Barnsley Fantastical Beasts: Legendary creatures on willow sculptures trail

C’mon Kes!

Promoted by Barnsley Council
Sunday, 6th June 2021, 4:29 pm
The kestrel on family fun trail project called Twisted – Fantastical Beasts
The kestrel on family fun trail project called Twisted – Fantastical Beasts

Barnsley’s most famous bird of prey – the title star of Barry Hines best seller A Kestrel for a Knave and the Ken Loach classic film Kes – is now helping to drive visitors back to the re-opened town centre.

The kestrel is one of nine huge willow sculptures on the family fun trail project, called Barnsley’s Fantastical Beasts, celebrating the town’s creatures and legends as part of Twisted - Barnsley’s Natural Festival of Art.

It is also encouraging folk to return to shop, eat, drink and play after an ease of lockdown.

Instagram selfie opportunities are plentiful with a unicorn, gryphon, lion, bear, big cat, elephant, a giant whale and also a mermaid, all made exclusively to display in Barnsley, on show until Sunday, June 13.

360° PHOTOS: Check out these incredible, immersive 360° photos, with more to follow, this one showing the kestrel in Barnsley market CLICK HERE and a huge bear outside St Mary’s Church CLICK HERE.

MAP: Download the official map to guide you to where all the creatures have been installed – CLICK HERE.

CARD GAME: To play a card game – giving fun and educational details about all the beasts – CLICK HERE.

Sigmund the unicorn is the official emblem of Barnsley’s German twin town Schwabisch Gmund

PHOTO COMPETITION: Enter a Selfie Challenge photo competition, using the hashtag #FantasticalBarnsley, for the chance to win a £50 Barnsley Gift CardCLICK HERE.

Sigmund the unicorn is the official emblem of Barnsley’s German twin town Schwabisch Gmund and celebrates the 50th anniversary of that union.

A fiery gryphon sits proudly at the top of Barnsley’s own coat of arms.

The lion is based on the stranger-than-fiction story of Ben the cub, who was once kept as an unlikely ‘guard dog’ in Cudworth.

This Twisted Fantastical Beasts guide map is free to download

And visitors are promised a whale of a time looking for the sculpture inspired by the real-life event when Jonah, a 70ft finback, was put on show in Barnsley in the 1970s.

Twisted is Barnsley’s Natural Festival of Art developed by Barnsley Council’s Arts and Events Team.

The free family trail starts at the town hall and includes locations at Barnsley Markets, Barnsley College, Library @the Lightbox, St. Mary’s Church, Barnsley Interchange, Churchfield Peace Gardens and other areas, showcasing the sculptures.

The trail map, which can be downloaded at, will show where to discover these fantastical beasts, all closely positioned to the town centre on a 45 minute educational fun walk.

This bear willow sculpture - outside St Mary's Church - celebrates a bear cave sculpture on the Trans Pennine Trail in Royston.

All the sculptures look set to be firm instagram favourites and a Selfie Challenge photo competition is underway to upload your best beastly photos to the Love Barnsley Town Centre Facebook page, with the hashtag #FantasticalBarnsley, for the chance to win a £50 Barnsley Gift Card.

Find out fun and interesting facts about the wonderful willow beasts and see how your favourite stands up to the other creatures, by downloading a fun card game where you can compare their strength, speed, size and best of all their ‘Barnsleyness’ factor! The kestrel scores 100 /100 for ‘Barnsleyness’ - download the card game at

The trail also hopes to encourage more people back to shop, explore, eat and drink in the town, where there are also plenty of social distancing, hand sanitisers and measures to keep people safe.

Market Kitchen, on the top floor of the market, has eateries for every taste and is home to Dolly’s Desserts, who might just have a delicious beast-themed dessert on offer.

The sculptures have been designed by five renowned artists from across Yorkshire and the North West.

Sarah Gallagher-Hayes, willow sculptor of Twigtwisters, studied sculpture at Southampton University and the world-famous Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice and has been making sculptures from willow for 25 years.

Play the Twisted Fantastical Beasts card game - seed free download link in the story

She has produced the whale, elephant and kestrel for the Fantastical Barnsley Beasts Twisted event.

Sarah said: “I started out working with metal but once I discovered willow I was drawn to the natural flow of the material and the environmental aspect of using a sustainable material.

“I love adding character to my work, bringing the sculptures to life and giving them a personality. I based the whale on the whale in the 1970’s Pinocchio film, but the elephant and kestrel are more true to life - although I would be scared if a kestrel that size was flying towards me!

“It has been so much fun working on the Twisted project, I can’t wait to see and how people in Barnsley respond to them”.

Jane Foddy of Ginger Cat Willow Sculptures, produced ‘Sigmund the Unicorn’.

She said: “I jumped at the chance to make a unicorn for Barnsley as I could base my creature on my beloved horses. My aim was to make a mystical, powerful, proud unicorn; I hope you like him he was certainly a joy to make.”

Five artists from Yorkshire and the North West have worked on the project:

Sarah Gallager-Hayes – Twigtwisters; Whale, Kestrel and Elephant.

Jane Foddy, Ginger Cat Willow; Unicorn.

Leiah Vyner – Dragon Willow; Gryphon, Mermaid.

Caroline Gregson – Bear and Lion

Emma Parkins – Big Cat.

For more information visit

Win a Barnsley Gift Card in the Fantastical Barnsley selfie photo competition