Synchronous fireflies

Grandfather Glows: Firefly Viewing

Research on Grandfather Mountain has confirmed the presence of 10 species of fireflies or luminous insects, including synchronous fireflies (Photinus carolinus), blue ghost fireflies (Phausis reticulata) and glowworms (Orfelia feltoni). Synchronous fireflies are habitat specialists and thrive in northern hardwood forests, such as those found at Grandfather Mountain.

These glowing wonders only appear for a few weeks each year. Our annual Grandfather Glows events open our nature park for three nights during late June to early July for the forecasted peak times for special bioluminescent evenings, weather and conditions permitting.

Grandfather Glows Events

Each of the three event dates have the same schedule, lasting approximately four hours (7 – 11 p.m.).

Grandfather Glows begins in MacRae Meadows with educational programs led by the park’s naturalists and then transitions up to the viewing area in the park before dark. This event is a “viewing” event, so please expect to find a spot in the designated viewing area and plan to be there for the event. It is understood that you may need to use the restroom (we will have porta potties onsite) and you may be encouraged by staff to visit certain areas to see something interesting at times – but, in general, the less movement people make, the better the chances to see a good show from the fireflies.

Red-light flashlights will be provided, and guests should come prepared for cool weather and with appropriate footwear for an evening on the mountain. Guests are also encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets and to be prepared for a variety of the mountain’s weather conditions. Food and drinks are permitted, though alcohol is prohibited.

Pets are not allowed, and flash photography is prohibited. Attendees will be provided with a more detailed set of rules and firefly viewing etiquette prior to their event.

Wheelchair Accessibility + Viewing Area for Those With Limited Mobility

We are excited to share that the event is accessible for those in a wheelchair. Once shuttled up to the viewing area, individuals in wheelchairs are allowed to go as far up the park road into the viewing area as they would like. Please note, the road is on an incline, so wheelchairs may need some assistance to move up the road. There will be an area designated for those with limited mobility at the bottom of the viewing area, near where shuttles drop off and pick up.

Event participants will have the option of walking to the viewing area from MacRae Meadows (approximately 300 yards of walking) or taking a shuttle. The firefly viewing area is located on a quarter-mile section of the park’s road. Staff will be roving the viewing area to provide additional educational opportunities.

Important Info for 2024

Grandfather Glows has received a lot of attention and interest in its first two years. To better manage that interest and create a smoother registration process, Grandfather Mountain will be instituting a lottery system for tickets starting this year. Please note: We will sell tickets to the event to lottery winners at a per-person rate. “Winners” will able to purchase a maximum of six tickets.

Grandfather Glows Event Dates

Friday, June 28 (rain date of Saturday, June 29)
Sunday, June 30 (rain date of Monday, July 1)
Tuesday, July 2 (rain date of Wednesday, July 3)

Learn more about what goes in to trying to predict the timing of this natural phenomenon here.

Important Dates

May 20 – May 27: The 2024 Grandfather Glows lottery is open. The link to enter will be posted on this page.

  • The lottery will be open from 12 a.m. May 20 to 11:59 p.m. on May 27, Eastern Time.
  • Entries are per person and will be $5, plus tax.
  • You do not need to worry about selecting your preferred event date during the initial lottery process.
  • Only one entry per email address is allowed. Our system will not allow you to enter the same email address more than once.

May 29: The first round of “winners” will be notified and will be given a link to purchase tickets. There will be a four-day window to make your purchase. After that window, your opportunity is gone. If you are selected as a “winner” when the lottery ends, you will have the opportunity to purchase up to six tickets. This could be six tickets for one night or six tickets split up across the three different nights. Please note that the available tickets for each of the three nights are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

June 4: The second round of “winners” will be notified and will be given a link to purchase tickets. There will be a four-day window to make your purchase. After that window, your opportunity is gone. If you are selected as a “winner” when the lottery ends, you will have the opportunity to purchase up to six tickets. This could be six tickets for one night or six tickets split up across the three different nights. Please note that the available tickets for each of the three nights are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

June 17: A third round of “winners” will be notified and will be given a link to purchase tickets. (This round was not originally announced.) There will be a two and a half-day window to make your purchase. After that window, your opportunity is gone. If you are selected as a “winner” when the lottery ends, you will have the opportunity to purchase up to six tickets. Please note, tickets are very limited at this point and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The June 28 event is sold out and we do expect the other dates to sell out during this round.

