THE RUN UP to the grand finale to this year's popular Cotswold Hare Trial began last Sunday with the grand opening of the Farewell to Hares exhibition in Cirencester.

Tens of thousands of people have followed the trail across the Cotswolds this summer, and from last Sunday, September 16, visitors had the opportunity to see all 128 Cotswold hares together for the first time at a special pre-auction show at the Kings Head Hotel.

Trail explorers and art lovers have also had the chance to see their favourite designs again during the exhibition which is open daily, from 10am to 6pm.

Highly individual and creatively decorated hare designs showcase everything including blooms, butterflies and horse racing -there is a one-of-a-kind sculpture to suit every taste.

Here is a special video giving a glimpse of the treats the farewell exhibition has in store:

Following the farewell exhibition, on Friday, September 21, the hand-painted hares, springers and leverets will be auctioned live at , with auction proceeds going to two Cotswolds AONB charitable projects.

Martin Lane of Cotswolds AONB, said: “We’re very impressed with the quality and beauty of this year’s hares, and are delighted to be the trail’s partner.

"We are dedicated to conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the Cotswolds, while increasing awareness and enjoyment of it, which this year’s trail has clearly achieved.

“We ask that people are generous with their auction bids, as the money raised will support both our work to ensure residents and tourists can continue to enjoy the Cotswolds AONB for many more years to come.”

Florence Beetlestone, trail organiser, added: “I’m sure many have already picked their must-have hares to bid on - I know I have my favourites! So please bid generously.

"All of the net proceeds from the auction will go towards supporting our beautiful and world renowned Cotswolds lansdcape.”

The online auction will run until Friday, October 5, with no limit on the number of hares that can be bid on.

For more details about the final exhibition, and register to bid visit