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Festival de la Monarca


Monarch butterfly decoration against the sky, with the Festival de la Monarca logo.
Monarch Festival logo Festival de la Monarca in East Chicago, Indiana. © Fauna Creative


Each fall as temperatures begin to drop in North America, iconic orange-and-black monarch butterflies fill the skies. They travel up to 100 miles per day as they make their way south, primarily to the oyamel fir forests of Michoacán, Mexico.

The generation of migrating butterflies was born in the United States and has never been to Mexico. The monarch travels 3,000 miles, connecting Canadian, U.S. and Mexican communities, and inspiring us with its endurance and courage. The environmental factors that drive monarch butterflies southward also hold meaning for conservationists: Their migration is now threatened by temperature changes, drought and other climate change impacts.

Bring your family and friends on Saturday, September 17 to the fifth annual Festival de la Monarca and help us welcome the monarch butterflies as they journey to Michoacán.

This festival—which also coincides with National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States—invites you to celebrate the beautiful monarch butterfly with your East Chicago community members with fun activities, music, art, dance and food.

Festival Activities Include:

  • Danza de los viejitos (Dance of the Elders): Ritualistically performed by the elders of the Purépecha people—the wisest of the community—and offered to the Old God to receive good harvests, this dance is now a tradition performed by people of all ages wearing white blanket pants and shirt, a sarape, cane, huaraches with wooden soles, a straw hat decorated with ribbon and masks with pink, smiling elderly faces.
  • Baile Folklórico: Traditional cultural dances performed throughout Mexico, Central America and parts of the United States. While each region has its own cultural twist based on local folklore, the steps and style of dance are similar. Across Mexico, traditional bailes include a general set of steps called zapateados, which involves percussive heel-stomping.
  • Aztec Dance: Aztec Dance originated as pre-Hispanic ritual dances meant to worship the gods and stay connected to nature. Dancers would arrange themselves in large circles and place offerings in the center. Aztec Dance is performed to a percussive rhythm, and dancers wear headdresses with long feathers, which are nature’s prized gifts in the Aztec culture.
  • Mariachi: This genre of music dates back to the 18th century, growing in popularity amongst the countryside of regions on Mexico. Includes violins, trumpets, a guitar, a vihuela and an acoustic bass guitar. Its rise in popularity and evolution of modern Mariachi is due to the migration of people from rural areas to states like Jalisco.
  • Turning trash to treasures—Artmaking from discarded items.
  • Butterfly releases—Be there as the monarchs begin their long journey south.

Want to Learn More?

Watch a video from last year's Festival de la Monarca or learn how monarch butterflies are bringing together conservation and culture between U.S. and Mexico.

The Festival de la Monarca is organized by The Nature Conservancy and is sponsored in part by Mayor Anthony Copeland and the City of East Chicago.

TNC is grateful for all the partners who make this possible, including Audubon Great Lakes, the Field Museum, Save the Dunes, Shirley Heinze Land Trust and the Gibson Woods Chapter of Wild Ones.