Festivals & Events

Every autumn when the skies turn orange, we know it’s time for the annual Monarch Butterfly Festival! This is one of the most anticipated events of the year in Wakulla County. This year’s edition will be held at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, October 26 from 10 AM to 4 PM.

The great migration of the monarch butterfly

With their bright and contrasting orange and black coloring, monarch butterflies are among the most recognizable and beautiful insects in the world. Every year they make two long journeys: first heading to the northern U.S. and Canada to enjoy the cooler summer temps, and then traveling back down to Mexico when the autumn weather begins to arrive in the north. Since the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast are some of the busiest routes for these butterflies, we in Wakulla County are lucky enough to have a front-row seat to this magical migration every fall.

As a way to honor the importance of the monarch butterfly migration, give residents and visitors a chance to see thousands of these beautiful creatures up close, and educate the public about wildlife, the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge hosts the annual Monarch Butter Festival that coincides with the peak of the migration.

Learn more about the unique voyage of the butterflies and get involved

The Monarch Butterfly Festival is a special opportunity to see a spectacle unlike any other, but it’s not just about watching butterflies float through the crisp autumn air. Various wildlife and environmental groups will have exhibitions and displays on hand so you can learn more about the butterfly migration and come to understand their distinctive place in the North American ecosystem. You’ll also have a chance to participate in some butterfly-themed hands-on activities.

There’s another opportunity available for visitors who want to get even more involved in the migration. Every Saturday during the height of the migration, the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge allows volunteers to tag some of the butterflies as they make their way through the area. You’ll not only be helping researchers better understand this phenomenon, but you’ll be granted access to some parts of the refuge that you normally wouldn’t see. Everyone is welcome, and no previous tagging experience is required.

See one of the most beautiful displays of nature in a pristine natural environment

There really is nothing like seeing thousands of stunning monarchs participating in the most important journey of their lives. It’s even more special when you consider that you get to view this impressive display in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most beloved and beautiful natural wildlife habitats in the region. There is so much more to see at the refuge beyond the butterflies, including unspoiled nature trails, many species of mammals, birds, and reptiles, and the majestic St. Marks Lighthouse that stands on the shore. Visit our accommodations page to find a place to stay so you can explore the wildlife in the refuge and throughout our beautiful environments.