The latest UK art and sculpture trails in 2024

The last few years city art trails (mainly run for charity), have become more popular. I’ve usually missed getting to see them due to lack of time off, or just missing the days. Once the Gromit Unleashed sculpture trail arrived in Oxford over the Easter holidays way back in 2018, we headed to Oxford on a slightly drizzly day to visit both Oxford Castle and do the trail. It was a lot of fun, and since then we’ve been to other temporary sculpture trails, and I’m always looking out for other trails to do. This post keeps updated with the latest UK art and sculpture trails in 2024 and onwards.

If you’ve never experienced an art trail before, then do look out for them near to you. They’re great for families to get out and about, and to explore local areas. The charity art trails tend to rotate around different cities or regions, and some even return a few years later with different artists and designs (I’ve heard Gromit Unleashed is returning to Bristol for Summer 2025 so watch out for that one as it was one of the first trails that really got them all started).

What is an art trail or sculpture trail?

Art trails (or sculpture trails) are largely set up in cities or larger towns as a temporary exhibition, to provide a fun and interesting activity celebrating artworks. They’re usually themed around a character (think the Green Man trail, the Gromit Unleashed, the bee trail around Manchester. The sculptures are usually large, places in different places around the city, and designed by different artists or community groups from the city. Many trails are done for charity, with the sculptures auctioned off afterwards.

Often you can get hold of a trail map from a local information centre or online, or pay to get a children’s activity sheet. Some have an app. Then you follow the trail in a day, or across weeks if you’re local, to spot as many of the sculptures as you can find.

Art trails are a great way to enjoy a day out to explore more around a town or city, especially when you’ve got children. Artwork is a good diversion when out shopping too.

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Art and sculpture trails in 2024 and in future

School holidays and weekends are a great time for getting out on temporary one off trails, watch out for any in your local area from around April onwards. Most are put on in aid of charities too.

  • A Wild Life for Wild Life, London City Bridge. Open until 16 May 2024. Created by artists Gillie and Marc, these giant realistic wildlife sculptures are around the area.
  • Wembley Park Art trail, London. 1 February to 31 May 2024. Free art trail of 18 works. Trails rotate between artists through the year.
  • Little Egg Hunt, Chelsea London. 18 March to 15 April 2024. Free easter egg hunt and trail of 12 giant eggs. Download a map of the trail.
  • The Snooks trail – York, from February to April 2024. 23 Snooks, a special character made for this trail will be around the city.
  • Sculpture in the City – annual sculpture exhibitions that rotate from one year to the next in the City of London. Download the information, or get a leaflet from St Paul’s Cathedral. This latest edition finished in Spring 2024 in the financial district.
  • Paws on the Wharf – Canary Wharf London, 25 March to 17 May 2024. Larger than life size guide dog sculptures.
  • Shawn the Sheep, find the flock – Tatton Park, 29 March to 23 June 2024. 12 sculptures around the National Park estate.
  • Kingston Bear Hunt – Kingston, 29 March to 7 June 2024. 10 bears inspired by We’re Going on a Bear Hunt children’s book.
  • SmileyWorld – Battersea, 29 March to 19 May 2025. 15 giant smiley emoticons will be spread across the area.
  • Elmer’s Big Parade – Blackpool, 13 April to 9 June 2024. 30 large sculptures, and including smaller ones around the town.
  • Standing Tall – Cambridge. 21 March to 2 June 2024 brings a giraffe trail, with 31 large plus small sculptures.
  • The Big Hoot – Chichester and Arundel, 10 July to 1 September 2024. Giant owls will be in place for 8 weeks finishing with a final event in September.
  • Hairy Highland Coo event – Perth and Kinross, 28 June to 6 September 2024 with 30 giant cows in place.
  • Shaun the Sheep in the heart of Kent – Maidstone, starts 29 June to 20 August 2024 with 50 large Shauns, plus smaller ones.
  • Castles in the Sky – Swansea from 6 July to 15 September 2024. 40 giant castle sculptures (and 30 mini ones) will be around the city.
  • March of the Elephants – Lichfield, Tamworth and Sutton Coldfield, 1 July to 1 September 2024. 60 giant elephant sculptures around the 3 areas.
  • March of the Elephants – Lichfield, Tamworth and Sutton Coldfield from 1 July to 8 September 2024.
  • The Short Tail trail – Luton, 6 July to 12 September 2024. There will be over 90 hares and tortoises.
  • The Ox Trail – Oxford, 6 July to 31 August 2024. 30 large Ox sculptures, plus extra small ones to find.
  • Newark Book Bench – Newark, from 11 July 2024.
  • Light the South – Southampton and Cowes, 13 July to 12 September 2024 with 40 8 ft lighthouses.
  • The Great Waddle of Worcester – 22 July to 15 September 2024, with 40 large and the same number of small penguin sculptures.
  • Big fun art adventure – North London, 17 August to 13 October 2024. 30 five foot owls plus smaller ones will be around the area.
  • Dinky Doors – Cambridge. End date unknown. Rather than large art sculptures, Cambridge has 14 dinky doors set around the city to find. It is a paid app or map (with story and details of each place). You can pay what you want for a basic map, or just search as you go.
  • Scenes in the Square – Leicester Square, London. This movie themed bronze statue trail is around Leicester Square

