The sixth annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival, a month-long celebration inspired by the monarch butterfly during its peak migration season in San Antonio, takes flight this October.

After a virtual hiatus in 2020, the festival returns this fall with almost a dozen events that culminate in a live celebration at Confluence Park October 16.

The family friendly event celebrates science, community, art and education and includes monarch butterfly tagging demos, a Forever Journey altar that will honor those who have died, a story walk, kayak outings, food trucks, presentations, and dozens of educational booths and vendors. A People for Pollinators Parade kicks off the Festivities at Conception Park at 9:30 AM. Participants are encouraged to “get their wings on.” The Festival will continue until 2 PM.

“With its native plant gardens, petal domes and location at the confluence of two rivers that represent the lifeblood of our city, Confluence Park rolls out the welcome mat for our Festival–and for monarchs,” said Festival founder and director Monika Maeckle. She added that forecasts for this year’s monarch butterfly migration, which are already underway, are “pretty upbeat.”

A child engages with a monarch butterfly at San Antonio’s 2018 Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival. Photo by Drake White

“Deepening our support for the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival makes perfect sense,” said Frates Seeligson, Executive Director of the San Antonio River Foundation. “Its educational components and celebration are an ideal fit with our mission to harmonize the needs of people and nature through stewardship of the rivers and land.”

Since its founding in 2016, the Festival’s goal has been to raise understanding and appreciation of the insect pollinators that make one of every three bites of our food possible, underscore our inherent interconnectedness, encourage the use of native nectar and host plants in gardens and landscapes, and reinforce San Antonio’s strategic role in the monarchs’ annual migration as the First Monarch Butterfly Champion City in the nation.

Last year’s virtual Festival drew more than 6,000 attendees at 20 virtual workshops and events. In 2019, more than 4,000 people attended Festival day at the Pearl, while thousands of others enjoyed more than a dozen in-person events.

The programming is made possible by the generous support of the San Antonio River Foundation, Valero, the John and Florence Newman Foundation, the Winkler Family Foundation, HEB, the San Antonio River Authority, Katy and Ted Flato, San Antonio Creative City of Gastronomy, SAWS, the Consulate General of Canada, Rainbow Gardens, Lake Flato Architects, the Witte, the Pearl, and Steve and Marty Hixon.

Check the Texas Butterfly Ranch Festival page for a complete schedule of this year’s events. Highlights below:


Caterpillar Condos for Classrooms

“Caterpillar condos” will be awarded to 60 Title-1 classrooms in San Antonio on Sept. 13 following a monarch teacher training on Sept. 11 at Confluence Park. Videos developed by Blooming with Birdie will help second grade students understand the monarch’s metamorphosis as it moves through its life cycle. Students will then tag and release the butterfly to join the migration in October. Sponsored by Valero



Forever Journey: a Celebration of our Loved Ones
Each fall, monarch butterflies arrive in the high altitude forests west of Mexico City in time for Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos. We’ll honor this tradition by tagging hundreds of butterflies in the names of loved ones who died. Those names will be entered on the data sheets sent to citizen science project Monarch Watch with the hope that the butterflies are recovered in Mexico.

Those interested in honoring someone who died by having a monarch tagged in their name, please fill out this form. If your loved one’s butterfly makes it to Mexico, is recovered, and reported, we’ll let you know.


A Conversation with climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe
Thursday,  Oct. 7, 6 p.m.
Online and at Legacy Park

This hybrid event will feature Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist, evangelical Christian and author of Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World.

Brendan Gibbons, environmental journalist for the San Antonio Report, will lead the conversation which will be streamed on a large screen at Legacy Park. Sustainability oriented programming will take place in the park for those who want to gather in person.   Register here.


Monarch Butterfly & Pollinator Festival at Confluence Park 
Saturday,  Oct. 16, 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

A People for Pollinators Parade kicks off festivities at 9:30 a.m. We’ll be tagging monarch butterflies for citizen science in honor of loved ones all day long, kayaking the beautiful San Antonio River and offering myriad educational events and family fun by our education partners.

Started in 2016 in response to the City of San Antonio taking the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge, the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival is a community wide collaboration of private sector companies, government and nonprofit agencies, and devoted volunteers. It is organized by the Texas Butterfly Ranch, a website devoted to pollinator advocacy. Our nonprofit partner is the San Antonio River Foundation.

Last year’s virtual Festival drew more than 6,000 attendees at 20 virtual workshops and events. In 2019, more than 4,000 people attended Festival day at the Pearl, while thousands of others enjoyed more than a dozen in-person events.

TOP PHOTO: Child engages with monarch butterfly at 2019 Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival, Photo by Drake White

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