Annual Gathering

Convening each year near summer solstice's full moon near Asheville, NC

The Firefly Gathering is a community based nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing the skills and ideologies that help us to live abundantly and harmoniously with each other and Earth. In a time of disconnection, industrial specialization, environmental injury, social iniquities, and rapid climate change, we believe it is of the utmost importance to adapt the way we live to not only survive in the changing world around us, but to thrive within our contributions to the human experience. 

Each year, around 1,000 people from diverse nationalities, faiths, political viewpoints and backgrounds convene from around the globe at Firefly for a multi-day gathering. Here folks get a taste of life in community—where people experience a shared culture centered around learning traditional skills, preserving ancestral knowledge, living peacefully and productively with each other—all towards the goal of meeting our needs and living well, without exploiting Earth.

Over the course of the gathering, nearly 100 teachers of assorted ages and backgrounds offer over 300 classes ranging from bow-making and hide-tanning, to herbal medicine and food preservation, to nonviolent communication, healing arts, equity work and environmental remediation. The evenings are filled with music, dancing, drum circles, spoken word, song circles, art and more. We also have a variety of programs for children ages 3 to 18, which are centered around nature connection and learning skills, while building beautiful memories in community. For many, coming to The Firefly Gathering is a life changing experience. 

Classes

The Firefly Gathering believes that becoming a fully empowered human being, who is equipped to thrive with Earth, takes a lot of skills! That’s why we offer such a wide & diverse range of classes. We also believe that through creation–the act of making something with our hands–we experience great satisfaction, connection, empowerment and joy! Our classes change each year, but many are repeated again and again. To get an idea of what classes are offered, please look at our 2019 class schedule here.

Our classes offer the opportunity to touch, see, smell, hear and fall in love with the natural world. They offer connection to community, an integral part of being human, which can be challenging in the modern world. They combine the wisdom and skills our ancestors cultivated with modern understandings of our world to shape better ways of living together on this planet.

Many of our topics reach deep into our ancestral lineages. We offer classes on fire craft, herbal medicine, storytelling, foraging, flint knapping, basketry, cordage, hide tanning, bow making, and more. Older than written word, these ancient and unifying skills were developed and used all over the globe. When possible, we honor the origin of the skills that have been passed down to us, in thanks to the generations of people who’ve kept them.

Modern skills, conversations and appropriate technology also have their place, as humans are consistently learning and adapting. Firefly appreciates contemporary approaches when they help us live well and align with our values. You might find a class on environmental remediation with fungus, safe chainsaw operation, animal care and sustainable agriculture, NVC, solar power, decolonization and racial justice, bicycle repair and much more.

Most of our classes combine elements of old and new. Among these you’ll encounter topics like timber framing, blacksmithing, permaculture, natural building, organic gardening, wood carving, food preservation and fermentation, healing arts, fiber arts, tiny house design, and more.

Whether you are looking for personal growth, a deeper connection to nature and your ancestors, healthy global ecosystems, a sustainable future for humans, wilderness survival, farmsteading, or a fun thing to do with loved ones, Firefly has a class for you!

event details

Sacred Land

The 2022 Gathering will once again be at Deerfields in Mills River, NC. We hosted our first event there in 2019, and were profoundly touched by the beauty of this sacred land. Traditional lands of the Cherokee People, with two spring-fed freshwater lakes, meandering creeks, and beautiful hiking trails that weave through mature and diverse forests, Deerfields is locally known and loved by many. Firefly is honored to return and be able to invite you to gather with us there again.

There is an abundance of great camping at Deerfields, everything from car camping, to flat grassy open fields, to hidden wooded getaways. Deerfields is just 30 minutes south of Asheville, and offers a truly beautiful location for us to share and grow together.  Come enjoy over 900 acres of wildness!

Evenings

At Firefly, we relish our evenings together, recognizing the need to integrate the experiences of the day, as well as take our connections deeper. We sing along with Doug Elliott as he tells his tales and plays a fierce harmonica. We sway to Rising Appalachia as they weave us in a cocoon of beauty, connection and mystery.  We dance ecstatically around the fire, under the stars, to ancient beats played out on skin drums. We play old-timey music and sing traditional Appalachian folk songs. We gather and sing earth centered anti-oppression heart songs.  We have amazing conversations. Often we spend time going deeper with those special friends we only see here, at our gathering. We make connections that last a lifetime.

We also goof around! We boff with Phil, we hang out and juggle and practice acro yoga. We square dance and speed date.  We hold very sweet and intentional sharing circles, mead circles, grief circles. And we will be bringing more fun things to 2021, including nature based art installations, a community variety show, a parade and more! Come and be part of the magic.