2025 art trails

  • The Big Egg Hunt, London. Due in 2025, with 200 giant eggs around the capital.
  • Stampede by the Sea – Bridport, West Bay and Lyme Regis, Spring 2025 will bring elephant sculptures.
  • Great Tail Trail – Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, 5 April to 1 June 2025. 40 giant tail sculpture, with 60 smaller ones.
  • Gogo Safari – Norfolk and Norwich, summer 2025.
  • The Bookbench trail – Aberdeen, Moray, Orkney and Shetland, summer 2025.
  • Trail with a tale – Tunbridge Wells, summer 2025.
  • Birmingham Art trail – summer 2025.

Check first if these trails are still running, because their websites don’t say if they’ve stopped.

  • Fosse Park Foxes – look for the 25 foxes around the Fosse Park shopping centre at Leicester (still running as of Feb 2023).
fosse park fox

Some sculptures are kept in museums etc as keepsakes (or having been bought or donated) afterwards. For example in Glasgow we spotted a couple of the cartoon thistles while walking past somewhere, and in the Riverside Museum. These were created as part of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014!

cartoon thistle sculpture in the riverside fmuseum

Permanent sculpture parks and walks

Around the UK in rural areas and country parks, there are permanent sculpture parks you can visit and walk around. They range from a handful of sculptures, to parks with hundreds of artwork pieces in, from natural designs to huge pieces. You can find some of them in the below, many are free to enter (you just pay for parking):

  • Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield – over 40 years old, this parkland has 100 pieces of art to discover, as well as a handful of indoor galleries to enjoy. Great option for families.
  • Sculpture by the Lakes, Dorchester Dorset – 30 giant sculptures by Simon Gudgeon and his wife, with further sculptures by 30 other artists. No children under 14 years, book online.
  • Cotswold Sculpture Park, Somerfield Keys, Gloucestershire – Elemental exhibition, open April to September (not Tuesdays/Wednesdays), cafe available.
  • Forest of Dean – beautiful walks (cycle trails also available), with well spaced out artworks set into the countryside features, including a beautiful hanging stained glass piece that was my favourite.
  • Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, St Ives Cornwall – visit her former home and studio and see some of her 30+ exciting sculptures.
  • The Sculpture Park, Farnham, Surrey – smaller pieces of artwork (over 800!), in a 10 acre garden to explore. The pieces are for sale, so the artwork changes regularly.
  • British Ironworks Sculpture Centre, Shropshire – a 30 acre garden with over 100 metalwork pieces, including an educational Extinction Trail of endangered animals.
  • Grizedale Sculpture, Cumbria – we visited towards the end of our uni days, enjoy Grizedale Forest’s 40+ sculptures that work well into the natural habitat. Visit them by foot or bike
  • Sainsbury Centre Sculpture Park, Norwich – if you’re going for the indoor art galleries, also check out the 20+ sculptures outside the centre on the University of East Anglia’s campus.
  • Henry Moore Studio and Gardens, Perry Green, Hertfordshire – former workplace and home of the sculptor, each year displaying 20 of his pieces. Open end of March to October.
  • Jupiter Artland, Wilkieston, nr Edinburgh – a collection of contemporary sculptures, with permanent and temporary exhibitions.
  • Kielder Art and Architecture Trail, Northumberland – interactive exhibits on a huge scale.
  • Irwell Sculpture Trail, Greater Manchester – 70 sculptures along the 30 mile trail from Bacup to Salford Quays.
  • Broomhill Sculpture Garden, Devon – boutique hotel and restaurant with a garden with 150 sculptures. You need to book in advance.
  • Compton Verney’s Art in the Park – a lovely good value day out, some of the sculptures are permanent, others are temporary. Lots of family activities, as well as indoor art galleries.
  • University of Warwick sculpture park, Coventry – open to the public, sculptures can be seen around the campus site. There’s usually a family fun trail leaflet you can download as well as the more traditional version.
  • Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail, Cardiff – woodland trail with artworks throughout.
cello shaped sculpture warwick arts centre
University of Warwick
Henry moore sculpture

Previous trails

It’s always worth keeping an eye out for trails that are returning in future. Some are annual events, so if the one in your area is fninished for the year, sign up for a newsletter or follow on social media to find out more about returning events in future.

Oxford Gromit Unleashed trail experience (2018)

N has seen Shaun the Sheep on children’s tv, but never seen Wallace and Gromit, but he doesn’t mind a trail.  Especially when there’s a prize involved at the end.  The Gromit Unleashed tour cost us £2 which goes towards the Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal and supports sick children in hospitals.

Rather than being all around the city, the trail was based in the Westgate shopping centre. That meant it was perfect for a drizzly day.  No worries about getting drenched while looking for them, although it can get busy when you want to photograph them.

gromits story board in oxford
inside Gromits kennel

Most were Gromit, although there were a couple of Shaun statues too.  And we loved the cheese and teapot sculptures too.  The cheese was a perfect size for N to sit on and check out the trail map.

teapot sculpture in oxford

What I loved is how a trail round a shopping centre keeps N happy.  He doesn’t moan about being near shops, although I wasn’t on a shopping mission unfortunately.  If you’re out with the whole family, it’s the perfect opportunity to leave the OH and kids to do the trail while you shop.

gromit dreams and balloons
gromit on the roof at westgate centre
Gromit wings
another gromit unleashed

We found it a good way to check out the whole of the shopping centre.  With only 10 statues to find, it didn’t take long (we did it in a couple of stages as our castle tour was in the middle.  It’s lovely to see children’s excitement at first finding the Gromit, and then seeing all the colour, pattern and theme of each one. And N got to choose a Gromit keyring at the end for completing the trail. He’s already decided it’s going on his bookbag.

another gromit unleashed
shanghai shaun the sheep

Hopefully now we’ve had one trail in Oxford, we’ll get more in future. It would be nice to have them stay for longer, and be more wide spread around the city.

Other sculpture trails we’ve visited:

If you know of any more, let me know and I’ll add them. Which trails have you done in the past?

Why not take a look at these similar posts.

days out
oxford walks
days out in Oxfordshire

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  1. I love all the vibrant designs and colours on these statues. We haven’t done a city trail before but there are a couple reasonably near us so I think we’ll make the effort to go on one soon #sharingthebloglove

  2. We love trails like this, and I love the fact that this one is all based quite close together, so perfect for little legs, or a rainy day. And I love the idea of setting my husband off on this while I do some shopping even more! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  3. These are fantastic 🙂 I love the Gromits – really bright and colourful – and great fun to do 🙂

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