Magical Augmented Reality Creatures come to high streets across the Borough


This October, families in Shirley, Chelmsley Wood, Knowle and Balsall Common will be able to track down 10 Mexican folk-art inspired ‘Alebrije’ in augmented reality thanks to Solihull Council, supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

In a first of its kind, Solihull Council has teamed up with High Street Safari to run a free augmented reality trail for families in Shirley, Chelmsley Wood, Knowle and Balsall Common.  

The trail is completely contactless thanks to its cutting edge QR code, web-based platform, and anyone with a smartphone can take part. The use of augmented reality means that players can not only discover the characters in participating businesses’ windows and local parks, but they actually get to see them burst into life right in front of their eyes.

The idea behind the event is to encourage families to discover their local high streets and their independent businesses, whilst having fun around October half term. The trail is a story-driven experience that players can complete in any order and, while being engaging, is designed to encourage people to get out, do some walking, and discover hidden parts of the Borough’s local parades.

The ‘Alebrije’ AR Trail is positioned around each local centre with ten magical creatures to find. Alebrije is a form of folk art that originated in Mexico where animals, both real and fantastical, are ornately decorated with colourful patterns and motifs. The ten creatures on the trail have been specially commissioned for the trail and five of them have been modelled in 3D for augmented reality. Once players open the AR, they can take selfies or even record movies with the creatures.  

Councillor Karen Grinsell, Deputy Leader of Solihull Council commented:

“We are encouraging families to go out and explore their local independent businesses through this new and exciting trail, supporting our high streets and keeping children entertained during the school holidays.  This is part of a programme of activities and events co-ordinated through the Council to support our towns and local centres and to give visitors more reasons to enjoy their local area.”

A spokesperson from Visit Knowle added:

“Visit Knowle is delighted to take part in this year’s Alebrije trail. The augmented reality adds extra fun for children taking part in this free trail. Keep your eyes peeled to spot the characters around the village.”

The trail takes about forty-five minutes to complete but can be completed in more than one visit. It’s completely free for families and groups to take part in and they win an e-book at the end that concludes the story.

The trail works by utilising contactless QR codes, without the need for families to download or sign up to anything. With safety in mind, it has been designed so that there is no need to go inside the venues, but some participating businesses are offering extra incentives to come in while you visit.

When families in each location scan each creature’s unique QR code they’ll learn more of the story and be able to open it in AR. Younger children especially will enjoy spotting the colourful creatures in store windows and older kids will be able to engage by reading the stories and taking selfies.

The trail runs from 11 October - 8 November 2021.

To find out more about the trail, visit


European Regional Development Fund

The project is receiving up to £192,000 funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of Welcome Back Fund.  The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit

About High Street Safari:

High Street Safari is a project being coordinated by Martin Blackwell, former CEO of Assoc. of Town & City Management (ATCM) and the Charity Retail Association. It was set up to create a unique high street family experience that aimed to raise significant sums for local good causes.

The trails work by utilising QR codes, without the need for players to download or sign up to anything. The trail consists of 10 vinyl window characters with QR codes that local businesses, as well as cultural and public venues, will host.

Families will be able to start the trail by scanning any of the characters. For families on the trail they will be able engage with the experience by scanning each character’s QR code and learning their names and stories and seeing them in AR. Younger children will delight in spotting the cute and colourful characters in window corners and older (and grown-up children) will engage by learning more about them.  Everyone will have fun taking silly selfies in augmented reality. They can do this in their own time and pace, if it takes a week it doesn’t matter.

After spotting all 10 creatures, families will be rewarded with a free, e-book that concludes the story.