As visitors enter the South Conservatory, they are surrounded by hundreds of brilliant live butterflies from North America, Costa Rica, Africa and Asia soaring among colorful flowers and going about their business of drinking nectar and looking for others of their kind. Visitors learn about their amazing metamorphosis, the important role butterflies play in healthy ecosystems, and how to ensure these beautiful insects thrive in our own gardens.
Please see below for important visitor information, group information, opportunities to learn more about butterflies, and ways to become involved in the Exhibit.
Purchasing Tickets: Tickets may be purchased at the Visitors Center or at the Conservatory gift shops. Tickets are good for re-entry to the Exhibit throughout the day of purchase. Frequent Visitor Passes also available for use throughout the duration of the Exhibit.
Parking: Parking is available at the Conservatory and Visitors Center parking lots. Buses may drop off visitors at the Conservatory, but may not park in the Conservatory lot due to space limitations. Buses may park at the Visitors Center (first come- first served) or off-site and return to the Conservatory to pick up visitors at a designated time. Some groups choose to be dropped off at the Conservatory and walk to the Visitors Center for pick up.
Accessibility: The Exhibit is wheelchair accessible. Strollers are not permitted in the Exhibit.
Peak Times: Many school groups visit the Exhibit in May, early June, September and October, on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Individuals may prefer to visit the exhibit after 1 p.m. to avoid crowds and for easier access to parking in the Conservatory parking lot.
Physical Conditions: The Exhibit is located inside a greenhouse, which is usually ten degrees warmer than the outside temperature and more humid. Visiting in the early morning hours is a way to enjoy the butterflies when the temperatures are more comfortable. We encourage all visitors to bring water with them during hot weather and to drink water regularly.
Extreme Heat Closures: Brookside Gardens follows the advisory from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If there is extreme weather or heat, Brookside Gardens will close the Exhibit for the safety of our visitors, volunteers, and staff. Announcements will be posted here, on BrooksideGardens.org, and on our Facebook page.
Butterflies on a Budget! Purchase a Frequent Visitor Pass and enjoy unlimited return visits to the Exhibit this season. Individual, Dual, and Family Passes are on sale in the Gift Shop. $50 for the Individual pass, $65 for the Dual pass, and $125 for the Family Pass.
Brookside Gardens is happy to welcome school and private groups to visit and learn about these amazing pollinators. Group discounts are not available. The tours are self-guided with interpretive signage, as well as suggestions for pre- and post-lesson activities to visiting organizations. Groups of 15 or more must pre-register by calling 301-962-1467. Please bring at least one chaperone for every 5-10 children.
Buses must unload passengers in front of the Conservatory, then park offsite. The leaders should check-in and confirm entry times with Brookside Gardens staff. Look for staff members adjacent to the Conservatory underneath the “Wings of Fancy Butterfly” sign. Large groups must divide into groups of 30 children with a designated leader for each, plus at least one chaperone for every 5- 10 children. Groups of ten at a time enter the Exhibit in ten-minute intervals. Groups with spare time may explore the outside garden areas until their designated tour time.
Wings of Fancy Butterfly Birthday Party (May-Mid September)
Be your own butterfly for the day, emerge from a chrysalis, craft your own butterflies to take home with you, and get up close and personal with butterflies at Brookside Gardens’ “Wings of Fancy’ Exhibit. Book your party today!
Focus on Butterflies
Bring your tripod and your camera gear and enjoy two quiet hours of photography in our Wings of Fancy Live Butterfly and Caterpillar Exhibit before it opens to the public. Each session occurs from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. Register today!
Garden after Dark: Wings and Wine
Thursday, May 11, 2017, 7-9 p.m.
Looking for a special night out with friends or a loved one? Let Brookside take care of the details! Each fee covers the cost of one person. 21 and up.What do butterflies do when the sun sets? Find out with exclusive evening access to our Wings of Fancy exhibit where you?ll learn more about the fascinating family of butterflies? Lepidoptera. Sample several wine varieties and enjoy light refreshments as butterflies and music swirl around you in our tropical conservatory. Finish off the evening with a decadent dessert. Register today!
Exploring Butterflies with Colored Pencils
Tuesday, June 13 2017, 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Discover the beauty of butterflies as you explore how to use colored pencils to create intricate details of their patterned wings. The class will begin with a trip to Brookside’s Wings of Fancy butterfly exhibit, then a walk through the gardens to the classroom where you will learn how to apply layers of colored pencil to add depth and vibrancy, making your butterfly come alive. Register today!
Volunteer ticket takers and flight attendants are needed to help support our staff with running the exhibit. Ticket Takers are stationed just outside the exhibit and are responsible for greeting visitors, explaining the exhibit rules, and coordinating exhibit entry. Flight Attendants are stationed inside the exhibit to show off Exhibit highlights and educate visitors about requirements to keep butterflies inside the building.