BLOG: The Big Dog Art Trail...all You Need To Know - The Big Dog Art Trail

BLOG: The Big Dog Art Trail…all you need to know

Date published: 15 June 2023

The Big Dog Art Trail comes to Swindon…

With just one month to go until the launch of The Big Dog Art Trail, it’s about time you have everything you need to go walkies in Swindon this summer.

So, what is it?

More than 30 larger than life balloon dog sculptures – the Swindogs – are set to be unleashed across Swindon during the summer of 2023.

As well as the supersized balloon dogs, we’ve also got 42 smaller Swinpup sculptures for you to discover, which have mainly been created by local schools, colleges and community groups.

The uniquely decorated sculptures will create the UK’s first-ever balloon dog art trail and will raise essential funds for the local children’s hospice charity, Julia’s House.

Brought to you by Julia’s House and global public art producer, Wild in Art, The Big Dog Art Trail will create a free walking trail through some of Swindon’s most well-loved and historic parks, landmarks and streets and will shine a light on art and culture in the heart of the town.

And when is it?

The art trail will run from 15 July to 3 September 2023.

The trail will end with a grand farewell finale where all of the Swindog sculptures will be brought together under one roof at the Steam Museum on Saturday, 16 September, and Sunday, 17 September.

The giant one-of-a-kind sculptures will then head off to their forever homes after being adopted at a special auction event on Tuesday, 19 September, to raise money for Julia’s House children’s hospice.

Where can we see a Swindog?

There will be 30 Swindogs and 42 Swinpups placed around Swindon in the UK’s first-ever balloon dog art trail, which will cover 16 miles between them.

Now we can announce that the sculptures will be at the following locations, with some locations hosting multiple dogs…

You will be able to find the Swinpups at the following locations…

  • North Swindon Library
  • Central Library
  • West Swindon Library
  • Pinetrees Community Centre
  • The Wyvern Theatre
  • The McArthurGlen Designer Outlet

Ahead of the opening weekend of the trail, there will be physical maps available purchase for a small donation going to Julia’s House and an app where you can collect the sculptures, redeem rewards and find out more about their artists and the companies sponsoring them.

Who is involved?

We have been busy getting local companies and individuals to join the pack and support this fantastic trail.

With the following already on board to help us deliver the best trail possible…


Imagine Cruising – community partner Swindon Borough Council – learning programme partner Swindon Advertiser – media partner Beard – logistics partner


National Self Build & Renovation Centre McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Swindon Nationwide Intel Jazzbones Swindon Wildcats Better Annabel Karmel Wyvern Theatre Arval Zurich Telenco UK Persimmon Homes Swindon’s Bus Company Dick Lovett The Business Exchange TrustSTFC Swindon Town Football Club Zelf Old Town Business Association Hanson CG Utilities The Wasdell Group Tunnocks RWE Generation OneFamily


Mike Pringle
Marta Zubieta
Caroline Parrott
Donna Newman
David King Reuben
Jane Morgan
Kitty Shepherd
Michelle Heron
Hannah Dosanjih
Donna Newman
Steve Curtis
Jess Perrin
Phil Daniels
Jane Mota
Morgan Guillery
Judy Guillery
Glen Brooks
Julie Greenaway
Gem Van Gils
Hannah Jayne-Lewin
Liam Kelleher
Robert Mach
David Mach
Tim Sutcliffe
Harrie Dearing

And a round of a-paws for the schools too!

Not forgetting the schools and community groups who have been busy designing their very own Swinpup, just like the Swindogs but smaller, and participating in The Big Dog Art Trail Learning Programme.

Young learners have had the chance to come up with a PAWS-ome design and paint their very own Swinpup sculpture, which will feature on this summer’s trail, as well as each raising £500 for Julia’s House. The Swinpups will then return to their forever homes for schools and communities to enjoy for years to come.

The Big Dog Art Trail’s unique, creative learning adventure for children and young people is being supported by Swindon Borough Council, the trail’s official Learning Programme Partner.

To find out more here…

Learning Programme

What is it for?

The aim of the trail is to raise money and awareness for Julia’s House.

Julia’s House is your local children’s hospice charity, providing a lifeline of care for the most seriously ill children and their families in Swindon and across Wiltshire and Dorset.

Each family we support is unique and so is the care we provide. When a family finds out that their child has a very serious medical condition, their world falls apart. Julia’s House exists to help these children and their families.

Find out more and meet some of the families this trail will support here.

Sounds great, how do I get involved?

We will be launching The Big Dog Art Trail 2023 app before the trail goes live in July, which will enable you to see the locations of all the Swindogs and Swinpups across Swindon, tick off the sculptures you have spotted and redeem rewards.

Keep an eye out for our paper maps landing at STEAM Musem and Lydiard House Museum in July as well.

Why not become a trail volunteer? You can find out more information about volunteering here –

For all the latest news, sign up to our Big Woof newsletter below.



The Big Dog Team want to make your experience hunting for the Swindogs across Swindon the best it can be, so we’ve compiled some of the most common questions to help you go walkies…


Where can I download the app?

