25 February 2014
Themed activity trails, a giant wooden Gruffalo sculpture and a big birthday picnic amongst the trees are coming to Westonbirt, The National Arboretum.
Families in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and beyond are invited into a deep dark wood near their home this year to celebrate The Gruffalo's 15th anniversary with characters from the world-famous picture books.
From April, visitors can join Mouse on his adventure and explore Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s award-winning tale through an activity trail at Westonbirt Arboretum, which is cared for by the Forestry Commission.
The fun-packed partnership kicks off with The Gruffalo activity trail at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum and 27 other forests across England. Westonbirt’s trail will run from 11 April – 31 July. Characters from the stories will lead children through the trees with adventure and intrigue, learning about woods and forests as they go.
From June, a giant wooden sculpture of one of the world's best-loved monsters himself will be hidden at Westonbirt. Another 14 of the 7ft tall sculptures will be hidden in forests across England, for families to track down. The 15 Gruffalos will all be different and are currently being individually-carved in a secret woodland location out of three-ton pieces of timber, each carefully-selected from Forestry Commission sites.
Visitors are also invited to gather at Westonbirt with family and friends on Saturday 7 June to celebrate The Gruffalo’s anniversary with a big birthday forest picnic – inspired by an exciting party pack of forest-inspired picnic ideas, activities and bunting, free to download this spring from the Forestry Commission’s website www.forestry.gov.uk/gruffalo.
Daryl Shute from Magic Light Pictures, the brand building and production company responsible for the award-winning animated Gruffalo films commented:
“The Gruffalo encourages followers to explore the real world with imagination, creativity and a true sense of adventure. With emphasis on learning and the great outdoors, Forestry Commission England is the perfect partner, and we’re delighted to be teaming up with them in this anniversary year to launch these exciting new series of trails across the country.”
“The Gruffalo lives in the natural world so a local forest is the perfect place to set out with Mouse on his journey in search of these magnificent new wooden carvings of one of the nation's favourite children’s picture book characters.”
Simon Hough, recreation manager for the Forestry Commission at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum commented:
“There is no better way to celebrate The Gruffalo than within the deep dark woods and forests that he calls home.
“The Gruffalo is a national treasure and so are our forests and this partnership will really help to bring the story to life and celebrate the anniversary in true Gruffalo style.
“All the activities have been carefully positioned at Forestry Commission sites across the country so you are never more than an hour away from a Gruffalo adventure and we can’t wait to kick-off the celebrations with The Gruffalo activity trails at Westonbirt.”
Details of trails and sculpture locations and the forest birthday picnic party pack are available from www.forestry.gov.uk/gruffalo. Sign up online to find out more about the exciting year of forest celebrations.
Notes to editors:
- The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/england
- Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to five national collections, the arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains nearly 15,000 labelled specimens. Visitor numbers are 350,000 a year, with a membership of over 27,000. Westonbirt Arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford and later developed by his son George Holford. Unlike many arboretums, Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria. Visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt.
- 2014 marks The Gruffalo’s 15th anniversary and The Gruffalo’s Child’s 10th anniversary and will see a range of celebratory events which are being driven by Magic Light Pictures. Starting in March, a national schools tour of Gruffalo themed days will take place in partnership with Film Nation; the Gruffalo birthday month at the Eden Project will be celebrated in May and Gruffalo films will be performed live with the Northern Sinfonia in October. The anniversary year also sees the launch of Gruffalo reading frames with Specsavers along with other new and exciting product ranges including luxury wooden toys from Bajo and anniversary publications from Macmillan's Children's Books.
About Magic Light Pictures
Magic Light Pictures is an award winning brand-building and production company, which creates rich and imaginative experiences for families worldwide.
Magic Light is focussed on growing select family brands with strong stories, evergreen characters and products to cherish. The company produces films, TV and games as well as directly managing licensing, global distribution and marketing.
As well as brand-building Magic Light produces widely – including Oscar-nominated, European Film Award winning feature Chico & Rita, comedy thriller Wild Target and natural history documentary One Life (one of the highest grossing independent UK films of 2011).
Magic Light’s key brand is The Gruffalo, from the best-selling picture books by author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler. Magic Light produced the Oscar and BAFTA-nominated half-hour animated films, The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, and has sold them to over 80 broadcasters worldwide. Magic Light also runs a cross-category international merchandising programme for The Gruffalo brand, with over 40 licensees and 250 products which capture the charm of the original books.
In 2012, Magic Light introduced its new brand, Room on the Broom – based on the best-selling book by Donaldson and Scheffler – with another award-winning half-hour animation and a growing range of merchandise. Room on the Broom won the 2013 Children’s BAFTA for animation.
About The Gruffalo
The Gruffalo is a fast growing classic brand based on the best selling books written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Magic Light Pictures produced two award winning half hour animated films (The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child) and has launched a very successful, high quality merchandising programme which builds on the heritage of this special and much loved property.
First published in 1999 by Macmillan's Children's Books The Gruffalo has been described as a 'modern classic' (The Observer). Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, the book has been translated into 52 different languages. A second book, The Gruffalo's Child, was published in 2004 and together they have sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
In 2009 Magic Light Pictures produced a half hour animated special based on The Gruffalo. First broadcast in the UK on BBC One, Christmas Day 2009, the film was seen by over 10m viewers, then nominated for both an Oscar® and BAFTA Film Award, and has gone on to win numerous international film awards including the Prix Jeunesse 2010. A companion film The Gruffalo's Child premiered on BBC One Christmas 2011 to 10m viewers.
- Alice Holt Forest, Surrey
- Bolderwood, New Forest
- Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Kent
- High Lodge, Thetford Forest, Suffolk
- Wendover Woods, Buckinghamshire
- Jeskyns, Gravesend, Kent
- Birches Valley Forest, Cannock Chase
- Delamere Forest, Cheshire
- Hicks Lodge, Derbyshire
- Sherwood Pines, Nottinghamshire
- Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire
- Top Lodge, Fineshade
- Beechenhurst, Forest of Dean
- Haldon Forest Park, Exeter, Devon
- Cardinham Woods, Bodmin, Cornwall
- Wyre Forest, Worcestershire
- Westonbirt, the National Arboretum, Gloucestershire
- Dalby Forest, Yorkshire
- Guisborough Forest, North Yorkshire
- Whinlatter Forest, Nr Keswick, Cumbria
- Hamsterley Forest, Country Durham
- Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland
- Grizedale Forest, Nr Hawkshead, Cumbria
- Camping in the Forest site: Ashurst
- Camping in the Forest site: Ocknell & Longbeech
- Camping in the Forest site: Holmsley
- Camping in the Forest site: Roundhill
- Camping in the Forest site: Hollands Wood