Get ready…Fantastical Beasts are coming to Barnsley town centre!

This is something you don’t want to miss; eight huge fantastical beasts – including a unicorn, gryphon and kestrel – are waiting to be discovered in Barnsley town centre. A special aquatic ‘bonus beast’ can be found outside the Barnsley Metrodome.

From Saturday 29 May to Sunday 13 June, Barnsley town centre will welcome a series of giant willow sculptures of Fantastical Beasts inspired by local creatures and legends.

Be sure to look out for a whale inspired by the real-life tale of Jonah the 70ft finback who visited Barnsley in the 1970s and a lion based on the stranger-than-fiction story of Ben the cub who was kept as an unlikely ‘guard dog’ in Cudworth.

Download the trail map from www.barnsley.gov.uk/events so you know where to discover these fantastical beasts – don’t worry they’re not too far apart but you’ll get chance to get in some steps as you explore the town centre, and there are plenty of great places to stop and refuel, including Market Kitchen, home to Dolly’s Desserts who might just have a delicious beast themed dessert on offer.

This free family trail starts at the town hall and includes locations at Barnsley Markets, Barnsley College, Library @the Lightbox, St. Mary’s Church, Barnsley Interchange, Churchfield Peace Gardens and other areas, showcasing these wonderful willow sculptures.

Make sure you take part in the 'Selfie Challenge'; upload your best beastly photos to the Love Barnsley Town Centre Facebook page – use the hashtag #FantasticalBarnsley for the chance to win a £50 Barnsley Gift Card.

Learn some fun and interesting facts about these wonderful willow beasts and see how your favourite stands up to the other creatures by downloading the fun card game where you can compare their strength, speed, size and best of all their Barnsleyness factor! With the iconic kestrel scoring 100 /100 for Barnsleyness - just download the card game at www.barnsley.gov.uk/events.

These amazing sculptures have been designed by five renowned artists from across Yorkshire and the North West, with each fantastical beast bringing a local legend to life.

Sarah Gallagher-Hayes, willow sculptor of Twigtwisters studied sculpture at Southampton University and the world-famous Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice and has been making willow sculptures for 25 years.

Sarah produced the whale, elephant and kestrel for the Fantastical Barnsley Beasts Twisted event.

Sarah said: “I started out working with metal but once I discovered willow I was drawn to the natural flow of the material and the environmental aspect of using a sustainable material.

“I love adding character to my work, bringing the sculptures to life and giving them a personality. I based the whale on the whale in the 1970’s Pinocchio film, but the elephant and kestrel are more true to life - although I would be scared if a kestrel that size was flying towards me!

“It has been so much fun working on the Twisted project, I can’t wait to see and how people in Barnsley respond to them”.

Jane Foddy of Ginger Cat Willow Sculptures produced ‘Sigmund the Unicorn’ for the event.  Sigmund made an appearance in a photo earlier this week to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of Barnsley’s official twinning with Schwabisch Gmund in Germany, as the unicorn is their official emblem.

Jane said: “I jumped at the chance to make a unicorn for Barnsley as I could base my creature on my beloved horses. My aim was to make a mystical, powerful, proud unicorn; I hope you like him he was certainly a joy to make.”

Don’t miss this chance to see Barnsley’s Fantastical Beasts – they really are a sight to behold – it’s a free family event, perfect for the half-term holiday. 

Visit www.barnsley.gov.uk/events for more information.

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