Thirty giant Owl sculptures swooped onto Bath’s world famous Royal Crescent yesterday to launch the city’s newest sculpture trail, which begins this month.

The eagerly-anticipated Minerva’s Owls of Bath event takes place between 25 June – 10 September. Altogether, it will feature over 80 large Owl and smaller Owlet sculptures. It is the latest public art sculpture trail from the team behind the hugely popular Lions of Bath in 2010 and King Bladud’s Pigs in 2008 – one of the first major sculpture trails of its kind in the UK.

During the three-month event, beady-eyed visitors will have a hoot spotting the sculptures in tourist hotspots like Pulteney Bridge and the Circus, outside Bath’s shops, restaurants and hotels, and residing in surrounding towns such as Bradford-on-Avon, Newton St Loe, Corsham and Street.

Present at the launch were representatives from several schools including The Paragon, Kingswood Prep and Weston All Saints Primary, who have sponsored and decorated a collection of smaller Owlets. These artistic creations will nest permanently at the schools after the trail finishes, remaining as a legacy of the Minerva’s Owls of Bath trail.

‘Owl Boy’ Jack Hill from Weston All Saints Primary School

The project takes inspiration from the Roman Goddess of Wisdom, Minerva, to whom the Roman Baths Temple was dedicated in the 1st century AD, and whose symbol was the all-seeing owl of wisdom.

Each owl has been sponsored by businesses and organisations from across the region who have worked alongside some of the best artists from the South West and beyond, to create an array of colourful, bespoke designs.

Amongst the Owls on display at the Royal Crescent today were:

– ‘Owl and the Pussy Cat’ for headline sponsor SouthGate Bath, designed by Jane Callan.

– ‘Emily’ sponsored by Norland College who is named after the founder of the college which is currently celebrating its 125th anniversary and has been decorated by Vera Carbin.

– ‘IsamBIRD Kingdom BrunOWL’ sponsored by Great Western Railway, created by Rita Lazaro, which will be flying off on tour to Paddington Station, Swindon and Bristol Temple Meads before landing at Bath Spa station in August.

– ‘Bird of Play’, an interactive owl with kaleidoscope eye to peer through to see unique multi-faceted images, designed and sponsored by award-winning digital content creators Complete Control

– ‘Festiv’Owl’, sponsored by Emery builders, the official installers of the flock and designed by Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown, including hundreds of illustrations from the popular book series in celebration of their 25th anniversary.

– ‘Digitowl’, designed by John Gould complete with virtual reality headset, which lights up at night, on behalf of Bath Quays.

– ‘Artis’, sponsored by The ArtBar at The Abbey Hotel, designed by Emma Taylor with stunning illustrations of Bath interspersed with bright cocktail imagery.

The Owls of Bath trail is perfect for those in search of a free family day out during the summer holidays. The trail is accompanied by a free education pack available to download from the website, crammed full of owl-inspired activities from crafts to environmental projects.

Owl trail maps will be available for a donation of £2 from outlets across the city, including the Visitor Information Centre, Waterstones and Bath Aqua Glass.

In addition, the trail will be accompanied by a free App, which can be downloaded from QR codes on each owls’ plinth from Monday 25 June. Anyone armed with the app will then receive information about owls as they approach (from interactive beacons in each Owl) plus a fun question to answer for the chance to win a luxury break in Bath at the end of the event.

Each owl will also have Tap and Donate QR/NFC codes on the owl plinths so that people can make donations to the Owls of Bath charities via their mobile phones.

At the end of the event, all the owls will be gathered together for a final ‘Hoot Farewell’ weekend on 6-7 October 2018, before being auctioned off to raise money for four local charities – the new Royal United Hospital Cancer Centre, the Bath Young Carers Centre, the Roman Baths Archway Project and the UK Little Owl Project, which is based in Bath.

For more information about the trail, sponsors and artists, or to download the free app, map and education pack, visit the Minerva’s Owls website at www.minervasowls.org or follow @OwlsofBath on Twitter and Instagram.