The Big Dog Art Trail 2023 app is available to download from the App Store and Google Play. You can find download links and all the information you need at our app page here.


What can I do in the app?

Everything you need to know about the trail is in The Big Dog Art Trail 2023 app. You can find out how to use the app and discover FAQs here: App – The Big Dog Art Trail

You can:

  • View the location of all the Swindogs and Swinpups on a map, including which ones are nearest to your location.
  • View all the sculptures, so you can see what they look like, who the artist is, who the sponsor is and its location. You can also find out more about the artist here and read the inspiration behind their unique design.
  • Unlock rewards from sponsors by ‘collecting’ the Swindogs. To do this, you click the pink ‘+’ button on the app and enter the 4 digit code displayed at the Swindog you’re visiting. The more you collect, the more rewards you unlock!
  • Vote for your favourite sculptures by clicking the heart button on each sculpture description.
  • Upload your photos: each sculpture page on the app will have a gallery where you can upload your own photos of the Swindog, selfies welcome!
  • Check out your stats. On the stats tab you’ll be able to see which Swindogs and Swinpups are the most loved and most collected, as well as using the pedometer feature to count the amount of steps you’ve taken on the trail, how many Swindogs you’ve collected and how many rewards you have. You’ll be able to share all your stats on your own social media profiles!
  • Check out events involving the trail, including the farewell weekend and auction.
  • Donate to Julia’s House, your local children’s hospice charity.


How can I report an issue with the app?

Found a bug or issue with the app? Get in touch with the team here.


How can I report issues such as a damaged Swindog?

If you notice any damage to a Swindog or Swinpup while you’re on the trail, you can report it by TEXT  07467 849 989.


Where can I find the Swindogs and Swinpup?

The Swindogs and Swinpups have gone walkies across Swindon! You can see the locations of both the large Swindogs and the smaller Swinpups on the physical trail map and on the Big Dog app, which will even highlight which ones are nearest to your location at the time.


Where can I get a trail map for The Big Dog Art Trail?

Maps are available for a suggested donation of £1 at the following locations:

  • North Swindon Library

Address: Orbital Retail Park, Thamesdown Drive, Swindon, SN25 4AN

Current opening hours:

Monday – 14:00 to 18:00

Tuesday – closed

Wednesday – 10:00 to 14:00

Thursday – closed

Friday – 13:00 to 17:00

Saturday – 10:00 to 14:00

Sunday – 11:00am to 15:00

  • Central Library

Address: Regent Circus, Swindon, SN1 1QG

Current opening hours:

Monday – 10:00 to 17:30

Tuesday – 10:00 to 17:30

Wednesday – 10:00 to 17:30

Thursday – 10:00 to 17:30

Friday – 10:00 to 17:30

Saturday – 10:00 to 16:00

Sunday – closed

  • West Swindon Library

Address: Link Centre, Whitehill Way, Swindon, SN5 7DL

Current opening hours:

Monday – 10:00 to 17:00

Tuesday – 10:00 to 14:00

Wednesday – 12:00 to 17:00

Thursday – closed

Friday – 10:00 to 17:00

Saturday – 10:00 to 13:00

Sunday – closed

  • Pinetrees Community Centre

Address: The Circle, Pinehurst, SN2 1QR

Current opening hours

Monday – 08:00 to 19:00

Tuesday – 08:00 to 21:30

Wednesday – 08:00 to 20:30

Thursday – 08:00 to 20:30

Friday – 08:00 to 16:00

Saturday – 09:00 to 12:00

Sunday – 09:00 to 16:00

  • The McArthurGlen Designer Outlet

Address: Kemble Drive, Swindon, SN2 2DY

Current opening hours

Monday – 10:00 to 20:00

Tuesday – 10:00 to 20:00

Wednesday – 10:00 to 20:00

Thursday – 10:00 to 20:00

Friday – 10:00 to 20:00

Saturday – 10:00 to 20:00

Sunday – 10:00 to 18:00

  • STEAM Museum shop

Address: Fire Fly Avenue, Swindon, SN2 2EY

Current opening hours

Monday – 10:00 to 17:00

Tuesday – 10:00 to 17:00

Wednesday – 10:00 to 17:00

Thursday – 10:00 to 17:00

Friday – 10:00 to 17:00

Saturday – 10:00 to 17:00

Sunday – 11:00 to 16:00

  • Lydiard House Hotel

Address: Lydiard House & Park, Lydiard Tregoze, Swindon, SN5 3PA

Current opening hours

Open all hours, Monday to Sunday


Where can I buy Big Dog Art Trail merchandise?

Merchandise will be on sale at the STEAM Museum shop and the Lydiard House Museum shop, during their opening hours.


How long will it take to walk the trail?

The trail covers 16 miles, so you may need to set aside a day to do it in full. However, we recommend you take your time and complete the trail across several days over the summer holidays.


Can I touch the Swindogs?

