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Dunwoody Nature Center to host 23rd annual Butterfly fest
Children of all ages can get up close and personal with several butterflies at the 23rd annual Butterfly Festival in Dunwoody.

Butterfly Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20
Where: Dunwoody Nature Center, 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody
Cost: $8 adults, $4 children ages 4-12 and free for children 3 and younger in advance; $10 adults, $5 children ages 4-12 and free for children 3 and younger at the gate
More info:


  • 9-10 a.m. members-only opening
  • 10 a.m. festival opens for general public 
  • 10:30-11 a.m., Birds of Prey show on main stage
  • 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Animal encounter in the meadow
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Mr. Jason’s Music Party on the main stage
  • 12:45-1:30 p.m., Keith the Magic Man on main stage
  • 2-2:30 p.m., Birds of Prey show on main stage
  • 3-3:45 p.m., Mr. Jason’s Music Party on main stage
  • All day, Dunwoody Honey (Honeybees) in main building

For the 23rd year in a row, hundreds of butterflies will head from Florida to Georgia for the annual Butterfly Festival in Dunwoody.

Sponsored by the Dunwoody Nature Center, the annual event will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at 5343 Roberts Drive in Dunwoody. A special members-only preview begins at 9 a.m.

Advanced tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for children ages 4-12 and free for children 3 and younger. They can be purchased at Tickets bought at the gate are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 4-12, and free for children 3 and younger.

For the price of admission, visitors can tour two “giant” tents filled with hundreds of butterflies.

“Guests will be able to walk into the tent and experience the world of the butterflies,” said Alan Mothner, executive director at the Dunwoody Nature Center.

Inside the tents are also pollinated plants and other nectar-producing plants to entice the butterfly. Guests are given the opportunity to attract butterflies themselves for up close and personal visits by carrying foam paint brushes dipped in Gatorade.

“Here at the nature center, we’re all about experimental learning, learning by doing,” Mothner said, adding the mission of the nature preserve involves inspiring the love of nature. “This supports our mission, to inspire the love of nature and cultivate environmental understanding and stewardship... and what better way to do that than with the beauty of the butterfly.”

He said the event is so special because of the amount and variety of butterflies available in the tent. Expected butterflies include the tiger swallowtail, painted lady, monarch butterfly and other Georgia native butterflies.

The butterflies are transported from a butterfly farm in Florida traveling in envelopes, Mothner said.

“We find it incredibly interesting the way they come and they leave,” he said.

The envelopes are chilled, which causes the butterflies to go to sleep, Mothner said. On the day of the festival, the heat wakes them up. After the festival ends, volunteers catch the butterflies, return them to envelopes, chill them and send them back to Florida.

The monarch butterfly’s numbers have dwindled in the past several decades so the Dunwoody Nature Preserve has organized a milkweed project — a grass-roots effort to raise awareness of the demise of the monarch butterfly.

Mothner said the biggest reason for the drop in population is loss of habitat. The milkweed plant is the single food source for monarch’s and if they disappear so do the butterflies. The nature preserve has partnered with the elementary schools to place milkweed gardens at parks and schools.

“Really, what we’re trying to do is get the youngest student aware of the situation, so they can share with their parents and families,” Mothner said.

Other points of interest at the festival are shows, music, crafts, games, food and a scavenger hunt. This year the event will feature two birds of prey shows and two concerts, allowing visitors to enjoy one or the other.

The Atlanta Audubon Society, Monarchs Across Georgia, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Nature’s Echo Environmental Education Group, Wildcat Creek Restoration Project, and Watershed Management will have featured discovery stations.

Upon arrival, guests are asked to park at North Atlanta Church of Christ, 5676 Roberts Drive in Dunwoody. Shuttles will run continuously throughout the day. Parking will be prohibited at the nature center during the festival.

For more information, visit

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