Youth Programs

Firefly’s Youth Village is a safe haven for children to come and immerse themselves in the beauty of nature. The village is staffed by loving and able adults whose passion is to awaken and inspire the innate curiosity of each child. Through songs and stories, arts and crafts, and games and adventures, your children will have a deep and meaningful experience that will ground them in the natural world, while inspiring their hearts and minds. Most kids leave Youth Village with hugs and hopes of coming back next year!

We have groups for all ages, starting from 3 to 4 (must be potty trained) to 12. Kids are encouraged to participate in their age group, do crafts, hike, romp and enjoy age appropriate activities. This offers parents a supported way of attending classes themselves.

Teen Camp is not a class, but a place where teens aged 13-17 can gather and be listened to, supported, and mentored. Teens create their own community to work on projects, share food, sing, play games, and hang out. The Teen Camp is staffed by experienced mentors, and we strive to create a safe space where our young adults can be themselves and gather with other teens. Teens will be encouraged to attend regularly scheduled classes by day, and to enjoy the wide array of amazing folks who teach at Firefly. In the evenings, teens will be able to have their own hang-out zone around their own fire. Come and create memories, and make friends to last a lifetime!

 

attend

Energetic Exchange

Income from ticket sales at the Firefly Gathering goes towards land use fees and facilities, paying staff and instructors, equipment and supplies, and creating a beautiful experience for you while you are with us. Thank you for supporting our event by attending. Without you, Firefly would not be possible.

If funding is a challenge for you, please consider applying to be a worktrader; applications will be open in Spring 2022. You can also read about our Equity Fund to determine if you might be eligible to receive a discounted or fully supported experience at Firefly. Applications will open in Spring 2022, as well.

 

Teach

One way to connect with the Firefly Community is to offer your skills and wisdom through teaching. The Firefly Gathering is honored to work with so many skilled instructors over the years, who offer an abundance of classes spanning a broad range of topics, skills, and perspectives. We seek out local masters in each field who are excited to come and share the skills and knowledge that they have refined over years of study, practice, and instruction.

Our goal is to offer a wide range of classes that share skills to connect us to the land and our cohabitants, to ourselves and one another, and to our ancestors and our future generations.

We hold space for new and upcoming instructors each year to balance our seasoned, well-known instructors. This mixes up the courses provided and adds new and exciting approaches to age old concepts. To apply to share a class, please fill out our New Teacher Form so we can get to know you!

Equity Fund

To be inclusive and accessible, The Firefly Gathering has an Equity Fund to support individuals from communities who, due to systemic oppression, have otherwise not been able to attend events of this kind. We offer this support with the hopes to foster a strong and powerful diverse community of earth-centered people steeped in the knowledge and skills that Firefly has to offer, who in turn can work in their own greater communities, sharing the knowledge and skills they have learned with others. We also welcome the wisdom that comes into our gathering from these participants. To learn more about our Equity Fund, please click here.

Work-trade & Volunteer Opportunities

In an effort to make The Firefly Gathering more accessible to more people, we offer discounted tickets for those who wish to help us create the magic and organize the event. We call these Worktrade Passes, which can discount half to most of the ticket price. Plus, being part of our set up or break down crew is such an awesome way to connect with the community and get to know people and become an integral part of the fun!  We believe that everyone should have access to these crucial skills and knowledge, and seek to create as many supported avenues into our event as possible.  

The Worktrade Application will be available in Spring 2022.

The Firefly Gathering also relies on the community support that it has nurtured for more than a decade. And so we often crowdsource when we need a hand, or want to offer support to others. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, please click here.

Cancellation Policy

For information on cancelling, our credit policy and transferring tickets, please click here.

registration

How do I get a ticket for the Firefly Gathering?

Sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of any page and we’ll let you know when registration is open for our next gathering. Can’t wait that long? Check out our Perennial Events here.

FAQ

June 7-12, 2022. Tickets will be available January 2022. 

The Firefly Gathering believes that the skills and ideas shared here should be accessible to as many people as possible. Therefore, we offer a number of ways to attend our event.  If you want to come, but can’t afford the ticket please consider applying for worktrade, which is a fun way to get involved from within the gathering! Read more about specific jobs here; worktrade applications will be available Spring 2022, so please check back.  Scholarships are also available through our scholarship program, which was designed to help make our event more accessible to a wider group of people. You can read more about our scholarship program here; applications for the scholarship program will also be available in Spring 2022.

If you prefer to mail us a check or money order instead of using PayPal, please follow these directions:

  • Go to the Register page.

  • Add your choice of ticket(s) to the cart.

  • When done shopping, click on Proceed to Checkout.

  • Fill out and submit the registration form on the website, so our bookkeeper knows you’re coming.

