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Wings of Fancy Live Butterfly & Caterpillar Exhibit

Wednesday, April 27 – Sunday, September 25, 2016
10:00am – 4:00pm daily
Fee: $8 ages 13 and up; $5 ages 3-12; Free ages 0-2

Visitor Information --- Learning Opportunities --- Volunteer Opportunities --- The Conservatories

Wings of Fancy ButterflyBrookside Gardens is happy to announce the return of its premier Wings of Fancy Live Butterfly and Caterpillar Exhibit. The seasonal display features hundreds of live butterflies from all over the world. Families, students, nature lovers, and everyone in between can get an up close experience of these brilliant butterflies from North America, Costa Rica, Africa and Asia as they soar among colorful flowers. Visitors can learn about their amazing metamorphosis, the important role butterflies play in having healthy ecosystems, and how to ensure these beautiful insects thrive in our own gardens. Please see below for important visitor information, opportunities to learn (for both kids and adults), and ways to become involved in the Exhibit.

Visitor Information

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. Tickets must be purchased by 4 pm for that day’s entry. Frequent Visitor Passes also available for use throughout the duration of the Exhibit (see below).

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 Cenhter ( first come- first served) or off-site and return to the Conservatory to pick up visitors at a designated time. Some groups elect to be dropped off at the conservatory and walk to the visitors center for pick up.

Accessibility: Children 2 and under are admitted free. However, we are not able to accommodate strollers in the Exhibit. The Exhibit is wheelchair accessible.

Peak Times: Many school groups visit the Exhibit in September – October, typically on weekdays between 10 am and 1 pm. 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. Early morning hours is another way to avoid crowds and enjoy the butterflies when the temperatures in the Exhibit are more comfortable.

Physical Conditions: The Exhibit is located inside a greenhouse, which is usually ten degrees warmer than the outside temperature and more humid. Visiting the butterfly exhibit and seeing the gardens requires a fair amount of walking. 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. Please check the announcements on the Park homepage for any updates.

sample frequent visitor passButterflies 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.

Weather Closures: The Exhibit may close during the following National Weather Service conditions: Heat Advisory, Excessive Heat Warning, Code Red or Purple Air Quality Alert. The exhibit may also close at other times during severe thunderstorms or other emergencies. The telephone hotline and the web site are updated frequently in the event of a temporary closure. Please call or check this website before your visit. For more information visit NOAA - current weather advisories.


Brookside Gardens is happy to welcome school and private groups to visit and learn about these amazing pollinators. Although the tours are self-guided, the Gardens provide educational signs 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.

Learning Opportunities

Wings of Fancy not only provides a unique experience to interact with both native and exotic butterflies, but also important learning opportunities for kids and adults. Whether it’s a summer camp, a photography course, or simply tips on to gardening for butterflies, Brookside Gardens has it all.

Butterfly Flutterby Fun
This five day summer camp
offers a chance for kids (ages 6-11) a chance to learn more about these amazing pollinators, get a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Exhibit, create butterfly crafts, and more. Extended care also available. Visit Active Montgomery to register!

Focus on Butterflies
Bring your tripod 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 am. Register for one session by clicking on the links below or calling 301-962-1451.


Volunteers are needed throughout the season to help with tours, ticket taking, and gift shop sales. Our volunteers contribute greatly to our ability to provide such an amazing experience. Please visit the Parks Volunteer page, call 301-962-1429 or e-mail for more information. Brookside Gardens provides a web-based training course along with on-site training.

The Conservatories

The Conservatories at Brookside Gardens consist of two glass buildings joined by a short hallway. The Conservatories house a large collection of tropical plants including banana, giant bird of paradise, and mimosa as well as seasonal displays. Besides the "Wings of Fancy" Live Butterfly Exhibit, the Conservatories at Brookside Gardens hosts the holiday train display and four changing shows throughout the year, including:

In the summer, giant leaves of elephant ears and taro create huge umbrellas of foliage in the sun. Color pops from the flowers of begonias, petunias, impatiens, Crossandra, lollipop flower, and shrimp plant. Coleus and Caladium leaves add to the tropical mix of red, pink, yellow and green. Ginger lily flowers will top its leafy stems in late summer, adding fragrance, shape and color in the conservatory jungle garden.