Follow the trail! 25th June-5th September 2021

Download the free Octopus Ahoy! app and find our octopus sculptures – and win prizes for scanning each one, from cuddly octopus keyrings through to free afternoon teas, and much more! Enjoy 2021’s stay-cation summer of joy by seeking out amazing art by local artists whilst learning more about the local area – and unlocking lots of free rewards for just joining in the fun.

About UsGet in touch

Follow the Trail

For 10 weeks in this summer of 2021, the Octopus Ahoy! art sculptures form a public art trail across Harwich, Tendring and the wider Essex area to celebrate the Mayflower 400™️ project and 150 Years of Clacton.

The art trail, featuring 30 4ft-by-4ft octopus sculptures, can be followed on the Octopus Ahoy! app (free to download on iPhone and Android); every time you reach an octopus and GPS picks up your location (or you scan the QR code on the plinth of the sculpture), you earn a prize!

These large octopus sculptures will be auctioned towards the end of the project with all profits going to Essex-based charities.

The smaller 2ft-by-2ft octopus sculptures from the education programme will also be available to follow on the art trail app, and are hosted in internal locations throughout the summer – but no app prizes will be awarded for these. They will be returned to their schools/community groups at the end of the project.

Find out more about downloading the app and following the trail by clicking here.

Keep an eye out for our updates on social media – #octopusahoy – happy octopus hunting!

Octopus Cam


What is 'Octopus Ahoy!'?

Octopus Ahoy! is a FREE family-friendly public art trail for all to enjoy, celebrating the creativity of Essex. This summer, 30 stunning large octopus sculptures are taking pride of place in parks, on streets and in open spaces across Tendring and beyond. 61 smaller octopus sculptures are placed in internal locations.

The trail helps mark 400 years (in 2020) since the historical voyage of the Mayflower ship to America, ‘the new world’, with Harwich’s own Christopher Jones at the helm, and celebrates 150 Years of Clacton-on-Sea.

Read more here

Octopus Ahoy! is on for 2021! What are the new trail dates?

The project was originally planned for 2020 but understandably was postponed until 2021. Now it’s full speed ahead – the ideal fun, safe and family-friendly outdoor activity (and way to get your step count up) for the summer!

The Octopus Ahoy! trail (in association with Mayflower 400 and 150 Years of Clacton) officially launched on Friday 25th June and the vibrant octopus sculptures are now available to visit in locations across Tendring and wider Essex until Sunday 5th September.

After this point, the small octopuses will return to their schools to get settled back in and the large sculptures will be preparing for the charity auction on 23rd September. More details to follow…

The Octopus Ahoy! app is also available to download for free, for you to discover our sculpture locations, find out more about each octopus, unlock rewards, track your step count and more!

Keep an eye on the project’s progress on social media – follow the fun, there’s loads going on @octopusahoy #octopusahoy

Octopus Ahoy! was originally planned for 2020; why and how was the project postponed?

Following long consideration, it was with the support of stakeholders, suppliers and Tendring District Council that Octopus Ahoy! (originally due for launch on 4th July 2020) was postponed until the summer of 2021.

This decision was made in line with COVID-19 guidance, for the safety of the public and everyone involved with the launch and running of the project. It was felt that the Octopus Ahoy! would better serve its sponsors and the local community in a time when schools, sponsors and the public can take part fully and – most importantly – safely, in its best possible form.

Octopus Ahoy! 2021 is in association with Mayflower 400™ project and 150 Years of Clacton. We are excited to be delivering this fun, free activity for summer 2021 with all relevant safety and social distancing considerations.

Keep an eye on our website and social media channels for updates!

Where are the sculptures?

The sculptures are primarily located across Tendring; visit Clacton, Harwich, Jaywick, Frinton, Manningtree, Walton and Colchester – download the app or pick up a trail map for more details. There is even one octopus who has made it all the way to London! No need to find them in any particular order – join the fun when you’re ready!

How big are the octopus sculptures?

The main octopus sculptures are roughly 4ft by 4ft. The smaller octopus sculptures, for schools, measure roughly 2ft by 2ft.

Can I follow the trail by public transport?

