Firefly fans flock to the Smokies for a synchronized show

Spectators organize ahead of the natural light show.
Spectators organize ahead of the natural light show.

GATLINBURG (WATE) – They packed into the park, ready to sit through the rain for an evening they’d never forget.

“This is a natural light show,” said park visitor David Sligh.

Sligh and his wife, Marie, came all the way from the Dallas area to see the famous synchronized fireflies in the Smokies. The Slighs booked their hotel rooms six months ago.

“We did predict when the fireflies were roughly gonna be at their peak,” said Thomas Colson with the National Park Service.

Rain can sometimes diminish the light show, but it didn’t dampen spirits.

“I think it’s gonna be awesome,” Madeline Pittman said before the show started.

Pittman was among the estimated 800 to 1,300 that will flock to the Smoky Mountains for the show each night during the peak season.

A few of the fireflies
A few of the fireflies

East Tennessee is one of the only spots in the world for synchronous fireflies.

“They turn their lights on, on and off, at the same time. It’s part of a mating ritual,” said Colson.

As darkness fell and everyone staked out a seat, the show began.

Spectators kept their eyes to the night sky and started to see spots of tiny, flashing lights.

They slowly grew in number, wowing the crowd.

“It’s really beautiful. Something you don’t see every day,” said Doug and Jo Kuhn of Jacksonville, Fla.

“They started to blink at the same time,” said Pittman. “Blink, blink, blink, blink, blink, blink.”

The firefly show runs now through June 13.

More information on the fireflies are available on the National Park Service’s website.

Tickets are available the morning before the day of the event online at

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