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Step into the Wisley Glasshouse this winter as it transforms into a tropical paradise with more than 6,000 free-flying exotic butterflies.

Escape into the warmth to see these colourful beauties gliding around the cathedral-like space - including 15 species never before seen at Wisley.

The butterflies feel right at home in our rainforest-like Tropical Zone, filled with huge leaves and flowers including banana plants, floating wetland plants, bromeliads and palm trees.  

Event highlights

  • See more than 50 different butterfly species from the tropical world, including Central and South America and South East Asia 
  • Marvel at the vibrant colours and take the perfect photo
  • Learn about the fascinating lifecycle of a butterfly, get up close to caterpillars, and use microscopes to look at the beautiful wings in our interactive Education Zone

Follow the sculpture trail

Follow the sculpture trail through the garden, featuring sculptures created by artist Alison Catchlove. You can see Alison demonstrating her sculpting skills in the Glasshouse Gallery every Friday – Sunday during the event (excluding Friday 17 February).

February half term fun

February half term, 11 – 19 February, will be packed with free family events on the theme of Whatever the Weather for Butterflies.
More about February half term activities

Girl with butterflyNew butterflies to look for

There are more than 15 new species to see this year. How many can you find? New species include:

  • Blue Wave (Central America):  sapphire blue iridescent wings, delicately patterned with white. 
  • Giant Swallowtail (North America): at first looks similar to its cousin the UK Swallowtail, but with a much larger wingspan of up to 18cm! 
  • Tiger Leafwing: a master of camouflage. The tiger-like orange upper wings completely disappear when the wings close, looking remarkably like a dead leaf.

Butterfly Drawing Competition

Open to ages from 1–8 with every Eats for Kids purchase - drop off your drawing and entry form in the Glasshouse Café or Food Hall designated drop off box or post to:

Taste of Wisley,
RHS Garden Wisley,
GU23 6QA

We will draw a weekly winner to receive a £5 ‘pocket money’ voucher for use in the RHS Wisley gift shop or plant centre and winners will be contacted by email.

Each age group will be judged separately - the judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. We will be exhibiting a range of entrants from all ages in our Glasshouse Café Marquee (please note: given space restrictions we can’t show all entrants drawings).

'Having butterflies in the Glasshouse is the perfect antidote for the mid-winter blues and provides a welcome escape to tropical climes' - Christopher J. Young, Glasshouse Team Leader

Special dates for your diary

Butterfly cupcakes14 January – 6 March
Flights of Fancy

Round off your viewing of the butterflies with our tasty teatime treats. Inspired by these winged beauties, Taste of Wisley bakers are making butterfly-decorated cookies and cupcakes.
More about eating at Wisley 
11 – 19 February
February half term

Butterflies are sensible creatures and don’t come out in the rain. Join us, whatever the weather, to create butterfly-themed weather crafts. Make your own rain stick decorated with butterflies, create your own butterfly watering can, make a bubble-art butterfly or bring in your outgrown wellington boots to decorate and upcycle, by planting them up with flower seeds to attract butterflies.
Activities vary daily, all activities free with normal garden admission.
26 January and 1 & 10 February 2017
Tutored butterfly photography mornings

Discover how to capture beautiful images of our tropical butterflies with expert advice. Join Adrian Davies for this morning workshop covering techniques, equipment and image processing. You will enjoy exclusive access to the Glasshouse before it opens to the public at 10am.
8am – noon. Members £54, non-members £68 (includes tea/coffee). Book on 020 3176 5830 (from 9 November, lines open Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm). 
Woman photographing a butterfly24 February
Untutored butterfly photography mornings

A chance to visit the Butterflies in the Glasshouse before opening hours to capture their beauty. You will have a base in the Clore Learning Centre where refreshments will be served and are free to visit and photograph the glasshouse and butterflies as you please.
8am – 10.15am. Members £23, non-members £37 (includes tea/coffee). Book on 020 3176 5830 (from 9 November, lines open Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm)

4 and 5 February
NEW: Butterfly and moth metamorphosis in watercolour 

Get up close to one of the most awe-inspiring and beautiful processes in the natural world.

Artist and conservationist Cath Hodsman will guide you through creating detailed and unique paintings with anatomical accuracy, using either a microscope or macro-photographic material.
10.30am – 4.15pm. Members £165, non-members £179. Book on 020 3176 5830.   

Blue Morpho butterflyPlan your visit

  • Butterflies in the Glasshouse is free with normal garden entry
  • ​RHS members and a family guest go free
  • During February half term ( 11 - 19 February), the garden will open at 9am daily

Buy garden tickets & save 10% 

  • General admission is always available or you can pre-book a time slot on any day
  • FAQs – got a question about booking tickets, how the event works, or butterflies in general? Find the answer here
  • Don't forget to visit the Food Hall or Glasshouse café for refreshments and butterfly-decorated cookies and cupcakes. The Wisley Gift Shop and Plant Centre has a stunning selection of gifts, souvenirs and plants to choose from.

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RHS Membership

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I enjoy a refreshing walk… my membership gives me free family days out as often as I like.

Mrs Giddings, RHS member

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