  • Ignore anything that takes you to PayPal. You can mail your check or money order to: Bookkeeper, Firefly Gathering, PO Box 18758, Asheville, NC 28814

  • Be sure to include your email address with your check, so we can match your check to your online registration form and then send you a payment confirmation and a Welcome Letter.

Firefly does NOT send out tickets — either by email or snail mail. If you receive the Welcome Letter and a PayPal receipt for your ticket purchase, you have been automatically added to our registration list. When you arrive at the gate, please be prepared to identify yourself by the name of the person who did your registration, whether that’s you, your partner, or someone else who arranged for your ticket.

If you’re unable to use your ticket, you have two options:

1) Get credit for future events and classes. The credit is a dollar amount that can be applied towards any ticket (while tickets last) and is not an actual ticket. Credit is valid for 3 years.

2) Transfer your ticket to someone else. 

To receive credit or to transfer your ticket to another person, notify us in writing by email at registration@fireflygathering.org at least 7 days prior to the start of the class or event you’ll miss. No post-deadline requests accepted. 

Email us at registration@fireflygathering.org to redeem your credit. We do not offer refunds. There are no credits for no-shows.

A full pass ticket includes arrival and orientation day on Tuesday, , camping Tuesday night thru Saturday night, and nine class sessions over five days, Wednesday thru Sunday morning. Closing circle will be early Sunday afternoon. This also includes full access to Deerfields, our beautiful land host, with rich mountains, biking trails and fresh clean spring fed lakes to swim in!

All other passes include 2 classes per day and camping between (if multi-day). Admission price does not include meals or the parking fee (where applicable), so bring cash for these things.

Your ticket investment supports our ability to organize and produce The Firefly Gathering. You can learn more about what those expenses are by clicking here to read our Financial Statement.   

Option 1) Satellite Parking – $5 – This field is fairly flat and is located on the left just as you turn onto Watagnee Trail. Once here, you will need to wait for the shuttle to get you and your gear onsite. Alternatively, you can arrange to get picked up by a friend planning to park onsite. This parking lot is free to instructors, worktraders, guests, scholarship recipients, vendors and sponsors.

Option 2) Onsite Parking, charged to every vehicle who drives through the gate.

$10 for any vehicle with passengers, or

$15 for any vehicle with a single driver (please carpool).

The onsite parking field is very close to all three camping fields and is central to the event. Flat parking not guaranteed.

Option 3) Onsite Car Camping – $15 additional fee (upgrade from Onsite Parking) – for a premium spot where you can either sleep in your car (in a nice flat spot) or set up your camp right next to your car.

Whether you are looking for a ride or have seats to fill, we invite you to use our ride sharing page to network with other Firefly Gathering attendees for traveling arrangements both to get you there and get you back home. Check out our carpooling page to connect.

Class sign up happens at the event.. There are two class sessions per day (morning and afternoon). Sign-up sheets are located at Firefly Central on the bulletin boards, starting around 7 pm the night before the day of classes. For example, if you want to take classes on Friday, you sign up for them Thursday evening or Friday morning.

We are not able to reserve spots for certain classes ahead of time. You must be there to put your name on the list or find someone willing to sign you up. If you sign up for a class, but change your mind, please cross off your name so others can fill the spot. If a class is full, you can try to find the instructor and ask for permission to join the class.

Be aware that there may be additions, deletions or schedule changes right up to (and including) the day of classes due to circumstances beyond our control. Please don’t waste time and energy (and paper) trying to print out the entire schedule, since you will get a Gatebook with the most updated version at the event.

Yes. Bring cash with you; there are no ATMs or credit card payment options available at the gathering.

All parking fees will require cash: $5 for offsite parking or $10 for onsite parking and $15 additional for a limited first-come-first-serve onsite car camping spot.

Some classes require fees for materials that the instructors have purchased or spent a lot of time gathering and prepping. You may want to bring some pocket money in case you wish to take any of these classes.

Each year we have a fundraiser for our scholarship program the following year. This typically takes the form of a raffle and a silent auction full of spectacular and useful items. You won’t want to miss out.

You will also want cash on hand to check out our instructors crafts, books, and other items for sale. These craft sales are an additional way we can appreciate our instructors and take something wonderful, useful, and educational home with us.

In addition we will have food vendors selling food at all meal times.

Meals are not provided. There will be a community kitchen with sink, propane stoves and food-preparation tables located near the camping areas. We also have a primitive kitchen (stocked with appropriate cooking implements), which is set up for cooking with fire only. You can of course bring your own propane stove to cook on.

Yes! There will be food vendors on-site selling breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack foods, and beverages.

