The Elephant Parade in London

May 8, 2010

The Elephant parade is here in London. It’s not the return of the Sultan’s Elephant, a three-day event where a giant mechanical Elephant, with an equally super-sized little girl, took over central London in 2006. This is a collection of over 250 Elephants, individually designed by artists and celebrities and dotted around the capital for a short time before they’re auctioned to raise funds for the conservation of Asian Elephants. There’s a website called the http://elephantparadelondon.org/ where you can get more information, if you’re interested. In the meantime, for those of us who live here, or happen to be visiting, we can go in search of these Elephants by either downloading a route map from the site, or going organic and discover them by accident. We can then admire the designs. Here are a few I managed to find in the centre of town.

Two elephants from the elephant parade in London

Two more elephants from the elephant parade in London

A small group of painted elephants in green park

I thought I’d add a version of Nelly The Elephant by the Toy Dolls. Let’s just say it gives a different feel to the original. I love it.



  1. It kind of reminds me of the buddy bear thing in Berlin where I liked the idea but found the bears pretty hideous. The elephants look much cuter.

    • I had a look at the buddy bear site. It runs on a similar idea, doesn’t it? Using painted familiar animals and placing them in the street. The theme of the buddy bear is dialogue and world peace from what I could make of it, because each bear has been decorated by an artist representing their nation. Some of the bears are good, but you’re right. Some of the others are ugly.

      • In the case of the bears they choose the bear because it’s Berlin’s heraldic animal. And to me it was just the mass of the bears and the fact that at some point they appeared completely commercialized that made this project not completely successful to me. The elephant project seems much more focused – let’s help save the Asian elephant by using elephant sculptures. Sounds like a good plan. 😉

        • That’s a shame. It’s hard to keep commercialisation out of these things I suppose. This project is definitely more focused. There are special elephant shops set up as concessions in stores like Selfridges where you can buy an elephant in various sizes for yourself. You’d need a big home or garden if you wanted to make a bid for the large ones.

          • I think it started otu focused with the bears as well but you’re right, it is hard to keep the commerce out. Especially when you really want to do something good and are aware what you could do with all that money…

  2. The elephant designs are so whimsical! It was a joy to read about this.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. As much as I like these elephants, nothing for me so far has matched the Sultan’s elephant, which was the last big street event here in London. There are clips on YouTube if you want to have a look. Although it happened in May 2006, it still makes me smile when I think of it, or look at the photos I took at the time because it was such an amazing event.

      • These are great pictures. And now that you’ve mentioned the Sultan’s elephants and because it’s got such an exotic name/theme, I’d love to see your pictures of them too. Or is there a website where I might find them, besides youtube, I mean?

        • I wasn’t sure if the website for it was still around, given that the event happened four years ago, but I found it. Have a look at it all here http://www.thesultanselephant.com/.

          I may write about it, but I’ll space it out with a few posts first. Do have a look at the YouTube videos if you can. Although the photos are amazing, you have to see it moving to really appreciate the scale and inventiveness of it. The music is fabulous too.

  3. That’s a bit cool!!

    • Yeah, it’s good, isn’t it? I hope to find and take a shot of all 250 of them. I think it’ll take a while.

  4. Wow these are fantastic -will definitely try and pack our trunks and head down for a weekend in London to catch these! Thanks for sharing!!

  5. How wonderful. One more reason that I need to hop the pond and visit. We had something similar in my home town only it was cars instead of elephants. I have to say the elephant idea seems way more fun.

    • I like the sound of the cars one. It’s really interesting to find similar things are/have been happening around the world. I think the elephants are around until July if you are thinking of coming over. Thanks for having a look at my blog.

  6. Love that as an artistic concept and fundraiser. I saw something similar using winged horses near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina during the wright Brothers centennial. The horses are still prominently featured around the area.

    Elephant Conservation is such a great cause!

    • We seem to be good at that kind of thing here. I like the sound of the winged horses in North Carolina. I may have a little google to see if I can find pics of them.

  7. Those are great! I like the second one in camouflage!:)

    • This is, but a small sample of the 250 dotted around London. I’m determined to find all of them.

  8. Wow! This is the first time I’ve seen this elephant festival. Looks like a lot of fun! So pretty and unique.. wonder where they got the idea

    • I have no idea. Click on the link in my main article and that should tell you how they came up with it.

  9. Oh wow. I wish we had elephants like this. The designs are just beautiful. Would be hard to be in a bad mood around these happy chaps.

    • They’re great, aren’t they?

      I have to say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the response to this post. I think we desperately crave for evidence of happy, positive things happening worldwide, because the darker side of life is more than well represented. I’m glad you enjoyed them.

  10. my friend has been invited to be part of a big sculpture project happening in Hull…it’s similar to this, but with an army of giant toads instead: http://www.hullbusinessforum.com/news/2010/03/business_sponsorship_drive_for_larkin_with_toads_l_1/
    trippy or what?

    check out my blog here: http://theproducerexperiment.wordpress.com/

    • These trip induced animals are everywhere! Thanks for stumbling across my blog. I’ve had a quick look at yours. You’re a funny one. I’ve bookmarked you and hope to drop in from time to time, given that there are only 24 hours in a day and that I’ll be awake for around 18 of them.

  11. In Austin, TX…they have a bunch of guitars painted in similar fashion throughout the city. I love the artistic finds hidden throughout cities. My favorite things to find? Great people, art, music and food!

    • I agree with all the above, sir. If you don’t have any, or all of these, then life is one long painful austerity. I imagine Austin is the right place to have painted guitars. Or do you say gee-tarrs?! Welcome to my blog. Pop in again when you get a moment.

  12. Did you HAVE to put Nelly the Elephant on the end of this? I heard it the other day and was annoyed that perhaps northerners are only famous for Toy Dolls, the Futureheads and Sting. If only I could perhaps squeeze Brian Ferry in there!
    Anyways, lovely images of the elephants – they must’ve taken ages to craft!

    • I didn’t even know the Toy Dolls were Northern – I just liked the song!

      Worry not, Scarlet. I’m sure there are plenty of credible artists in your neck of the woods, like Brian Ferry. To be honest, I don’t usually rush to check the provenance of the artist. If the music is good, that’s good enough for me.

  13. They do something like this (or did) in Chicago (when I lived there)..VERY neat!

    • Yeah, it’s good, isn’t it? Hello and welcome to my blog. Come again when you get a spare moment.

  14. So PIE how many have you spotted? Went on the Elephant hunt yesterday and managed to find about 67 (with photos) with another 3 or so today as I was driving around Londinium (Speakers corner and Brixton! but not photos yet)
    It was a loverly sunday afternoon – made even nicer by the fact that strangers were talking to each other! I don’t think so many strangers have spoken to each other as they hunted too! Firstly a nice family gave us a spare Elephant map they had outside the Opera House. Then at other places as I scoured my map to tick off whichever elephant i came across strangers would come up and ask where i got that map from or things like how many we had found or which was my favourite!
    Oh the elephants! Long may they live!

    • I have no idea how many Elephants I’ve found so far. I make sure I have my little camera with me at all times in case I bump into them. I found a whole set at the South Bank on Saturday and I expect I’ll find some more over the next month.

      Sounds like you had a great time on Sunday – keep finding those Elephants!

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