Giant mechanical fox puppet to tour high streets

A five-metre-tall fox puppet on a scooter will tour seven towns as part of a Historic England project to “celebrate the identity and history of high streets”.

The mechanical puppet, which will be animated by two puppeteers from the inside, has been called Farrah, meaning joy in Arabic.

Historic England said that a fox was chosen as they are “known for their resilience and ability to adapt – just like our high streets have done over the years”.

The tour, called Hi! Street Fest, is part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zones programme – a £95 million government-funded initiative led by Historic England.

The initiative, designed to secure lasting improvements to high streets, has restored historic buildings and given them new uses, and also has a cultural programme.

Hi! Street Fest is the largest and final commission of its cultural programme, which has additional funding from Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Fox puppet
The giant fox puppet is created (Historic England/PA)

The fox puppet is being constructed and will be completed by early June.

It will tour seven places across England, meeting specially created host puppets at street parties and parades, and celebrating each location.

The locations are Lowestoft in Suffolk, Gloucester in Gloucestershire, Wigan in Greater Manchester, Gosport in Hampshire, Middlesbrough in North Yorkshire, Stalybridge in Greater Manchester and Woolwich, south-east London.

The first performance is in Lowestoft as part of the First Light Festival, on June 17.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “Our high streets aren’t just places to shop, they are places where we can come together and celebrate, to have parties and enjoy carnivals.

“This is what Hi! Street Fest is all about and as the finale to our High Streets Heritage Action Zones cultural programme, it will be our largest cultural event to date.

“We know that cultural events on our high streets increase a sense of pride in local places, encourage people to visit their high streets and connect with their local community.

“That’s why these projects are so crucial.

“A giant fox on a scooter visiting locally-created puppets to celebrate the identity and history of high streets is not something to be missed.”