July 24, 2021
On July 22, the 24th annual Festival of Butterflies landed at Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s Botanical Garden. The annual summer festival is a family-favorite, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the whimsical world of pollinators. This year’s festival expands on the monarch migratory journey introduced last year, highlighting new ways to play along the way. With highlights of Peru, the conservatory will be filled with tropical butterflies featuring over 20 brand new butterflies never seen before at the Gardens. Festival of Butterflies runs daily, ending August 8 with new Festival After Hours on Thursdays from 5-9 p.m.
“Our community has embraced Festival of Butterflies for 24 years,” said Tabitha Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer for Powell Gardens. “One of the best parts is seeing visitors admiring beautiful butterflies and the delight in their eyes when one lands on them! The cameras come out and memories are made. This festival is a regional tradition for all ages. In 2021, visitors will enjoy favorite features alongside new elements while learning how important pollinators are to a healthy ecosystem.”
Start your festival experiences in the Martha Jane Phillips Starr Butterfly Conservatory to have an up-close encounter with free-flying butterflies and moths from all over the world. These tropical insects soar through lush plantings, landing to enjoy nectar from plants. Witness metamorphosis or a butterfly’s first flight as each newly-winged wonder emerges.
Next, travel to a replica of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site in Michoacán, Mexico where monarch butterflies spend the winter months, located in the Seed to Plate Greenhouse. Here, paper and live monarch butterflies cover tree limbs, creating a truly immersive (and Instagram-worthy) stop.
Up ahead, the new Pollinator Playground invites you to play on larger-than-life milkweed and honeycomb climbers. Continue following the migration path, featuring native host and nectar plants, through the Butterfly Meadow before arriving at the Caterpillar Petting Zoo. New this year, the outdoor micro-zoo gives visitors a hands-on experience with caterpillars. End your journey in the Native Butterfly Habitat, a permanent habitat installed to support Missouri’s native butterflies, before playing amongst pollinator-friendly plants in the Children’s Garden.
In addition to these travel stops, the festival will be activated by educational events and activities for the whole family: butterfly-themed breakfast in Café Thyme, indie craft fair The Strawberry Swing (July 24-25), daily Butterfly Parades, a special chance to watch the sun set over the Gardens during Festival After Hours (Thursdays, 5-9 p.m.), and three unique guided tours. For tickets and more information, please visit powellgardens.org/festivalofbutterflies.
Festival of Butterflies Special Events
The Strawberry Swing at Festival of Butterflies: July 24-25 | 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The Strawberry Swing is back! This highly curated indie craft fair is the Midwest’s celebration of the handmade movement. Shop small while enjoying summer blooms in a botanical garden.
Butterfly Breakfast Bash: Friday-Sunday | 9 a.m. – noon
Join Chris Cakes for an all-you-can-eat pancake bar with your favorite toppings and sausage links in Café Thyme, alongside a Nectar Bar serving assorted juices and coffee. Also enjoy dressing like your favorite pollinator, putting on a butterfly temporary tattoo, and creating your own butterfly glasses before snapping a picture in front of a themed backdrop. For tickets, please visit powellgardens.shopsettings.com.
The Mosaic of Peru Conservatory Talk: Daily during the festival | Top of the hour
The Martha Jane Phillips Starr Conservatory installation is inspired by the plants and butterflies of Peru. Learn more about this vibrant country in a short conservatory talk.
Colorful and Curious Monarch Migration: Daily | 10 a.m. and noon
Every year, monarch butterflies migrate from Mexico to the Midwest. Festival of Butterflies is a celebration of their colorful and curious migration. On this guided walking tour, discover their journey for yourself.
Butterfly Parade: Daily | 10: 30 a.m. and noon
Flit and flutter in the Butterfly Parade! Don your wings from the Creation Station for a journey through the Butterfly Meadow and Children’s Garden. On Saturdays, StoneLion Puppet Theater will lead the parade. On Sundays, Will Struck of the MESS Menagerie will lead the migratory march. The Butterfly Parade is recommended for kids ages 5-10. Parents are welcome to join the parade.
Festival After Hours: Thursday | 5-9 p.m.
Explore the festival after hours on Thursdays. Summer evenings at Powell Gardens are made for hanging out on the patio, taking a sunset stroll, or enjoying a unique date night.
Moths and Moon Gardens Talk: Thursdays | 7:30 p.m.
Uncover the mysteries of the Garden at dusk. Join a Powell Gardens horticulturist and discover four flowering plants with a unique schedule. These special plants only bloom beneath moonlight, making them ideal for moths, our night-loving pollinators.
From Garden to Glass: Margarita Edition: July 29 and August 5| 6:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
Have you ever wondered what plant is the main ingredient in tequila? Learn how the blue agave plant is used to make tequila and how to infuse tequila at home using natural ingredients. During class, participants will shake up their own margarita using Powell Gardens infused tequila.
Participants will receive a Powell Gardens branded shot glass as well as a mini produce box to keep infusing tequila at home. Homemade salsa with tortilla chips will be provided. Must be 21 years or older to attend the program. For tickets, please visit bit.ly/GardentoGlassMargarita.