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How to Hack Your Way through Firefly 2017

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This time next week, thousands of tank-topped, flower-headed young people will have already descended on our comparatively sleepy state capital. Firefly 2017 is nearly here.

If this is your first-ever Firefly experience, check out 10 Tips for Firefly Newbies for practical advice on festival life—from footwear to hygiene and beyond.

But for newbs and veterans alike, consider this your 200-level coursework: insider tips, tricks and hacks for making the most of your Firefly weekend. Below we’ve assembled some hidden and not-so-hidden oases where you can indulge in free food, replenishing drinks, air conditioning, unique perks, and other amenities—all from the Woodlands next weekend.

The freebies

Between the upscale food items at The Hub, the boutique offerings at The Market, and mountains of swag from the merch table, there are options galore for emptying your wallet at Firefly. (Speaking of wallets, don’t forget that Firefly is going cashless this year.) But there are ways to enjoy the good life on the cheap. Keep on the lookout for vendors offering free samples. Here are just a few others:

  • Firefly organizers Red Frog Events wrangled sandwich giants Subway as a corporate partner in 2017, and next week they’ll debut the Green Room, featuring free mini-sandwiches, AC, and a giant LED live stream of the main stage, charging stations, and rotating DJ and acoustic sets.
  • Always a hot commodity, the official Firefly bandana can only be found at the Toyota Music Den. The 2017 edition was designed and approved by Firefly fans.
  • Gather by the Bud Light Gathering Tree, a new woodsy-themed art installation near the Main Stage. Beyond frosty beers, the shaded lounge will offer charging stations and interactive events where fans can win mystery prizes from mason jars hanging inside the “tree”—think unique festival wearables, accessories and tchotchkes.  
  • The Malibu Beach House, a new addition in 2016, is not only a place for rum-infused dance fuel—it’s also one of the few spots around boasting free Wi-Fi.

The lap of luxury

If a VIP pass isn’t in your budget, don’t sweat it. If you play your cards right, you can treat yo’-self and live the high life during Firefly weekend,

  • Stop by the Batiste Hair in the North Camping Hub for some travel-sized samples of dry shampoo, then stick around to have your now-non-filthy hair braided or styled.
  • Visit rookie vendors Fresh Coast Kitchen, smoothie specialists who provide hilariously named drinks to revitalize your damaged bod, like the T-Pain, Mo Gain.
  • Consider dropping a couple bucks to upgrade to the new Spruce Up Package. For $79, get access to upgraded, private showers, air-conditioned restrooms, towels and a lounge equipped with tables, chairs, mirrors and power. It’s a fair price to pay for not having to wash your face in melted cooler water.
  • Metallic-looking “flash tattoos” were all the rage at the 2016 fest, and until something trendier unseats them, they’ll be back at the Malibu Beach House.
  • From chicken and waffle sandwiches at Southern Soul to truffle burgers and duck-fat fries at Wise Burger, there are myriad ways to indulge in the Woodlands. Our pick for munchie-induced breakout star of 2017: s’mores nachos courtesy of all-dessert connoisseurs Sweet Tooth.
  • Delaware faves Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is back and better than ever this year. Beyond their rotating cast of taps—including the festival exclusive Firefly Ale—check out beermosas (beer mimosas, obvs) spiked with Festina Peche or Namaste ales.
  • A four-day music festival can take its toll on the body. Stretch it out with morning yoga sessions, available at both hubs starting at 9 a.m.

Karma

Firefly doesn’t have to be all about you. Longtime charity partners St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has returned and fan fundraising efforts have produced major results. Help keep the momentum going.

  • Visit the St. Jude Coffee Bar near the South Hub, where you can refuel while engaging with St. Jude’s work and mission. Enter raffles to win autographs and memorabilia from Firefly artists.
  • St. Jude is just one of many nonprofit vendors who will appear at Charity Village. Be sure to peruse in the South Hub and connect with more ways to give back.

Timing is everything

So much of a music festival weekend (and life in general) relies on being in the right place at the right time: Like getting front-row center for the Weeknd, or witnessing that hilarious crowd-surfing attempt gone awry. Here are some ways to cheat lady luck.

  • Keep your eyes, ears and cell phones out for The Rambler, a new traveling stage mounted on a truck that will be roaming around the festival and in campsites throughout the weekend, bringing impromptu performances from up-and-coming artists on the road.
  • Get inside the festival gates early to stake out your spot for your favorite artists AND to take advantage of Happy Hours specials courtesy of Bud Light. Between noon-2 p.m., buy Bud Light for a dollar off, or grab a six-pack in a special carrying case for deeper discounts.  
  • Subway is doubling down on the free carbs throughout the weekend, with mysterious “midnight cookie runs” promised throughout the campsites late at night.
  • Speaking of late night, be sure to stick around past the headliner at least one night to witness the glow stick-fueled frenzy of the EDM crowd. Even if electro-dance music isn’t your thing, the crazed, communal vibe is a sight to behold.

Off the beaten path

Sure, you can day drinking with your camp buddies and line up at the main stage each day. But why not switch the style up by exploring some of the newer and quieter corners of Firefly?

  • Cornhole, beer pong and even spikeball—all great options for campsite amusement. But consider stretching your legs, showing off your summer bod and meeting some new friends at the inaugural Firefly intramural sports leagues, happening daily across four fields near the North Hub. Registration is open now for teams and individuals in ultimate Frisbee, soccer, kickball and more.  
  • Check out the new fan-designed attraction known only as The Fort. It may be far from the main stage, but it does offer eye-catching murals, yard games, food trucks and raised platforms that provide an eagle-eyed view of the Lawn and Porch stages.
  • There’s no doubting the firepower of Firefly’s A-list headliners. But some of the most special and unique performances tend to unfold throughout the weekend at the handful of smaller, intimate stages. Venues like the Northeast and Southwest Hubs, the Pavilion, the Porch Stage and the Coffeehouse Stage offer up-and-coming artists, stripped-down sets from top-line performers and more. Check out the new Northeast Rising Showcase, where unsigned regional acts ranging from DJs, rock outfits and hip-hoppers will strut their stuff.

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