Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
February 18
11 a.m.—4 p.m.

Thirty-four more days (yes, we’re counting). While waiting for the the first blooms and bird songs to emerge, why not escape to the lush landscapes of Africa’s Congo region without even leaving home?

The youngest of budding botanists and world travelers are invited to get tropical this Saturday at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Bursting with color, texture and beauty from one of the planet’s most botanically and culturally rich rainforest regions, the Tropical Forest Congo Festival features a daylong celebration packed with plants, music, cuisine, culture and more.


Brighten up your digs by potting black-eyed peas and making African-inspired passport masks to take home, and learn about breathtaking tropical orchids during a talk led by botanist Tim Choltco. Join Celeta Hickman of Edo Scribes and Pleasantries to create a communal beaded artwork which will be displayed at Phipps after the festival.

Sample scrumptious African dishes such as moambé, a traditional stew from the Congo river area, made fresh and on-site at Café Phipps. Sway to live performances by the Camara Drum and Dance and Ibeji Drum Ensembles and participate in hands-on music activities led by Duquesne University students.

End the winter blues as you melt away amidst the Congo’s most breathtaking plants, animals and cultures. Encounter remarkable botanical specimens never before showcased at Phipps—such as towering sausage trees with fragrant red flowers and large tubular fruits that can weigh up to 22 pounds. The stunning long-term exhibit also showcases colorful Napolean hat plants, educational kiosks, photography displays, and more. Pop into the Special Events Hall to check out a royal palatial façade from the Bamileke tribe, ceremonial elephant masks, and a replica of an authentic Baka village dwelling.


The Tropical Forest Congo Festival is free with regular admission (fee for members and children under 2).

Looking for more events? Check out our 11 Pittsburgh events not to miss in FebruaryTop 10 family events in Pittsburgh this February and our 17 can’t-miss Pittsburgh concerts in 2017 feature stories.

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.