The Big Belfast Trail has officially launched to the public today [Monday, June 20th], as a herd of “elephant-astic” sculptures make a colourful splash by popping up in iconic locations, landmarks and open spaces throughout the city centre.
The free, family-friendly art trail runs for ten weeks, until August 31st, and features over seventy uniquely decorated sculptures designed by local or international artists, local schools and community groups. Each sculpture is a different take on David McKee’s popular children’s character Elmer the Patchwork Elephant.
Elmer’s Big Belfast Trail is organised by the Northern Ireland Hospice in partnership with Wild in Art and Andersen Press. The trail is in aid of NI Hospice and is part of its celebrations to mark 21 Years of Care at Children’s Hospice, Horizon House.
A number of the Elmer artists, trail sponsors, participating local schools and youth groups gathered for the launch event to see the final Elmer sculpture arrive in style in a convoy of branded Elmer vehicles, before it was placed on its plinth at the SS Nomadic in the Titanic Quarter, as schoolchildren from Sunnylands Primary in Carrickfergus serenaded Elmer with an elephant-themed song.
Many of the sculptures pay tribute to the history and spirit of Belfast city, from the linen industry to C.S. Lewis, Titanic, and even a Game of Thrones design, with others touching on themes such as the natural beauty of Northern Ireland, environmentalism, the NHS, pride, fairy tales, folklore, Hospice, graffiti, diversity and inclusivity.
In a speech in the Titanic Hotel to officially launch Elmer’s Big Belfast Trail, Northern Ireland Hospice Chief Executive Heather Weir said: “After more than a year in the planning, today I am delighted to be able to launch Elmer’s Big Belfast Trail and share it with the people of Belfast and beyond. Now the excitement and the fun can really begin!
“This is the biggest event that the NI Hospice have ever undertaken and it’s huge for Belfast too. I am sure it will delight the whole city.
“As well bringing communities and businesses together for what will be this summer’s feel-good event, the trail will help fund the specialist care which our team provides for local babies, children and young people living with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses. Elmer’s stories all promote positivity, compassion, inclusivity and care, all these values align closely with NI Hospice and we’re so pleased that Elmer is helping us raise awareness of our important work in the local community.”
Charlie Langhorne, Managing Director and Co-founder Wild in Art said, “It’s been an honour for our team to partner with Northern Ireland Hospice and Andersen Press to bring Elmer’s Big Belfast Trail to life. The Elmer sculptures are a fantastic spectacle and showcase a wonderful wealth of artistic talent. We hope everyone will enjoy discovering them.”
Paul Black, PR and Brand Director at Andersen Press said, “Everyone at Andersen is delighted to be working with Northern Ireland Hospice and Wild in Art on this wonderful event. Elmer’s messages of kindness, friendship and inclusivity are at the heart of everything Northern Ireland Hospice does, so we’re over-the-moon that Elmer can play a part in spreading that message and raising much-needed funds for an incredible charity.”
It is estimated that around one million people will take part in Elmer’s Big Belfast Trail, which will deliver a boost of £10m to the local economy this summer.
To find out more about Elmer’s Big Belfast Trail visit elmerbelfast.co.uk or download the ElmerBelfast app for free from the App Store or Google Play.