Families in Slaithwaite ensured that more than 400 windows in the village shone brightly over the weekend.  

The whole village was transformed into a huge alfresco art gallery with windows lit up by local people with illuminated pictures created especially for the Moonshine Festival of Light.

The Moonshine Festival was a creative response when Coronavirus pandemic lockdown stopped the biennial Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival, which has been happening for 30 years celebrating the local Moonraking legend with a lantern parade, stories and music. 

Local people rose to the challenge of creating a different kind of community celebration by making illuminated pictures inspired by the themes of past festivals and by online resources produced by festival artists Frances Noon and Rachel Ellis.

Hundreds of resource packs were distributed to residents with instructions to get cutting, constructing and colouring, from the safety of their own homes.

On each evening as it went dark, households switched their lights on to reveal their stunning creations.

Locals walking around the village enjoyed the delights of spotting a host of creatures including octopuses, dragons, birds, owls and lizards. There were monsters and aliens, rockets and rainforests, TV characters and circuses and mills, landscapes and woodlands. 

There were messages of hope and remembrance, fruit and vegetables, smugglers and booty and lots of traditional festival moons, stars and sparkle!  Many of the designs had a hidden gnome inside to add extra fun for eagle-eyed spotters!

A network of volunteer street ambassadors got neighbours involved and have spread the message far and wide. Former Moonrakers joined in from afar making their windows in Scotland, Canada, Japan, the New Forest, South Yorkshire, Manchester and nearby in Marsh, Wellhouse, Pole Moor, Linthwaite and even Marsden!

Although the festival has now finished, many locals have enjoyed their window pictures so much they don’t want to take them down!

Festival director Gill Bond said: “We’ve had phenomenal feedback about the Moonshine Festival of Light. So many people have voiced how the pictures have lifted them in the midst of this winter lockdown.

“The picture windows have brought us together in so many ways, making new contacts with neighbours, spending time to create a picture to share, walking around to search out illuminated gems in windows high and low.

“We’ve enjoyed sharing our creations on social media, which has extended the reach of what we’ve been doing far beyond what we’d ever imagined.

“The Moonshine Project has well and truly  continued to profile Slaithwaite as the special, creative and unique community it is. So here’s to 2023. We shall be starting to devise and dream up the next celebration with events on the wa.y”

The festival would like to thank Arts Council England, Kirklees Council and the Judith and Neil Charlesworth fund from One Community and to local people and businesses who made donations to the Lunar Levy.

Thanks to The Little Bridge Wine Bar, McNair, Monsoon Tandoori, Spinning Mill House Bed and Breakfast, Destination Indian Restaurant and Bar, The Hardware Co and Ruddi’s Retreat Slaithwaite who made contributions towards events.

Thanks too to all of the volunteers who have given their time, energy and creativity to make this so special.