Firms urged to back owl sculpture trail that will bring visitors flocking to city this summer

February 9, 2018

Bath’s economy is set for a boost this summer when 100 individually decorated owl sculptures descend on the city in its third – and most ambitious – public arts sculpture trail.

Minerva’s Owls of Bath 2018 will be brought to the area by the same team behind the enormously popular King Bladud’s Pigs in 2008 – one of the UK’s first major sculpture trails of its kind – and the Lions of Bath two years later. 

The owl sculptures will be placed in and around the streets of Bath for three months to celebrate Bath’s Roman heritage and raise funds for local charities.

Corporate sponsors for the event and for individual sculptures are being sought. Already signed up are retail centre SouthGate Bath, which is main event sponsor, along with Bath BID (Business Improvement District), accountancy group MHA Monahans, car dealer Allen Ford and fundraising group Bath Percent Club as gold sponsors.

Similar recent public art trails in other cities have boosted visitor numbers, increased footfall in shops and museums and generated millions of pounds of extra spending.

During the 10 weeks of Bristol’s Gromit Unleased trail, 900,000 people visited the city specifically to see the statues while footfall in its museums doubled.

And the Great North Snowdogs trail in Tyne and Wear brought in an extra 676,000 visitors over its 10 weeks. Some 64% of them said they visited somewhere new in the area following the trial.

The Minerva’s Owls of Bath project takes its inspiration from the Roman goddess Minerva, to whom the Roman Baths Temple was dedicated in the 1st century AD, and whose animal symbol was the owl of wisdom. 

The 1.1m large owls, which will perch on 40cm high plinths, will be transformed into unique works of art by talented artists, designers and celebrities.  The trail team is now seeking artists to take part. They will receive 20% of the sale price when the owls are auctioned for charity at the culmination of the trail.

Smaller 75cm ‘owlets’ will also be available exclusively for schools, community groups and charities to sponsor and decorate and will belong to them after the event.

The sculptures will be placed around Bath and the surrounding region from the end of June. In September, after nearly three months of public display, they will be gathered together in one giant flock – or ‘parliament’ as a group of owls is known – for a ‘Hoot Farewell’ auction preview weekend in early October. 

Some 16,000 attended the King Bladud’s Pigs ‘farewell’ in front of the Royal Crescent in 2008.

All the large owls will be auctioned for charity in late October while the owlets will return to the schools and community groups that decorated them as a lasting legacy of the event. 

All the event profits will be donated to four local charities – 70% to the Royal United Hospital’s new Cancer Centre and 30% to Bath Young Carers, the Roman Baths Archway Project and the UK Little Owl Project, which is based in Bath. 

Minerva’s Owls event organiser Megan Witty said: “People have been asking us for some time to organise another sculpture trail for the city along similar lines to the popular pigs and lions of Bath sculpture trails. 

“Events like this are a fantastic way of shining a spotlight on our region’s creativity and heritage, increasing visitor numbers, bringing colour and fun activities to the streets of Bath, and raising much needed funds for local charities.”

Businesses and organisations interested in sponsoring an owl are asked to get in touch with the organisers as soon as possible as sculpture numbers are limited.

‘Early bird’ sponsorship offers are available until March 5. Sponsors signing up now will benefit from nine months of PR and marketing opportunities of being associated with a positive fundraising initiative, along with staff and client engagement opportunities.

SouthGate Bath centre manager Guy Henderson said: “We’re delighted to have signed up as a headline sponsor of this great campaign that not only celebrates Bath’s rich history but is sure to capture the imagination of Bath residents, visitors and businesses throughout the summer.”

MHA Monahans partner Martin Longmore added: “We are absolutely thrilled to be a gold sponsor. It will provide a substantial boost to tourism in the city and a real sense of fun to visitors and residents alike, while also creating much-needed charitable funds for some very worthy local causes.”

Bath & North East Somerset Council leader Tim Warren, who attended the official launch in the Roman Baths earlier this week, said: “We saw the benefits to the economy from having the lions and pigs before and this will be even bigger.

“It’s also important that the owls will not just be in the city centre, so the benefits to the shops and cafes from extra visitor numbers will be spread around the area.”

For more information or to download a sponsorship pack, visit the Minerva’s Owls website at, contact the owl team at or follow @OwlsofBath on Twitter.


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