The Backyard Stage, The Pavilion and the new and improved Firefly Main Stage. Spreading across tens of acres in the Delaware forest, Firefly Festival created a magical and mystical world of fun for a truly amazing weekend escape. Headliners this year included Halsey, My Chemical Romance, Green Day and Dua Lipa to close out the festival. Other acts included DJ’s like John Summit, Jaime XX and Loud Luxury as well as up and coming bands like The Regrettes, Dayglow, Spill Tab and more over the span of 4 straight days.
Firefly kicked off on September 22nd and the Thursday lineup was nothing short of amazing — local favorites Mannequin Pussy opened the festival followed by WILLOW, San Holo, 100 Gecs and more. Though half of the festival grounds were closed off until the official first full day on Friday, the fans stepped up and showed out. The Woodlands were packed with fans donning all sorts of festival attire and carrying some highly comedic totems throughout the crowd. The energy was palpable and it was setting up to be a fantastic weekend.
Friday kicked off with Mod Sun on the Firefly Main Stage, who took a moment to FaceTime his mother to show her the crowd that had amassed for his performance. “I have always wanted to play Firefly Festival ever since it started” Mod Sun explained to the crowd and finally, his dream had come true. Beautiful, slightly chilly, weather made for a more than memorable Friday with Cold War Kids, Ashnikko, Avril Lavigne, LSDREAM and Weezer performing. New Jersey natives, My Chemical Romance, headlined the day while German DJ, Zedd, closed out day 2 on the Backyard Stage and brought us into the early morning hours.
By Day 3, the Firefly community had fully formed. People throughout the festival grounds were intertwining, making new friends and venturing to different sets to discover new music. Tucked into the woods and lined with string lights throughout the trees above, The Treehouse Stage saw many up and coming artists perform including Jordana, Seb, Lo Moon and more. Saturday was the day for the indie rock lovers at Firefly as Matt Maeson, Wolf Alice, Yungblud, The Head and The Heart and HAIM all performed back to back. Punk rock legends and California natives, Green Day, closed out the main stage that evening, while DJ’s Seven Lions and Porter Robinson closed out The Pavilion and Backyard Stages respectively.
By Day 4 the energy remained high and fans were looking forward to wrapping the 10th edition of Firefly in style. While storms in the area posed a threat to the final day of the magic, the festivities continued on in the early afternoon. On the Firefly Main Stage, flor and Magic City Hippies left fans wanting more with their stellar performances. While queer gender non-conforming artist Dorian Electra and punk rock band The Regrettes left their marks on the Backyard Stage. Unfortunately, the festival was cut short due to the weather as massive yellow screens and a doomsday-esque voice cut off The Regrettes’ performance midway through. Due to bad weather in the area, Firefly was told by local authorities that all attendees needed to evacuate the premisis for safety reasons. While many fans were not understanding the call to action despite the sunny blue skies above, hundreds of people exited the festival into the North Hub campgrounds. Music was blasting and fans were jumping on picnic tables dispersed throughout the campgrounds. The fans made it clear that they were willing to wait out the storm because you couldn’t take Firefly from them.
After a couple hours, the festival announced that the storm had passed and the Firefly gates reopened. While some artists sets, including a personal favorite of mine, Elderbrook, were outright cancelled, Firefly did their best to readjust the schedule to accommodate the remaining acts of the day including Manchester Orchestra, T-Pain, Charli XCX, Conan Gray and the final headliner of the festival: Dua Lipa. Neither the stormy weather on the final day or the frigid nighttime temperatures at Firefly could take the fans away from The Woodlands. The enchanting forest stocked full with multiple stages, drag performances, silent discos, shopping bazaar’s and their very own Pride Parade, presented fans with the ultimate weekend getaway. Firefly 2022 will be known for two things: the most epic and memorable way to close out the final weekend of summer and… THE LEG! (you’ll understand if you were there).
Substream last attended Firefly Festival in 2017 and in five years, the festival has grown massively and leveled up in ways that we didn’t know were possible. Over a week later and we’re still reeling with excitement and happiness from the most magical weekend of our lives. We cannot wait to return to Firefly next year to see what additional magic The Woodlands offers us!