Easter joy for families taking part in the Cirencester March Hare Festival 2014

Sheba Luckie (right) aged seven and Molly Bailey, aged eight with the Woolly Jumper hare model outside the Fleece at Cirencester

Nathan Beetlestone, age seven, hunting for hares around Cirencester

First published in News Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

FAMILIES have been going mad for the Cirencester March Hare Festival in the run-up to Easter.

Organisers of the festival were spot on with the timing, unleashing a drove of lavishly-decorated five foot hare models all over town just a week before the school holidays began.

“It’s been absolutely wonderful so far,” said Florence Beetlestone, a member of the organising committee. “I took my two young grandchildren around the trail and they wanted to write down all the names and all the designs.”

The festival was launched on March 29 by celebrity designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen to celebrate the town’s historic connection with the hare and to raise funds for a new wildlife project.

The fun is set to continue throughout the summer with special Red Hare Days planned for the last Friday of every month.

New hare statues to be unveiled this month will include one designed by BBC Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison at Cotswold Water Park and a hare at Cirencester Primary School.

“Artist Kate Dove will also be painting a hare model in front of people which will be put in the Woolmarket and we are having another People’s Hare because the other one is so full up from people writing their name’s on it,” Florence added.

Cirencester mum Victoria Luckie said it was a perfect holiday activity for her daughter Sheba, who has been keen to follow the hare trail and discover all the colourful creatures.

The seven-year-old said her favourite hare so far was Hicarus Hare at Cotswold Airport, or the “angel hare” as she described it.

“The hares are really nice and have all sorts of different designs,” said Sheba. “I like the Egyptian hare in the church.”

Nicole Curtis said her three-year-old daughter Sofia was on a mission to have her picture taken with each model.

“The hare trail is great fun,” said Nicole. “There aren’t many activities in Cirencester for young children and this is a fun day out for them to enjoy.”

The hare trail runs until the end of September. See our map here.

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