Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
February 20
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

This weekend, escape the gloomy tundra of February and step into a lush tropical forest right in our own backyard.

Credit: Phipps Staff
Credit: Phipps Staff

For five festive hours on Saturday, the youngest of botanists and explorers are invited to explore the breathtaking plants, animals, ecology and culture of central Africa at the Tropical Forest Congo Festival. Showcasing one of the most botanically and culturally rich rainforest regions on planet Earth, the all-ages celebration is packed with exotic fun, family-friendly activities, culinary arts and lively entertainment.

Have a green thumb? Pot your own collard green plants to create an edible healthy treat to take home, and learn about the science of the rainforest with students from Duquesne University. Next, make an African mask to take home, and participate in a collaborative beading activity for Phipps led by artist, Celeta Hickman.

Get moving from 3 to 4 p.m., when Yamoussa Camara leads a group of live African drummers and dancers. Craving a snack? Taste fresh and delicious recipes inspired by moin moin, a regional dish featuring back-eyed peas and rice created on-site by Café Phipps.

Credit: Phipps Staff
Credit: Phipps Staff

The day’s activities will highlight Phipps’ newest long-term exhibition, Tropical Forest Congo, where families can experience a dazzling display of flora never before seen locally. Don’t miss the fascinating sausage trees—known for their fragrant red flowers and massive tubular fruits that can weigh up to 22 pounds—and be sure to look for the colorful Napoleon hat plant which bears passionflower-style blooms on its trunk.

Marking the culmination of extensive research conducted by Phipps’ staff during trips to the central African country of Cameroon, the exhibition also includes specimens sourced from nurseries located throughout the U.S. as well as from seeds procured from Nigeria, along with engaging educational kiosks and dynamic photography displays.

The Tropical Forest Congo Festival is free with admission to Phipps ($15 for adults; $14 for seniors and students; $11 for children ages 2 to 18; free for members and kids under age 2.

Looking for more events? Read our 10 Pittsburgh events not to miss in February feature.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.