As one of the most family-friendly festivals in California, Mariposa spreads its wings for this signature celebration when families and friends gather for a weekend of music, art, food, education, equestrians, skydivers, and of course, butterflies! Everyone’s invited, and the Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau is a proud sponsor of the Mariposa Butterfly Festival. This year’s event takes place May 6 -7, 2023 at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds.
Butterfly Back Story
The Mariposa Butterfly Festival is inspired by the 1806 Spanish expedition of Gabriel Moraga. After making camp by an almost dry riverbed near present-day Mariposa, Moraga’s company was swarmed by clouds of butterflies that nearly blocked out the sun. He named that place Las Mariposas, Spanish for “The Butterflies,” a title eventually adopted as the name of the city and county. (The Moraga expedition has another local name claim to fame, the “River of Our Lady of Mercy,” today’s Merced River.)
Soaring to New Heights
Festivities take renewed flight Saturday at noon with the Mariposa Butterfly Festival Parade, featuring rolling bands, equestrians, animals, floats, classic cars, skydivers, and even a giant butterfly or two, all striding and strutting through the charming main streets of downtown Mariposa.
The festival flutters hither and yon. At the Mariposa Fairgrounds, more than 75 local vendors tender handmade crafts, apparel, vintage and antique collections, jewelry, food, photo booths and more. Butterfly-themed works of art, local foods, and numerous made-in-Mariposa vendor booths will be on hand.
The Mariposa Butterfly Festival is a great showcase for local musical talent. Artists of many genres perform over the two-day weekend playing rock, country, pop and religious music at Mariposa Arts Park stage and other venues.
Fun, Free & Family Friendly
The festival is wonderful for families, as admission and most activities are free with many geared to the younger set. One of the most anticipated moments of the Mariposa Butterfly Festival is the release of some 4,000 butterflies, creating a colorful storm guaranteed to inspire oohs, aahs, and smiles on sky-turned faces. Some lucky guests will get a slice of orange that the butterflies land on for up-close and personal viewing.
Family-friendly games & activities, bouncy houses, pony rides, virtual reality station, and face painting booths entertain kids of all ages. Educational aspects of the festival include volunteers who will present butterfly ecology and how to create a butterfly garden in your backyard.
Beyond the Butterflies
The Mariposa Butterfly Festival is a great launching point for an extended holiday weekend in Yosemite Mariposa. Rich in authentic California history, Mariposa’s splendid streets and stately structures are counted among the oldest in California. Don’t miss the Mariposa County Courthouse (the oldest courthouse in continuous operation west of the Mississippi and listed on the National Register of Historic Places). Courthouse tours will be offered during the course of the festival weekend. Another must-see for history buffs is the Mariposa Museum & History Center, a “Best Little Museum” according to the Smithsonian Institution.
Mariposa’s food and drinks scene is vibrant and varied, with great options that run the gamut from burgers, craft beer and cider to brie, baguettes and local wines. Dine at 1850 Brewing Company, Charles Street Dinner House, Happy Burger Diner, Don Rubens Restaurant, Miner’s Roadhouse, Savoury’s Restaurant, High Country Health Food & CafÃ©, Airport Bar & Grill and support these Yosemite Mariposa County/Mariposa Butterfly Festival sponsors.
Taste of Mariposa
Every butterfly needs that bump of energy to inspire the metamorphosis from chrysalis to taking wing. It’s the same dynamic for the festival! A volunteer-driven affair, the Taste of Mariposa is an annual event benefitting the Mariposa Butterfly Festival. The great event each year requires tickets to be purchased in advance and many local chefs and restaurants serve up some of their best dishes to provide a true “taste of Mariposa”.
Butterfly Fun Facts
- Butterfly wings are translucent.
- Butterflies taste with sensors located on their feet.
- Butterflies live on an all-liquid diet.
- Mud puddles are favorite butterfly watering holes.
- Butterflies can’t fly if they’re too cold.
- A group of butterflies is called a flutter.