Please note: There will be no waiting lists for these events. We advise that people do not purchase tickets from a source other than Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation as we cannot verify the validity of those tickets.

Ticketholder-Requested Refunds/Cancellations
If you cannot attend the event that you registered for, please let us know. Full refunds will be given to individuals who reach out to us at least seven days before their event.

Event tickets are transferable. If a ticketholder cannot attend their event or utilize all of their tickets, they are permitted to pass them along to others.

No refunds will be granted for the $5 lottery entry fee, at any time.

Rain Dates

Please Read and Make Sure You Understand This Important Info

We will once again offer a “rain date” for each event date. If Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation cancels an event due to adverse weather or conditions, a rain date will be provided immediately following the event date.

For example, if you are interested in the June 28 Grandfather Glows event, you need to make sure your schedule is open both June 28 AND June 29. The event will be scheduled for June 28, and we will make every effort to have the event that date.

However, if a forecast of adverse weather conditions threatens the event, we will make the call (by noon the day of the event) and move the event to the June 29 rain date. No refunds will be issued if you purchase a June 28 ticket but aren’t able to attend the event when it is moved to the June 29 rain date.

Refunds will be issued if Grandfather Mountain has to cancel both your original event date and your rain date.

Pricing for 2024

For those selected from the lottery to purchase tickets, the pricing will be as follows:
Adult: $50
Child: $40
Bridge Club Adult: $25
Bridge Club Child: $20

Children under 4 are free and do not require a ticket, when accompanied by an adult ticketholder.
*The prices above are subject to tax.
*Lottery winners will receive a one-time $5 coupon to use toward their ticket purchase, as a credit for their initial lottery entry.

What’s the Bridge Club? The Bridge Club is Grandfather Mountain’s annual pass/membership program. In addition to providing members with unlimited regular admission to the park for a year, it also offers a number of other benefits, such as discounts on certain special event tickets, including Grandfather Glows.

To purchase Grandfather Glows tickets with a Bridge Club discount, you MUST have an active membership at the time of event ticket purchase. (We will be checking this and verifying each Grandfather Glows Bridge Club ticket purchase. If you purchase a Grandfather Glows ticket at the Bridge Club rate and are not an active Bridge Club member, we will cancel your Grandfather Glows tickets and a refund will be issued to you.)

If you have an active INDIVIDUAL Bridge Club membership, you are able to purchase ONE Grandfather Glows ticket at the Bridge Club rate. You can purchase up to six Grandfather Glows tickets TOTAL, but only one can be at the Bridge Club rate.

In order to purchase two to six Grandfather Glows tickets at the Bridge Club rate, you will need to have an active GROUP Bridge Club membership.

Our individual Bridge Club memberships to the park are for one person, while our group Bridge Club memberships are for the “member” plus five people.

To learn more about the Bridge Club and purchase a membership, visit www.grandfather.com/bridge-club

Lottery Details

The lottery allows us to generate winners in a completely random fashion. All lottery entries will be run through software that provides an equal opportunity for selection. This year, we have made the decision to not limit the number of lottery entries within the eight-day time period, though we do have some parameters set up for individuals (one entry per email address). We are limiting the number of tickets available for each of the three events to ensure a great experience for our guests and protect our firefly species and their habitat.

Read more: Firefly Species on Grandfather | Grandfather’s Unique Ecology | Preserving Grandfather

Photo by Jim Magruder | Magruder Photography

Grandfather Mountain | Home to the Swinging Bridge, Animal Habitats and Nature Museum

GPS: 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646
Mailing: PO Box 129, Linville, NC 28646
1-800-468-7325

Owned & operated by Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.
Go here for Grandfather Mountain State Park information.
Member of Southern Highlands Attractions