Ladybug Music Festival returns to Wilmington to empower women in music and address gender inequality

The annual festival returns Friday with a lineup of more than 30 women artists spanning the genres of hip-hop, R&B, rock and country.

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Those enjoying the LadyBug Music Festival sat at one of the festival's designated rest spots, where food vendors await, during the 2023 event. (Courtesy of Moonloop Photography)

Those enjoying the LadyBug Music Festival sat at one of the festival's designated rest spots, where food vendors await, during the 2023 event. (Courtesy of Moonloop Photography)

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Once a small-scale event, Ladybug Music Festival has grown into a large event that attracts musicians and fans from around the area and the world. Held annually in Wilmington, the festival features performances by women artists.

This year, festivalgoers will be grooving down Market Street as organizers aim to bring diverse communities together. One significant draw for attendees is the festival’s focus on addressing gender inequalities in the music industry.

“Music is really something that puts you in the present tense, and I think we all enjoy when we’re not having to think about a million other things, to just be able to experience and enjoy music is very powerful,” said Gayle Dillman, CEO of Gable Music Venture, creator of LadyBug Music Festival. “It’s very unifying and we are happy to address the issue of gender inequities in the music business.”

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“It’s all about empowering women and having a festival that is all about women,” she added.

Since 2012, Ladybug Music Festival has grown into the largest free celebration of its kind, originating from a small block party as an alternative to the massive Firefly Music Festival that had been held in Dover. “Ladybug” refers to the event’s focus on women, giving local independent female artists a spotlight and bolstering the local creative economy.

“It started over 10 years ago when we realized that there was a lot of inequity in the festival scene with women being underrepresented,” she said. “So we had this idea of like, ‘Oh, maybe we should do something, we’re in Wilmington, we can do this.’ And so we started an event kind of by accident and called it ‘ladybug.’”

That initial block party kicked off with four venues and nearly 300 attendees. Eventually, it grew to double the venues and several thousand attendees before the pandemic.

“As we’ve been growing the festival, the attendance has been growing as well. The first time we did it, I think there was maybe a couple hundred people who came out for it,” she said. “In 2019, before COVID we probably hit our peak number, which was over the course of two days, we had a two-day event. [We] probably had close to about 8,000 people come out.”

This year’s festival includes specialty cocktails and Ladybug beer from various bars alongside diverse musical genres including hip-hop, R&B and country, featuring artists from across the country and globe.

“It’s not a genre-specific event. So there’s something for everybody,” she said. “We have everything from singer-songwriters to hard rock and bands and everything in between. We have three bands this year that come from outside of the United States,” she said. “We have a band from Ireland called the Screaming Orphans, a woman singer-songwriter from France and another band from Canada.”

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The festival kicks off Friday at 5 p.m. Performer schedules and venue locations can be found at

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