Firefly Festival canceled for 2023

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The Firefly Music Festival drew thousands to Dover, and Kent County reaped some of the marketing benefits over time. | PHOTO COURTESY OF AEG PRESENT

Dover — firefly music festival won’t light up the Woodlands stage at Dover Motor Circuit in 2023, as its organizer AEG Presents announced that the music festival would take a year off at that time.

“After 10 magical years of Firefly in The Woodlands, we’ve decided to take a year off to recharge our lights. We’ll see you in 2024,” read a short statement posted to Firefly’s branded social media pages along with a recap montage video.

Representatives of AEG presentsthe festival organizer, were unavailable for immediate comment on the decision on Thursday.

What exactly led to the decision to cancel the music festival for at least a year is not known to the public, but in addition to postponing a 2023 Firefly, AEG Presents had announced that its BUKU Music + Art project at the New Orleans had been canceled for the following year as well.

Coachella, its best-known music festival, and its country companion, Stagecoach, are still scheduled for April 2023. Other festivals booked for next year include: European country festival, Country to Country, March 10-12; the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival from April 28 to May 7; and Hangout Music Festival in Alabama May 19-21.

AEG Presents advertises 32 events in America, England and France on its website.

First launched in 2012, the annual Woodlands Music Festival was a welcome addition to central Delaware as NASCAR events dwindled in the 2010s. that year, headliners like Paul McCarthey and The Killers.

Firefly’s inaugural year under Red Frog Events started with 35,000 people and nearly doubled the following year. In 2018, Coachella promoter AEG Presents bought the festival and has been hosting it ever since.

Capacity at The Woodlands was limited in 2021 as event promoters sought to resume operations after the COVID-19 pandemic caused many shows to be canceled the previous year. Even though capacity was reduced to around 50,000, it may have performed better than the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee this year, which had around 40,000 people.

AEG Presents did not provide Delaware Business Times attendance figures for the 2022 festival.

firefly music festival has been a boon for central Delaware, as the large number of people who flock to Dover to camp, stay in hotel rooms and enjoying music have brought in significant cash flow to gas stations and grocery stores. A 2014 study reports that $68 million was spent buying goods and services in the area, or about $850 per guest. There has been no updated economic study on Firefly’s impact since.

Kent County Tourism does little to promote the event, as AEG Presents is the second largest concert and entertainment promoter in the world after Live Nation. But hotels have seen plenty of rooms booked for Firefly support staff and vendors.

Meanwhile, NASCAR has faced a decline in events over the past decade. The racetrack recorded $31 million in admission revenue in 2008, which fell to $4.9 million in 2019.

Dover International Speedway spent around $1.5 million to reduce its capacity from 83,000 to 54,000 in 2019. At its peak ten years ago, the racetrack had a capacity of around 135,000. In November 2021, Dover Motorsports was acquired by Speedway Motorsports, one of the sport’s two largest track owners and operators.

“Over 10 events and 11 years, the Firefly Music Festival has given the Mid-Atlantic region countless musical memories,” said Mike Tatoian, President and CEO of Dover Motor Speedway. “Dover Motor Speedway has been proud to co-host Firefly since its inception and we look forward to its return to the Woodlands in 2024.”

“As we eagerly await the return of Firefly, we will continue to explore sports and entertainment opportunities to bring to our property for the community to enjoy,” he added.

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