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Delaware’s Ladybug Festival kicks it up a notch for 2023

The women-centered music festival aims to return to its former glory after powering through the worst of the pandemic.

A moment from the 2022 Ladybug Festival. (Courtesy photo)
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Wilmington’s Ladybug Festival is back.

Technically, there was some version of the largest free festival featuring all women artists and women-led musical groups in the US even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when it was a series of virtual concerts, and 2021, when it was a series of in-person single-artist concerts. Still, that was considered a hiatus.

Last year, the festival was transitional: It was held in person, with 41 scheduled acts outdoors on Lower Market and in several downtown venues. While it served as a much-needed boost for dozens of small businesses in the city as it navigated through COVID recovery, it wasn’t quite at 100%.

“We were still in the shadow,” Gayle Dillman, Ladybug’s creator and cofounder of Gable Music Ventures, told “On the day of, we actually lost several bands that were sick, and we had to scramble, because COVID was still such a thing. It’s still important, but it’s not the thing that it was last year.”

This year’s Ladybug is happening on Friday, June 2, taking up the 400 and 500 block of Market Street, featuring a mix of local, regional and national artists headlined by gothic blues artist Aida Victoria. Local folks include Tynisha, Gretchen Emory Band and Diamond Swing Band.

Aida Victoria

Aida Victoria. (Courtesy photo)

Victoria, originally from South Carolina, was nominated for two American Music Awards: 2022 Emerging Act of the Year and Album of the Year.

“We’ve ratcheted up a notch,” Dillman said. “We’re trying to attract a higher level of artists to want to perform at the event. Aida Victoria is awesome, her stage presence is remarkable, she is not your typical kind of blues player. She’s something different for us as a headliner.”

Local business partnerships this year include The Queen, The Farmer & The Cow, Merchant Bar and The Quoin Hotel’s rooftop bar.

The event remains free, thanks in part to its main sponsor, Chase.

“We really stress to everyone that coming out to the festival that it supports local businesses,” Dillman said. “Every single artist is a small business. Small businesses are the heart of our economy as well as the creative side. It’s important that we continue to do events like this that are free and open to everyone to attend and bring people on a national level to pay attention to what’s going on here.”

The festival will kick off at 4 p.m. at Willingtown Square with DJ Shadylady, who will also DJ the afterparty at Stitch House starting at 10:30 p.m.

See the event schedule, map and other Ladybug info on its website, plus info about the Milford Ladybug Festival, coming downstate on Sept. 31.

People: Gayle Dillman

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