Synchronous Fireflies at Congaree

Fireflies blink along the forest floor at dusk
Synchronous Fireflies light up the forest at dusk. (NPS Photo)
2019 Synchronous Fireflies Season (Updated May 27, 2019 at 10:00 am)

Fireflies Update:

And that's a wrap on the 2019 Congaree National Park Fireflies Festival. We are so glad to have had so many wonderful visitors come out to the park this year to see this amazing natural light display. Firefly activity continues, but synchronization seems to have come to an end throughout most of the park. We hope to see many of you again, along with many new faces as well, next year when these charismatic little beetles return for another dance in the dark here at the park

Visitor Center Trailhead Closed to Dogs During Festival

Due to the increase of visitors coming out to see the fireflies and crowded conditions around the visitor center and along the Firelies Trail, the Harry Hampton Visitor Center parking area and trailhead will be closed to dogs from 6:00 PM until 10:00 PM. This is for the safety of both your pets and your fellow visitors. Visitors who would like to to come out with their pets and see the synchronous fireflies have the option to see them at the Kingsnake Trailhead, located at the South Cedar Creek Canoe Landing. Synchronized fireflies have been confirmed in good numbers there for visitors to observe and have been putting on quite a show the past few nights.

COMET Shuttle Service Memorial Day Weekend

The park will be piloting a new shuttle service for this years Fireflies Festival on May 24 through May 26. The shuttles will be leaving from the South Carolina State Fairgrounds at 908 George Rogers Boulevard (RV Parking area). The first shuttles will leave starting at 7:00 PM (or when full), and return to the fairgrounds at 9:45 PM. Depending on demand, a second round of shuttles will depart the fairgrounds starting at appoximately 8:15 PM, returning at 10:45 PM . Parking will open for those who would like to use the shuttle at 6:30 PM. Fares for the shuttle will be $4 round trip. Riders must be ready to depart the park at the assigned time and are not permitted to skip their time in hopes of a shorter or later stay, as their may not be room for them on the earlier or later departures. Please see the list below of items that you should and should not bring.

2019 Fireflies Festival (May 10-27)
The Harry Hampton Visitor Center will be open until 10:00pm nightly from
Friday, May 10 through Monday, May 27. Please note that the exact date of when the synchronous fireflies will begin is not known. They are normally active during a two to three week period sometime between mid-May and mid-June.
During this year’s event there will be a designated Fireflies Trail, which will give access to prime viewing areas. This one-way trail will start at the Picnic Shelter, go under the elevated Boardwalk and will end at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. Because of the large numbers of participants, the elevated section of the Boardwalk will only be open to those with mobility issues during evening hours.

Because of the large numbers of participants expected for this event, the following are prohibited on the Fireflies Trail:

  • Dogs

  • Strollers

  • Wagons

  • Headlamps

  • Using Smartphones as Flashlights

  • Chairs, hammocks or blankets

  • Flash Photography

  • Smoking/Vaping

  • Applying insect repellant (please apply prior to arriving at the park)

Participants are asked to observe the following viewing etiquette:

  • Keep noise levels to a minimum so that everyone can enjoy this special natural occurrence.

  • Capturing fireflies is not allowed within Congaree National Park.

  • Stay on the designated trail (walking off trail can adversely impact firefly habitat).

  • Wear sturdy, close-toed shoes (roots and biting insects may be present)

  • Only use flashlights when absolutely necessary, pointing them straight down so as to not disturb other participants (Small penlights are recommended).

Other important information about the Fireflies Festival:

  • Parking is very limited. Carpooling is highly recommended.

  • Due to the high volume of vehicles, there will be no RV and oversize vehicle parking during festival hours. Drivers should plan to drop off passengers and have a set time to return to the park to pick them up.

  • Be prepared for the weather. Thunderstorms often occur in the evenings during May.

  • The best time to view the fireflies is just after dark, usually between 9:00pm and 10:00pm.

  • Because of the high volume of visitors, backcountry campers will only be able to access the backcountry via Kingsnake Trail at the South Cedar Creek Canoe Landing. Vehicles of backcountry campers must be parked at the parking lot located at that site. All visitors wishing to camp in the backcountry must have a permit.

  • If you have a specific question not otherwise answered on this page, please e-mail us

  • If you are interested in volunteering at the 2019 Fireflies Festival please e-mail us.

With over 2,000 species found world-wide, there are only three species of synchronous flashing fireflies that can be found in North America. Every year, Congaree National Park hosts synchronous fireflies for approximately two weeks between mid-May and mid-June. During this time visitors can experience an awe-inspiring display of synchronous flashing while the fireflies search for a mate. For information on the scientific research of fireflies at Congaree National Park, be sure to visit the Old Growth Bottomland Forest Research and Education Center's fireflies page.


Last updated: May 27, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

100 National Park Road
Hopkins, SC 29061


(803) 776-4396

Contact Us