To promote the new Paddington bear movie being released (in the UK at least) at the end of the week, there are 50 statues of Paddington bears designed by artists, designers and celebrities sprinkled throughout London. The story of Paddington Bear began when the author, Michael Bond, bought a teddy bear for his wife at iconic London department store, Selfridges, for Christmas of 1956. He named the bear after their nearest tube stop. Paddington Bear’s adventures have been translated into 40 languages with more than 35 million of the books sold.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZR7jOmg0Ro?rel=0]
Paddington Bear comes from Darkest Peru and is found at Paddington Station by the Brown family. He is wearing a duffle coat, a hat and a tag that requesting that someone look after the bear. And, the Brown family takes on the challenge of homing a little bear whose favourite food is marmalade. You can read more about Paddington Bear at his official website.
We have printed off the handy map and checklist available on the The Paddington Trail website and have begun our search. You know my kids – nothing like ticking off boxes on a checklist to engage their interest. My daughters favourite is Rainbow Bear located outside the Royal Opera House and designed by acclaimed former Royal Ballet ballerina and current judge on Strictly Come Dancing, Darcey Bussell.
The bears are supposed to be life-sized bears so don’t expect them to be large. (I was initially looking for large bears like you see in the Buddy Bears in Berlin). Here are some of the bears we have found in North London.
This bear is called Sticky Wicket and designed by cricketing legend, Sir Ian Botham. He is dressed in cricket gear ready for a game outside of Lord’s Cricket Ground in St. John’s Wood. Sticky Wicket is a cricketing term for when you get yourself into a spot of bother which is appropriate for Paddington’s adventures.
This bear is Primrose Paddington located on the top of Primrose Hill and designed by actress, Julie Walters, who plays the housekeeper/nanny for the Brown family in the movie. Paddington’s grass green jacket is covered in primroses in reference to its location on Primrose Hill. Interestingly, the location for the Brown family house has been relocated from near Paddington in the book to a house in Primrose Hill.
The Paddington Trail is split into 4 walks – one near his original neighbourhood around Paddington, one through central London’s tourist hotspots, one along the River Thames and the last through the Royal Parks. Organised in conjunction with Visit London, they really want to make sure you visit all the different parts of London (and use the public transportation liberally). As such, it’s not the easiest to get around with children and see all the different bears. The shortest of the trails is the one that is around Paddington station but even that is pretty long for small kids.
Moreover, the map isn’t that easy to use and doesn’t pinpoint where exactly the bear is. For example, Special Delivery Bear is located in the South Hall of Covent Garden. We found it after a 20 minute trek pushing through throngs of Christmas shoppers only after we asked one of the store owners. It was in front of Le Pain Quotidien and we had missed it the first time around. Here’s Special Delivery Bear designed by actor Ben Whishaw who is the voice of Paddington Bear in the movie.
The Paddington Bear Trail and the statues will be around until December 30 so plenty of time for you to catch one or two if you are in London for the holidays. The bears will be auctioned for charity at the end of December so catch them this month if you can. The bears are really sweet and add to London’s festive atmosphere this Christmas!