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Phish plan Dover music festival for summer 2024

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Phish Dover Woodlands Delaware festival

Phish, the long-running jam band, will bring a multi-day festival to Dover next summer, drawing tens of thousands of fans. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DAN SHINNEMAN/FLICKR

DOVER – Phish, the long-running band known for their quirky antics, expansive song library and improvisational jams, are coming to the First State next summer, and likely bringing tens of thousands of fans with them.

In a social media posting Tuesday, the band teased that fans should save the dates of Aug. 15 to 18, 2024, for their next festival at The Woodlands in Dover.

The appearance by Phish would mark their 11th multi-day festival curated by the Vermont band in its 40-year history. Its last festival, named Magnaball, took place in Watkins Glen, N.Y., in 2015, drawing about 30,000 fans over three days.

While a perennial mainstay at amphitheaters and arenas in the Philadelphia area, Phish has not played in Delaware since 1994, when the then-young band played the Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware. Since then, only a solo performance by singer and guitarist Trey Anastasio at the Grand Opera House in 2018 has graced a Delaware stage – meaning interest in the Delaware festival could be high.

Other festivals in Phish history have drawn as many as an estimated 85,000 fans, and with eight years and a global pandemic having passed since the last festival, fans may turn out in droves.

Details are scarce for the summer 2024 festival right now, with info on tickets, camping, RV parking and travel packages coming this fall, according to the band’s announcement, which instructed fans to connect via its website at phish.com/update.

The four-day event at The Woodlands would be a welcome sign for state and county tourism officials, as the future of Delaware’s most prominent music event, the Firefly Music Festival, remains undetermined.

After a decade-long run at the outdoor venue adjacent to the Dover International Speedway, drawing around 50,000 fans annually, festival organizer AEG Presents did not hold Firefly this year, saying it was going to “take a year to recharge our lights.” While it said Firefly would return in 2024, no announcement for next year has been made – although in prior years announcements of dates were made in November.

AEG has not responded to a Delaware Business Times inquiry about the future of Firefly.

Dover businesses are also still contending with the loss of one of the city’s NASCAR races, after the owner of the Monster Mile moved its second race of the season to another track in Nashville that it owns. In one sign of the possible impact, most hotels in the Dover area are already fully booked for the Aug. 15 to 18 period, according to online searches.

Jessica Welch, state tourism director for Delaware, said that her office has been discussing the festival with AEG for a few months, specifically to identify the necessary hotel room blocks that the promoter and band could sell as a part of ticket packages.

“We’ve been trying to connect them to hotels in Dover and in New Castle and Sussex counties so they can make the necessary plans,” she said, noting she didn’t know when Phish tickets may go on sale and that AEG hadn’t updated her on any plans for Firefly in 2024.

The state tourism office will have a booth at the Phish festival and will likely help to promote the event leading up to next August, although any firm strategies how marketing around it have not yet been developed, Welch said.

“This is great for Delaware and great for tourism. We’re always looking to put heads in beds and this festival will do just that,” she said, noting that she has a relative who is a big Phish fan who travels to shows. “Their fans will definitely show up and they’ll make it a really great event.”

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