My kids are obsessed with bugs of all varieties – and especially with butterflies (or flutterbys as my youngest cutely calls them). We read The Hungry Little Caterpillar several times each week and they all love to scream ‘a beautiful butterfly!’ at the end of the story. So when we heard whispers of a butterfly garden opening in our desert city, I couldn’t wait to treat my trio to a date. Typically of Dubai, it was almost impossible to find out when the Butterfly Garden would open (I had to stop using promises of a family outing to it as a bribe). I’d rather given up hope when suddenly – pop! It landed. Yes mamas, the Dubai Butterfly Garden is now officially open – hooray! So mama gathered up the gang and headed out on Umm Suqeim Street for our long awaited date with those flutterbys.
Dubai Butterfly Garden is located almost next door to Dubai Miracle Garden, which we also visited and is absolutely beautiful, but didn’t stand a chance given that all the minis wanted to do was find the butterflies. It’s a completely separate attraction with its own gate fee. If you’re a family of four or more with kids older than 3 then a visit isn’t cheap at AED 50 per person. There’s also an AED 30 option if you only want to stroll around the flower filled gardens surrounding the butterfly domes, but really why would you want to do that when you’ve got the Miracle Garden next door?
The butterflies are definitely the star attractions here. The gardens are beautiful and colourful and fab for a little run around pre/post butterfly visit (on the paths only as we very quickly learned) so you could definitely spend a happy couple of hours here. Perfect for making the most of the outdoors before it gets too hot!
The butterflies themselves are housed in three glass domes with a little café entrance where mama spotted an amazing ice-cream display, which was thankfully overlooked by my little butterfly enthusiasts who were on a mission to get up close and personal with the winged residents.
Once inside the doors, we entered a mini little garden of paradise complete with colourful plants, flowers, bird-song and, most importantly, lots and lots of butterflies. I was worried that the kids would have trouble spotting any, especially as we visited at 4pm which is apparently when most of the butterflies want to rest (11am – 4pm are the prime hours for plenty of fluttery activity).
However with over 26 varieties and 6000 butterflies there was lots to see: some flying, some feeding at the little fruit stations that have been set up and others just having an afternoon snooze among the blooms. The domes are big enough to feel as though you’re having an adventure but not so big to worry if the kids run off – which mine did – finding something new to look at around every corner.
There are also uber helpful staff dotted around and guarding the doors to each dome who really looked out for the children and were very knowledgeable about the butterflies, explaining how they fed and answering all the sweet little questions that were being thrown at them. In each dome are mini netted areas in which you’re encouraged to meet and gently hold the insects – the kids literally had butterflies in (and on) their tummies and completely adored it.
This really is one of those brilliantly magical and totally timeless attractions and the great news is that whatever the weather, these domes are temperature controlled – making this a fab escape from the summer heat. There’s more to see and do in the surrounding area from the Miracle Garden (and that ice cream display) to the life-size plastic giraffes, elephants and whales that lurk in the undergrowth of the dilapidated adjoining real estate development (which actually housed real tigers until a couple of years ago). And on your way you can pick up awesome organic fruit and veg from Greenheart, hit the play area or go-kart track at Motor City (dependent on the ages of your troop), or head to the green fields, buzzing stables and chilled pool of the Polo Club (AED 120 per person pool access for the day which may seem expensive now, but wait till summer really kicks in – and did I mention that bar service extends poolside).
Still, for the minis and me the magic of the Dubai Butterfly Garden lies in being able to embrace nature when living in a city, rather than sticking your heads through the artificial Dubai Mall butterfly display.
Dubai Butterfly Garden, Al Barsha South 3, Dubai, (+971) (0)4 422 8902, www.the-miracle-garden.com