CIRENCESTER is bracing itself for an invasion of five foot hares this March as a new festival aims to put the town on the map through a creative and exciting art trail.

The Cirencester March Hare Festival 2014 will see an abundance of fibre glass model hares distributed across the town ranging from towering five foot creatures outdoors to miniature hares perching in shop windows.

“They will be on pavements, in parks, restaurants and around landmarks,” explained March Hare project leader Florence Beetlestone. “The idea is that local companies and businesses will want to sponsor a hare, they will then be decorated by their chosen artists to reflect their values and style before all going on display.

“We hope it will really capture the imagination of the town and help boost our local economy and footfall,” she added.

The hares will be decorated by local artists, schools and celebrities. Inspiration has been taken from similar projects like the popular Gromit Unleashed trail in Bristol.

"We've had lots of great festivals just recently in Cirencester such as the Phoenix festival," said Mayor of Cirencester Joe Harris. "Cirencester is finally becoming a place where things are actually going on. It's not just a small Cotswolds town. It's great to be celebrating the culture of the area and getting everyone involved too.

"The hares go back to our Roman heritage too and the festival will make more people aware of that."

The hares are already available to sponsor and cost £1,200 for a business hare and £4,000 for a premium hare. A limited amount of community hares (also £1,200) are also available for shops and community groups that want to sponsor one together.

There will also be 50 life-size hare models, at £200, for smaller businesses to sponsor and have decorated to display in shop windows, cafes and restaurants.

Cirencester Chamber of Commerce Anthony Flynn welcomed the intiative and said it was a great idea to help boostthe local economy.

"Similar schemes have proved very successful in other places, so we are positive about the Cirencester Hares," he added.

"We have lots of great people and businesses in Cirencester, but as a town, we don't seem to have as good a collective personality as we should. Perhaps this is the event we can all get behind and as a result inject some more fun into the town."

The festival is being run by the Cirencester Community Development Trust with proceeds from the sale of hares going to Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust for the development of the Churn walkway.

For more information or to sponsor a hare call 01285 655646 or visit