Synchronous Fireflies at Congaree: Witness the Spectacular Spring Phenomenon May 16-25

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If you've never witnessed the once-a-year phenomenon of synchronous fireflies at Congaree National Park, here's your chance to get a front row seat.

Speaking of front row seats…your pups will want to call shotgun on the way to these dog-friendly beaches in the Carolinas. Can you guess which ones are most welcoming to canine friends?

Charlotte's hottest food festivals rival the scorching summer sun. We're giving you a chance to enter to win FREE ticket to not just one…not just two…not just three…but FIVE/all of them!

When you're ready to cool off, head to the Weaverville NC for the ultimate summer mountain retreat. The last weekend of April is the best time of the year to visit, thanks to the Weaverville Art Safari.

New festival alert: The NC Ground Steak Festival in Dobson, NC takes place Saturday, June 8 and features 75+ artisans and crafters, bluegrass and old-time string music, and children’s games and activities.

Stay up to date with the best rare and unexplained phenomena, food-focused festivals, and summer bucket list items; follow us on Facebook, where we regularly offer free tickets and other giveaways, and make sure to become a 2024 subscriber to Carolina Traveler magazine!

synchronous fireflies viewing at Congaree National Park

Synchronous Fireflies: Enter To Win The Lottery To Witness This SC Phenomenon

In the expansive realm of firefly species, with over 2,000 varieties worldwide, only three species of synchronous fireflies grace North America's landscapes. Annually, between mid-May and mid-June, Congaree National Park hosts a remarkable spectacle: the synchronous fireflies viewing. For approximately two weeks, visitors are treated to a mesmerizing display of synchronized flashing as these luminous insects seek their mates.

This extraordinary event garners immense popularity, drawing enthusiasts from far and wide. Here's what you need to know about this year's viewing opportunity at Congaree National Park: the dates are set for May 16-25, and passes are essential for park entry during the event. To ensure the preservation of critical firefly habitats and to optimize visitor experiences, passes are allocated through a lottery system.

Starting at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 4, the pass lottery opens and will run for one week, closing at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 10. Applicants can submit their entry, limited to one per household, through the online lottery portal. A nominal non-refundable service fee of $1 will be charged upon entry into the lottery. Successful applicants will be notified by Tuesday, April 16 and required to secure their pass with the remaining $24 event fee, totaling $25.

With only 145 synchronous fireflies passes available per event night, securing yours early is paramount. For further inquiries about this year's event, feel free to reach out to us via email. Don't miss your chance to witness nature's dazzling spectacle at Congaree National Park's Synchronous Fireflies Viewing Event!


boy plays with dog on the beach

What's better than digging in the sand than having your best friend by your side?!

Best Beaches in the Carolinas

If you read our most recent Best Beaches of the Carolinas guide in the 2024 spring magazine, you know we showed major love to Emerald Isle, NC and Isle of Palms, SC. But what other beaches welcome pups with open arms?

Read up on some of the other best dog-friendly beaches in North Carolina, including:

  • Corolla
  • Duck
  • Carolina Beach
  • Topsail Beach

In South Carolina, these dog-friendly beaches have all the pups barking:

  • Myrtle Beach
  • Hilton Head Island
  • Hunting Island State Park


Win a Charlotte festival passport

There's never been a better time to become a VIP subscriber!

New Promo Alert: Get FREE Entry to Five Festivals in 2024!

While you have to enter a lottery for chance to witness the synchronous fireflies in Congaree, your odds of getting a free pass to the hottest food festivals in Charlotte just got way easier! Now's your chance to enter to win FREE tickets to not one…not two…not three…but FIVE (all) food festivals, all in the Queen City in 2024!

Here's a teaser of what you get to experience at three of the festivals that take place over the course of a year:

April 20: Wine & Food Festival Ballantyne Experience an idyllic afternoon at Ballantyne’s Backyard, cherished by over 100,000 guests in Charlotte. Indulge in culinary delights with renowned chefs showcasing their signature dishes in the Tasting Theater. Savor a plethora of wines, beers, and spirits in an All-You-Care-To-Taste format, accompanied by lively music from ‘Trial By Fire – a tribute to Journey' and ‘Mallow Hill.' Upgrade to the VIP Experience for exclusive perks like access to the Champagne Lounge, extended sampling hours, souvenir items, and VIP amenities. Don't miss this opportunity for a memorable day of food, drinks, and entertainment in a delightful ambiance.

May 18: Charlotte Beer Bourbon & BBQ Return to the beloved setting of Ballantyne’s Backyard for Charlotte’s premier event: the Beer Bourbon & BBQ Festival. This 17th annual celebration promises a true Southern experience, featuring beer, bourbon, barbeque, live music, and more. Admission grants a souvenir glass for unlimited beer and bourbon tastings, with the iconic Shrine of Swine showcasing whole hogs and surprises. VIP Admission offers extended sampling hours, a BBQ Dinner Plate, exclusive lounge access, and live entertainment. Indulge in seminars with industry experts, groove to live bands, and explore a variety of brewerania, hot sauces, and BBQ accessories. Don’t miss out on this day of indulgence and entertainment!

Aerial view of Weaverville NC

Aerial shot of Weaverville NC at sunset | Photo credit @curvetheory (Instagram)

Make Your Summer Mountain Escape To Weaverville, NC

Tap into your creative side at the spring Weaverville Art Safari, happening April 27-28, 2024, from 10AM to 5PM! It's a self-guided driving tour through the heart of Western NC's artistic community, and one of the longest-running studio tours in the Asheville area, at that!

Dive into a world of inspiration and discovery as you wander through the picturesque Weaverville landscape, where every corner holds the promise of artistic wonder. Meet the brilliant minds behind the masterpieces and enjoy their most recent works of art. Your next piece of conversation-provoking art might be waiting for you at the Weaverville Art Safari! 🎨 View our Weaverville NC day trip itinerary


2024 NC Ground Steak Festival advertisement

NC Knows How To “Raise The Steaks”

Mark your calendars and fire up your appetites for the ultimate celebration of flavor at the North Carolina Ground Steak Festival! Join us on Saturday, June 8, 2024, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., right in the heart of downtown Dobson.

This sizzling event, proudly hosted by the Dobson Tourism Development Authority, pays homage to the legendary ground steak – a mouthwatering creation born from the depths of the Great Depression. Picture it: succulent, melt-in-your-mouth goodness that'll have your taste buds dancing!

At the historic courthouse square, indulge in delectable ground steak sandwiches from Dobson's own Central Café, a renowned stop on the Surry Ground Steak Trail. Don't miss the Flat Rock Ruritan Club's famous rendition, a highlight at the Autumn Leaves Festival in nearby Mount Airy.

With over 75 artisans and crafters showcasing their talents, the festival promises a feast for the senses. Tap your toes to the rhythm of bluegrass and old-time string music, while the little ones enjoy a day packed with games and activities.

Gather your crew and get ready to taste, explore, and celebrate the rich, meaty flavors and traditions of North Carolina. See you at the grill! Learn more🍔

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