What is Moonraking?

If you look it up on the web, you will probably find that it is defined as “engaging in foolish or unprofitable activity”…

Unprofitable perhaps, but we dispute "foolish"

The Slaithwaite version of Moonraking involves raking the Moon out of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal every odd year on the evening of the second Saturday of the Kirklees Schools' half term holiday.

Now what is foolish about that?

After raking it out, our Gnomes carry the moon round the village, leading a procession of up to 5000 people. There are 200 or so candle lit lanterns made from willow and tissue paper, three to five bands, Moon maidens, fire eaters, motorcycles and all sorts of people in fancy dress.

At the end of the procession, we put on an assortment of artistic works and finish the night with a fireworks display. We hold a bucket collection that usually raises between £400 and £800, which is where the word "unprofitable" comes true, as our costs run to the tens of thousands.

Local traders open their shops until late, and some have been known to make a fair bob or two on the night.

In the run up to the festival, we hire the local village hall and use it to train children aged from 4 to 104 how to make lanterns. Fifteen hundred or so individual training sessions take place during the week.

We also hold fringe events at our local Creative Arts Mill, The Watershed and other venues in the village. During the year, we hold various activities that train and educate people of all ages in all sorts of activities. In 2011 for example, we studied the world of Wool, and our theme "Wild about Wool" ends in February 2012, with exhibits at the Colne Valley and the Tolsen Museums.

So that is a little about "Moonraking" More information about the festival can be found on our archive web site, but there is a host of info on this web site, about the festival, its sponsors, its management team, and about the next festival which will be held in February 2013 in the half term holiday, dates for which are yet to be determined.

In 2008, BBC Television paid us a visit and produced a superb video for their Country file program. You can see it here.

Have fun, and explore the menus to find out about the festival.