When: 19th – 25th February 2017
Where: Slaithwaite, near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
£: Most events are free
What is it?
The Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival will take place from Sunday 19th to Saturday 25th February, with the theme of Moon-mentum.
But what is the Moonraking Festival? Every odd year, Slaithwaite celebrate their smuggling history by hosting a creative community festival.
The story goes that in the 19th Century there was a profitable smuggling trade, using the canal running through Slaithwaite. At the risk of getting caught, the smugglers dumped their barrels of booze in nearby reeds and waited for nightfall to retrieve their booty.
One day, whilst raking the barrels out of the reeds, the men were approached by two excise officers and had to quickly make their excuses. Seeing the reflection of the moon in the canal the smugglers claimed to be trying to rescue the moon from the canal with their rakes. The officers took them for fools and left them to their smuggling.
This quirky history is celebrated in Slaithwaite with a series of events, including workshops, music and storytelling. The highlight of the festival though, is the Moonraking Procession and Finale. This year the finale will take place on Saturday 25th February. As this year’s theme is Moon-mentum, the lanterns will created with wheels and moving parts.
For the finale, the people of Slaithwaite gather in the early evening to float a giant moon, in a boat, down the canal. With the accompaniment of performances and fireworks, the moon is raked out by ‘Moon Maidens’. Along with children and adults carrying lanterns, the moon is then paraded around the village. Musicians and locals in fancy dress join in with the parade.
The finale day will begin at 12pm with the Handmade Fringe. There will be local arts and crafts, as well as a food market. Other events during the day will include a family film screening and a family ceilidh.