By Andy Hirst

The countdown to the return of Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival is well underway and workshops have been set up to help people make their own lanterns and even become part of the procession’s samba band for the night.

The festival culminates on Saturday, February 18, with a spectacular lantern parade featuring brass, carnival, samba and sassy street bands accompanying the thousands who come along to carry the lanterns in all weathers.

Workshops have been set up to help people make their lanterns. They are traditionally made from willow withies and tissue paper lit by candles and suspended by bamboo poles. The theme this year is water.

Several sessions will run during half-term week from Saturday, February 11 to Thursday, February 16 at The Watershed on Bridge Street in Slaithwaite.

They are at all times – morning, afternoon and evening – to make sure everyone who wants to make a lantern can do so. You’ll need two sessions for a basic lantern and four for a more complex one. Each session lasts two-and-a-half hours and costs £3 which includes the materials needed to make your lantern.

To see the full list and book a workshop go to moonraking’s special get creative website

Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival procession. Pic by: Chris Chinnock

Another major part of the festival is the samba band leading it and people can learn some Latin rhythms to become part of Banda Na Rua Samba Band in the procession.

These last just 90 minutes and are at Slaithwaite Community Centre. One is on Saturday, February 4 from 3pm to 4.30pm and the other is on Thursday, February 16, again from 3pm to 4.30pm.

Each sessions costs £3 per person. Book through

The festival is back after a six-year break due to the expense of staging it and the pandemic. It’s been made possible this year by crowdfunding and an Arts Council grant.

The parade will finish at around 8pm followed by after parties at businesses throughout Slaithwaite to keep the festival spirit going well into the night.

The trawling of the moon at Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival. Pic by: Chris Chinnock

Moonraking celebrates a local 19th century 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 quick-witted 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

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