There will be spring and well water available on site. Be sure to bring a water bottle and hat, as the sun can be strong and dehydration is a serious concern. Please make sure your young’uns have a water bottle of their own or at least have frequent access to drinking water, and are adequately protected from the sun.

We expect everyone to clean up after themselves and each other, both during the event and when packing up to leave. We want to see the same beautiful land after the event as it was before, unmarred by the human footprint. Pack it in, pack it out!

We have an abundance of field space and forested areas available for camping! Whether you like tent or hammock camping and want to set-up near or far from downtown, there are many options to choose from.

This year we have three large camping areas: Family, Quiet and Loud. Each of these have full-to-partial shade and are very close to parking. There is also abundant woods camping surrounding the event in all directions. Woods camping will require more traveling with your gear, but will be well worth the trek.

Please pack your gear in such a way that you can easily walk it in to your camping site. We recommend backpacks, duffel bags, Rubbermaid containers, and wagons or rolling carts with off-road tires. Once you arrive and register, you will be directed to enter our event location and park. You will have received a Gatebook and a map of the premises so you can explore your options, choose your camping spot, and transport your gear to where you want to set up your tent.

You can get pretty close if you choose to pay for onsite parking (only $10).

All camping fields are directly adjacent to our Parking field. Please do not drive onto any of the camping fields. Quiet and Family camping fields also have a gear drop off point at their edge. This gear drop off is ONLY for unloading or loading gear.

There is a limited amount of car camping available onsite (for an additional $15). These areas are NOT designated quiet or loud, as our adjacent fields are. As such, please come prepared to befriend your neighbor and be considerate with your nighttime noise.

While you may want to stay forever, all campers are asked to pack up and leave by dusk on Sunday evening. There is no Sunday-night camping unless you would like to help us break down on Monday. If you are interested in sticking around to help, we would love to have you. Be warned, you will be put to work!     
Yes! But you must have an adult over 18 who is attending and designated as being responsible for you during the event. Unfortunately, if you are under 18 years old at the time of the event you cannot attend without supervision. 
Dogs are not allowed at Firefly. This is a Deerfields policy and is non-negotiable. Exceptions are only made for true service dogs with all documentation provided.       

Yes. The First-Aid Tent is staffed with trained medical personnel who practice both conventional and alternative medicine. If you need assistance at any time, many of our administrative staff members will be carrying walkie-talkies. Just ask for help, and it will arrive quickly. The First-Aid Tent also has phone numbers and directions to medical facilities in the area.

Firefly does its best to make accommodations for people with physical disabilities. We are a primitive skills gathering, and much of what we do and where we camp has a primitive quality about it. The terrain is not paved. If it rains, the grounds will likely get muddy and most pathways are gravel.

We do not allow any vehicles on the actual premises, except for a few Firefly utility vehicles. Even Firefly staff members park in the general lots. Of course, we will allow temporary vehicles and will also arrange utility-vehicle rides around the grounds to the best of our ability.

If you need to recharge a wheelchair battery, we have limited electric outlets available when the food trucks aren’t using them (generally overnight). Please check with the site manager.

Both spring fed lakes on Deerfields property are great for swimming. All swimming is at your own risk. There will be NO lifeguards posted or safety supervision provided at anytime by Firefly staff or volunteers.

We ask for folks to swim clothed at all times at the upper pond, as it is near the center of the event and in view of family camping. The lower pond is clothing optional.

No fishing allowed.

Port-a-potties will be available in various convenient locations around the grounds. These will be freshened and stocked daily.

We do not provide showers. Often, we find that swimming in one of the lakes is refreshing enough. If you like or need to stand under warm falling water, we encourage you to bring a solar shower bag (available online or at camping stores for as little as $20).

All burning fires must be attended at all times and must have a fire extinguisher and bucket of water at the ready. Fires are allowed only in fire locations marked on the map or in well-established fire rings. No private fires allowed. 

Yes! Mills River is only a 30-minute drive from the local “metropolis” of Asheville (population 80,000) as well as Hendersonville and Brevard. In each of these towns many accommodations of all shapes, sizes, and flavors can be found.

There is no such thing as bad weather, just unprepared people. Firefly Gathering is held rain or shine. There is no provision for a rain date, and no refunds are given on account of inclement weather.

No! There is no cell service or WiFi available at Deerfields. Your devices will not work. Plan to enjoy being disconnected from the internet web and reconnected to the in-person web.

Please keep track of your things during the event and take them back home with you. If you lose track of something while you’re there, check our Lost and Found.

If you realize you left something of value when you return home, contact us to see if we found it. We will hold found items for one week after the event. Unclaimed items will be given a new home.

Contact us by clicking here to email us or calling us at 828-202-9469 and we’ll be happy to assist you.