Much of the trail can be navigated by foot but Tendring is linked with bus and trail networks:

The Clacton Breeze (open-top bus, Clacton Pier to Holland-on-Sea and back): www.hedingham.co.uk/clactonbreeze

Clacton Rocks (Harwich, Jaywick and beyond): www.hedingham.co.uk/clactonrocks

Greater Anglia (train routes include Clacton, Manningtree, Harwich, Colchester and London Liverpool Street): www.greateranglia.co.uk

What is the Octopus Ahoy! app?

Our free app is a treasure trove of information about the project and will be your best shipmate this summer, helping you to navigate the trail of octopus sculptures and gain rewards from sealife-themed charms to free afternoon teas. Use the treasure map to plan your route and keep an eye on the built-in step counter to track your activity as you discover each creative cephalopod.

Discover more about the fantastic professional artists who decorated our 4ft sculptures… read up about our Octopus Patrons that sponsored their favourite designs… and find out about the schools whose pupils that took part in our education programme, painting their own miniature sculpture to be put on display. Each and every vibrant sculpture design has a story behind it.

You do not need the app to participate in the trail; pick up a trail map from key locations or download it here – but you do need the app to unlock rewards.

What rewards can I unlock?

When you scan the QR code on the plaque of each large sculpture, using the app, you unlock a reward; this ranges from free sweets, photos printed of you and your favourite sculptures, afternoon teas, BOGOF on adventure golf – to prize draws to win shopping vouchers, an annual pass to Colchester Zoo, a chance to be a co-presenter on Actual Radio, a 2-night hotel stay and much more!

You can also unlock milestone rewards – collect 5/10/15/20/25/30 large sculptures for more prizes.

What do I do if the location of a sculpture is closed?

The small octopus sculptures are located in indoor locations across Tendring; the host locations have been asked to display the octopuses in prominent positions and windows, but we recommend that you check the host locations’ websites for details of opening times before making a special trip. The sculptures will be in place until 5th September, so there’s plenty of time to pop back another time!

What do I do if an octopus is damaged?

If you see that any of our sculptures are damaged, or there are any problems, please contact the KAT Marketing team on fixit@katmarketing.co.uk providing details of the sculpture, location and the problem itself.

What do I do if a sculpture’s QR code won’t scan?

App signal does vary depending on the location and with each device, which can occasionally impact the scanning of the QR codes. However, it is possible to unlock the sculptures without using the code. If you have your location on when using the app, once you’re standing next to the sculpture, find it in the trail list (it will be at the top when the list is sorted by distance) and you should be able to select “Find” in the top right of the view to collect it and unlock the reward. You will still need a fair signal for this to work.

How can I get involved?

There are so many ways to get involved! The team are always looking for more First Mate Crew members – volunteers are an important part of the event adding to the sense of fun, signposting visitors, sharing trail info, generating interest and excitement and much more. For more information check out our First Mate Crew page, or email us at octopus@katmarketing.co.uk

Can I create a sculpture?

In 2020, we invited local artists to get involved and submit their most creative and eye-catching designs to a unique art event to celebrate the Mayflower 400™️ in Harwich and to help raise money for Essex charities.

The project has launched and is in full swing for summer 2021, so we are not currently sourcing more design submissions, but do let us know if you are interested in being involved in future projects.

Read more here

Can I buy an octopus sculpture?

The large sculptures will be auctioned at Le Talbooth by Royal Auctioneers Reeman Dansie on 23rd September, with profits going to Tendring causes. They will be open to pre-bids online w/c 15th September. The small sculptures will be returning to their schools, and loving students, at the end of the trail and are not for sale.

What is an Octopus Patron?

An Octopus Patron is a sponsor of one or more large octopus sculptures – without whom, this project simply would not be possible. Thank you to all of our fabulous sponsors and supporters.

What other events are taking place in celebration of Mayflower 400™ and 150 Years of Clacton?

A variety of events planned for summer 2020 for Mayflower 400 have been rescheduled for dates throughout 2021, with all necessary considerations of safety and social distancing in place. Discover what’s happening, find what captures your interest and then get involved. Read more here.

July 2021 also marks 150 Years of Clacton – and there’s lots going on. Read more here and watch out for updates on social media.

CJ, the Octopus Ahoy! mascot will be out and about on lots of dates throughout the summer, at events, meeting the public, promoting the trail and handing out goodies – keep an eye out for him and don’t forget to say hello!