By Andy Hirst

One of Huddersfield’s best-loved events is back after a six-year break.

Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival returns to the village on Saturday, February 18, which is sure to draw thousands of people into the village.

Work is well underway preparing for the week-long festival culminating in a huge parade through Slaithwaite on the big night.

The festival is expensive to stage and has only been made possible by crowdfunding and an Arts Council grant.

Businesses are urged to make the most of the event by making sure they’ll be able to cater for the huge number of visitors expected to flock in.

Festival director Gill Bond says many businesses may not have been around the last time moonraking happened and others may have forgotten what it’s like to have the village thronged with night-time visitors.

She said: “After the moonraking procession there will be thousands of people in Slaithwaite village centre and many of them will be up for an after party, me included. It’s been a tough few years for many businesses so we’d love it if our local bars, cafes and restaurants get a nice boost to their trade from the moonraking crowds.

“We’ll be profiling the after parties on our website and social media so get in touch and tell us if you’re planning on being open and ready to welcome some moonrakers. The procession is expected to end around 8pm so that’s the time to get the after parties started.”

Images from the 2017 Moonraking parade above and top by: CHRIS CHINNOCK

All the after parade events need to be confirmed by Friday, February 10. Email with details of your plans.

Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival is a week-long celebration of creativity and community when people from Slaithwaite and the neighbouring towns, villages and countryside create hundreds of beautiful lanterns from willow withies and tissue paper lit by candles and suspended by bamboo poles at a series of workshops in the village. The theme for the lanterns this year is water.

The festival culminates in a wacky lantern parade with brass, carnival, samba and sassy street bands accompanying the thousands who come along to carry the lanterns in all weathers.

This year’s parade will be on Saturday, February 18, with lantern workshops running in the preceding half-term week February 11-17. Workshops can be booked through moonraking’s special get creative website

Moonraking celebrates a local legend in which a band of smugglers hid their illegal bounty under a canal bridge in the village. On the night of a full moon reflecting on the water they took their rakes and went to fish out one of the barrels of rum but were caught in the act by the local militia.

The smugglers avoided arrest by claiming to be trying to rake the moon out of the canal after it had fallen in. Before the procession begins the modern-day moonrakers re-enact the legend, raking a beautiful moon lantern from the canal.

To find out more about the festival and all the events leading up to it go to

  • Andy Hirst runs his own freelance journalism, website content and blogging agency AH! PR and can be contacted on