It’s back after six years away and this Saturday’s (Feb 18) Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival is sure to be one to remember.

The excitement will build up to the procession with some incredible entertainment lined up and all the village’s businesses open to get people in the festival spirit.

More than 200 lanterns have been made for the spectacular early evening parade and will include giant raindrops, magnificent water creatures, giant cups of tea and a sprinkling of stunning moons and stars. 

These will form a beautifully illuminated procession around the village accompanied by lively bands and some fabulous surprises along the route. 

There will be street entertainment, delicious food and drink, live music and a large-scale re-enactment of the legend of the Moonrakers, a light-hearted tale of quick-witted smugglers fooling the soldiers, the moon and the canal.


Assemble from 5.30pm on Carr Lane in the centre of Slaithwaite for street entertainment before the Moonraking legend re-enactment at 6.30pm.

The Moonraking lantern procession will set off from Carr Lane around 6.50pm and the route, which includes hills, winds around Crimble Corner, uphill on Crimble Bank, along Royd Street, down Bankgate, around Howgate Road, across the bridge, along the canal and back along Carr Lane. There will be a rolling road closure to stop the traffic.

The event, which is free, will end with a closing ceremony where the moon is raised back into the sky and then it’s off to the after parties.

Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival images by: CHRIS CHINNOCK

The 37-year-old Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival, now a registered charity, is back for the first time since 2017 thanks to fundraising and crowdfunding by local people, support from local businesses and grants from Arts Council England, Kirklees Council and One Community which give grants to local community organisations.

Car parking in the village is very limited so people are urged to use public transport or park outside Slaithwaite and then walk in.

Festival organiser Gill Bond said: “Every lantern-making workshop has been full to capacity and the village has been buzzing all week. Local businesses have really got behind the festival with posters for after parties and events around the edges of the festival popping up all over the place. It looks like it will be a lively Saturday night in Slaithwaite.”


Here’s the full line-up of entertainment.

Raise The Moon Soundtrack. Featuring contributors Colne Valley Musica Strings, Banda Nua Samba, Colne Valley Boys’ Choir, Xylosound, Jess Baker and the Watershed Singers.  Mixed and mastered by Noah Burton of Under Wraps Music.

Fettle and Fable. A walkabout shadow theatre performance from The Usherette featuring mice, mischief and mayhem.

Flat Cap Brass Band. Energetic brass band from the heart of Yorkshire – Huddersfield – wearing their trademark flat caps.

The Peace Artistes. West Yorkshire street band with a passionate take on folk, jazz and world music.

Boom Bikes. The Astounding BoomBike Sound System takes entertainment to the audience up close and personal.

Banda Na Rua.  Samba that blends world music, funk, drum ‘n bass, accompanied by local percussionists from the music workshops.

Banda Na Rua led by Katie Mallard

Handmade Samba Band. Led by amazing percussionist Mitch Oldham, the Handmade Samba Band was founded in early 2009 to be the house band of the Hebden Bridge Handmade Parade.

Musica Band. Musica Colne Valley Intermediate and Senior Wind Bands have been working with renowned street band leader  Paedar Long. Young musicians will be playing their first ever carnival parade for the Moonraking grand finale.

Far Cry Acapella.  Acapella group singing harmony songs from different cultures and traditions in a mix of songs inspired by the moon and the festival theme of water. They’ll be singing on corners and under bridges around the procession route.

Switch on Drama Youth Theatre. Catch two different groups of local young people performing under the names Moonraking Mummersand The Duck Squadwith costumes created by members of the HabDab Club.

Niamh Stacey.  Poi spinner which involves spinning a weight around the body.

Lancaster University Light Spinners. Illuminated circus treats.

Trans-Mutation. Giant sea dragon and roving angler fish illuminated puppets.

Neptune. Illuminated puppet by Harriet Dyson

Giant Kraken lantern installation. Designed by Alan Scully from the charity Be More Outdoors, made by local school children and installed opposite the Shoulder of Mutton.

Floating Lanterns. Mermaid by Frances Noon lantern barge by The Watershed Holiday Club and the Moonraking vintage frog.

Fire Effects from Optimum Fireworks.

Window pictures. Houses and businesses along the procession route have made illuminated window pictures. They were made in workshops run by Globe Arts Studio and Slaithwaite Library.

Flat Cap Brass

After Parties

After the event there will be moonraking after parties throughout the village featuring even more entertainment. These include:

Family Friendly Engine House: Slaithwaite Fire Station from 8pm with extra performances from Peace Artistes and the moonlit harmonies of Far Cry Acapella. Free to attend with hot and cold drinks available.

Little Bridge Café and Wine Bar: Fishing 4 Compliments acoustic duo from 8pm. Upbeat and catchy folk/pop.

Northern Sole Café: Live music by the canal from teenage Colne Valley singer Mason Whittle in the garden from 4pm. Soul and funk on the PA after the parade.

Acorn & Pip café: Open 2pm until late with a pop up bar featuring Zapato beers and a late kitchen. Moonraker party with Motown, 60s pop, psychedelic, northern soul, rock n roll and funk until late.

Ruddi’s Café: Open 9am-10pm. Outside bar serving hot drinks with Moonraker Munchies special menu inside. 

Silent Woman pub: Karaoke from 4pm.

Shoulder of Mutton: Popular acoustic duo Spark from 9.30pm. Adults only.

Other businesses, including restaurants which you’d probably need to book, open in Slaithwaite include Wine, Rumpus Burger, Destination, The Little Bridge wine bar and restaurant, Annello Pizza, Monsoon, Paprika, Om is Where the Heart Is, Otso Clothing (selling Moonraking T-shirts), Curated by Anna (coffee), Vanilla Bean, The Commercial pub, Hideaway Craft House, Ashby’s Deli Café, The Cookhouse Café, Culture Co Coffee, The Handmade Bakery and Hadfields Slaithwaite.

Takeaway food will be available from Yaadgar Asian, Marhaba, New Slawit Spice, Da Vinci’s Pizza, Chop Sticks Chinese, Ashby’s Chicken Shack, Slawit Chippy and Hill Top Fisheries.

  • Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.