Travelling gnome prank

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"Roaming Gnome" redirects here. For the Travelocity mascot, see Where is my Gnome?.
One gnome with Big Ben in London

The travelling gnome prank is the practice of returning a garden gnome "to the wild". It involves stealing a gnome, taking it on a trip, and photographing it at famous landmarks, with the photos being returned to the owner.[1]

There are many clubs and organizations dedicated to the prank. The best-known of these is the Garden Gnome Liberation Front.


The earliest record is in Australia in 1986, when the following text appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 24 September: "An Eastern suburbs gnome-owner was distressed when she discovered her gnome had been stolen at the weekend. A note was found in its place: 'Dear mum, couldn't stand the solitude any longer. Gone off to see the world. Don't be worried, I'll be back soon. Love Bilbo xxx.'"[2] The tradition of travelling gnomes dates back earlier, with Henry Sunderland sending gnomes around Antarctica.[3]

"Gnome" Severson[edit]

Perhaps the most well-known instance of a travelling gnome prank happened in the spring of 2005[4] when a group of friends from Redmond, Washington,[5] took a gnome, "Gnome" Severson, on a trip to California.[6] During their time there, the gnome was photographed with Paris Hilton and a photo of the gnome was published in People Magazine.[7] The gnome was also photographed around Hollywood, San Francisco and Las Vegas.[8] Upon returning the gnome to its owner, the story turned into national news and an interview on Good Morning America. The owner of the gnome sold it for nearly $400 on eBay, but it was secretly purchased by the owner's friends, who continued to take the gnome around the world.[7]

References in popular culture[edit]

Churn Labs, a firm which makes software for mobile devices, created a game app named Gnonstop Gnomes for Android and iOS.[9] It lets users attach a virtual gnome to travel photographs and use GPS to share the gnome with friends as users travel.[10]

In the film Amélie, the title character wants to shake her father out of depression and reawaken his dream of traveling the world, so she steals his garden gnome and has a flight attendant friend take pictures of it with various international landmarks.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'Itchy feet' gnome returns home". BBC News. 12 August 2008. , from Gloucester, UK
  2. ^ Phil Tibble (24 September 1986). "Regular Shorts". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  3. ^ "A life-changing ice experience". 
  4. ^ "Garden Gnome Meets Paris Hilton". Fox News. 18 April 2005. 
  5. ^ "Gnome-Nappers Come Out Of Hiding". KOMO News. April 15, 2005. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  6. ^ "Gnome gone wild?". NBC News. 2005-04-14. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  7. ^ a b "Gnome Hits the Road ... Again". ABC News. 2006-02-14. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  8. ^ "Garden Gnome Goes Wild". KOMO News. April 12, 2005. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  9. ^ Gnonstop Gnomes[dead link]
  10. ^ Schonfeld, Erick (20 June 2011). "Gnonstop Gnomes Appear On iPhone And Android. Don't Try To Stop Them". TechCrunch. Retrieved 18 July 2013.