Our Swindogs and Swinpups are a little nervous and fragile, so please do not climb, sit on, or touch the sculptures. They are however happy to pose for a photo or selfie, which you can upload on each individual Swindog’s page on the Big Dog Art Trail 2023 app!


Can I take photographs?

We’d love you to take photographs of your favourite Swindogs and Swinpups.  Use the app to share your photos and selfies in the gallery.  And, don’t forget to tag us if you share any photos on your social media and use #BigDogArtTrail.

Can I bring my dog along the trail?

We are big (and small!) dog lovers and we’d love you to bring your pooch along on parts of the trail. However, please check location websites before you set off, as some of our indoor sculpture locations do not allow dogs, except for guide dogs and assistance dogs… and Swindogs too!


Are you on social media?

Yes! Follow us on Facebook (The Big Dog Art Trail), Twitter (@BigDogArtTrail), Instagram (@bigdogarttrail), and TikTok (@bigdogarttrail)

Make sure you tag us in your photos and use the hashtag #bigdogarttrail, we’d love to see them!


Is the trail free? 

Yes! However, if you enjoy the trail, we would love you to make a small donation to Julia’s House Children’s Hospice charity to help us to continue to care for the most seriously ill children and their families in Swindon and across Wiltshire.  You can donate here or scan the QR code next to your favourite sculpture.

How can I donate to/support Julia’s House children’s hospice?

You can donate to Julia’s House here or scan the QR code next to the sculptures. Or, just use one of the tap to donate stations available at certain points on the trail.

There are lots of other ways to support Julia’s House too. You can join up to play the Julia’s House lottery, sign up for one of our events, become a volunteer or do your own fundraising.  You could even leave us a legacy in your Will, which costs you nothing right now – legacies help support one in four of the children we care for.  All the information you need is on the website

Who’s paying for the Swindogs and Swinpups?

All large Swindog sculptures on the trail have been sponsored and funded by local businesses who were keen to be involved in this Swindon-wide community art event. The Swinpup sculptures are part of The Big Dog Art Trail Learning Programme which is being supported by Swindon Borough Council, the trail’s official Learning Programme Partner, with an £80,000 allocation from a special UK Government levelling up grant to part-fund the event.  Schools taking part in the Learning Programme have also been fundraising for their Swinpup sculptures.  It’s thanks to this huge support from the local community that Julia’s House and Wild in Art have been able to put on The Big Dog Art Trail in Swindon.

What happens to the money raised by the trail?

All funds raised from The Big Dog Art Trail will go towards supporting Julia’s House, your local children’s hospice charity. The Julia’s House nurses and carers provide a lifeline of care to the most seriously ill local children and their families.

Is there a start point and end point for the trail?

There is no specific start or end point to the trail. Use the map or app to plan the best route for you.

Are the sculptures accessible at all times?

A number of sculptures are placed indoors or in gated parks and will not be accessible outside of the venue’s opening hours. We recommend you check the venue opening times before you set out.


Is the trail accessible for wheelchairs?

Yes, it is fully accessible.


Who are the artists?

All the artists are listed here Artists – The Big Dog Art Trail Swindon 2023


When is the Farewell Weekend? 

All the Swindog and Swinpup sculptures will be brought together under one roof for the last time at the Farewell Weekend at the STEAM Museum on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September between 10am – 5pm.  Don’t miss this unique opportunity to see all of the amazing sculptures together for their final bow wow! Find out more here.


I want to buy a Swindog sculpture?

You can bid for your favourite Swindon sculpture at the Grand Auction to be held at 7-9pm on 19 September at the STEAM Museum. Find out more here.


How do I get to Swindon and the trail?

BY CAR: Swindon is at junction 16 of the M4 motorway.

BY TRAIN: Swindon station has direct services from London, south west England and south : Wales. For details and booking go to  Buy cheap train tickets | Great Western Railway (

BY BUS: Direct coach services to Swindon Bus Station are operated daily by National Express, departing from London Victoria, Oxford, Northampton, Brackley, Bristol, Gloucester & more.

WALKING & CYCLING: Swindon cycle route map is available here Interactive maps | Swindon Travel Choices.

Further information on travelling around Swindon can be found here Swindon Travel Choices – Helping You Make Travel Choices


Is there free parking at the sculptures?

No.  Parking is available throughout Swindon at public car parks and at car parks at Lydiard House, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet and the STEAM Museum.  Disabled parking is also available at these venues.


What else can I do in Swindon?

As well as The Big Dog Art Trail, there’s lots of exciting things to see and do in Swindon.  Find out more information on what’s on and where to go at


How can I find out where to stay?

Details of where to stay can be found at

Your donations make a life-changing difference

Julia’s House is your local children’s hospice charity, providing a lifeline of care for the most seriously ill children and their families across Wiltshire and Dorset.

Each family we support is unique and so is the care we provide. When a family finds out that their child has a very serious medical condition their world falls apart. Julia’s House exists to help these children and their families.

Find out more about Julia’s House
Isabella with Julia's House Team Nurse Molly

Sculptures Artists App Charity