Every year between the months of May and June in the Smoky Mountains around 9pm, the dark sky becomes illuminated with thousands of tiny flickering lights. Some 19 species of fireflies awake and put on one of the National Parks best evening events. For years now the Synchronous Firefly Festival has welcomed thousands of visitors from around the world to this illuminated spectacle.
National Park Information
For the lucky visitors who waited patiently to process their attendance request by a lottery draw through the National Parks website this is an experience of a lifetime.
- During the shuttle operating period, a $2.00 (cash only) round-trip, per-person fee will be collected when boarding the shuttle at Sugarlands Visitor Center.
- Parking Confirmation will be distributed via a lottery on Recreation.gov – Firefly Event page.
- During the lottery application, you must choose to apply for Regular Vehicle Parking or Large Vehicle Parking. You may choose two dates you would like to attend – your preferred choice and an alternate date.
- Important Dates for the 2020 Firefly Lottery for Parking Confirmation:
- Wednesday, April 22, 2020 Event dates announced
- FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. ET: Lottery for Vehicle Passes OPENS
- TUESDAY, APRIL 28, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. ET: Lottery for Vehicle Passes CLOSES
Additional Lottery Information
THURSDAY, MAY 07 2020: All lottery applicants will be notified that their application was SUCCESSFUL (and are awarded vehicle parking confimation ) or UNSUCCESSFUL (and were not awarded vehicle parking confirmation)
**Lottery winners will be charged a $1.00 application fee. Successful applicants will automatically be awarded parking passes and $24.00 will be charged to the same credit or debit card used for the application fee.(collected on Recreation.gov) to help cover the cost of viewing supplies, and nightly personnel to manage the viewing opportunity at Sugarlands Visitor Center and Elkmont. More information will be available in the park’s news release when it becomes available regarding the lottery for parking confirmation
What to Bring
The National Parks has created this list of what equipment and rules that you will need to follow for the events viewing. Flashlights disrupt the fireflies and impair people’s night vision. The light show is best when you:
- Cover your flashlight with red or blue cellophane.
- Use your flashlight only when walking to your viewing spot.
- Point your flashlight at the ground.
- Turn off your flashlight when you find your viewing spot.
- You can also help protect the fireflies and their habitat:
- Do not catch the fireflies.
- Stay on the trail at all times.
- Pack out all of your garbage.
- A chair for you to sit and watch the wonder
- If you are photographing the event, please be mindful of the visitors and do not block their view
- Please keep your pets at home
- Watch your children, it is dark and they can get lost
- Be on time, the bus will not wait for you
- Register the correct size parking space for your vehicle
- Stay on all the marked paths, do not wander off
- Bring bug spray
Timing is Everything
Nature’s light show happens traditionally between the third week in May through the third week in June. During the full moon, the fireflies will come out later at night. On the new moon, they will start sparkling earlier in the evening. If rain should happen or a misty condition is in the area, the fireflies will come out much later in the evening. To learn more about the life cycle and what the flashing lights mean, click on this link to Firefly Conservation & Research. https://www.firefly.org/facts-about-fireflies.html