Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
7:44 PM 20th February 2023

Villagers Enjoy A 'Kraken’ Time At Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival 2023

Photo: Chris Chinnock
Photo: Chris Chinnock
Thousands of villagers and visitors in the West Yorkshire Village of Slaithwaite lit up the winter’s night this Saturday 18th February 2023 with the return of Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival.

Carrying a glorious mixture of water themed lanterns, the lanterneers paraded their creations around the streets of Slaithwaite in a raucous 1-mile procession, accompanied by local musicians and street bands.

Photo: Chris Chinnock
Photo: Chris Chinnock
Before the procession a giant moon lantern was raked from the water in a tradition the village has celebrated since the festival started in 1985. The festival recalls a 19th century legend in which local smugglers claim to be raking the moon when caught by the local militia trying to rake barrels of rum from the the village’s canal.

Photo: Chris Chinnock
Photo: Chris Chinnock
{Gill Bond , Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival Organiser said:

"We did it! After a 6 year wait Moonraking is back! We had a sell-out week of lantern workshops, 242 lanterns got made with expert help from our artists and volunteers. On the night we've had high winds and traditional Pennine drizzle but people came out, undeterred, in their thousands . It was joyous to see everyone, so proud of their lanterns, just delighted to show off what they had created and support our wonderful community endeavour. All week the feeling in the village has been one of magic, wonder and togetherness. It's our lantern makers who really make the festival happen and they didn't let us down- jellyfish, turtles, seahorses, fish, ducks, teapots, watering cans, boats, birds and stars, just wonderful to see. Thank you Slaithwaite, thank you Moonrakers!"

The saying goes that 'It takes a village to raise a child', but it took 260 of the village’s children to create Release the Kraken, a giant sea creature lantern installed next to the Shoulder of Mutton pub in the village centre. The Kraken was the work of pupils from 4 local schools, staff at outdoor kids project Be More Outdoors and “other sundry people that were dragged in off the streets.” You can see it’s creator Alan Scully talking about the Kraken in Moonraking’s Facebook Live video .

Photo: Chris Chinnock
Photo: Chris Chinnock
And his thoughts are already turning to future Moonraking Festivals…

Alan said, “It’s very nice... and I look at it and lots of people seem to be enjoying it, which is the main thing. But I can’t help thinking ‘ What will I do next?’ (strokes beard!) “. We can’t wait to find out!

Among the other artists whose work dazzled villagers was Dave Young of Trans-Mutation. His Giant Sea Dragon enchanted the crowds with it’s brightly coloured eyes and impossibly long eyelashes, many children stopping to stroke its chin as it bobbed its head gently up and down.

You can see one young fan meeting the dragon on Instagram here

After a bagpipe accompanied fire finale, the crowds headed off to the many Moonraking After Parties hosted by local businesses in a special night to remember for the village of Slaithwaite. Organisers thoughts were already turning to fundraising and planning for Moonraking in 2025. Early donations very welcome!

Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival 2023 was made possible after a community wide crowdfunding and fundraising effort involving music concerts, a ceilidh, a village wide garage sale, a repair café, hundreds of small donations, a major grant from The Arts Council and donations from Kirklees Council’s Growing Great Places Fund, Yorkshire Water, Colne Valley Members Local Project Fund (Kirklees Council), Stylecraft Yarns, Northern Sole Café, The Handmade Bakery, Anello Pizza Restaurant, Re: hair and beauty, The Clay Mill, Zapato Brewery, Slaithwaite Foot Clinic, Yorkshire Educational Services (TARGET Competition), Ryder and Dutton estate agents , Huddersfield Repair Café and Slaithwaite Community Association. Local businesses Ruddi’s retreat and Om Is Where The Heart Is sold special Moonraker products which included a donation to Moonraking.