One of Kirklees’ most enchanting festivals will return for its 30th year this month.

The popular Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival is making a comeback and promises to be the most spectacular yet.

Taking place from February 15 to 21, it will transform the unassuming wintry village into a bustling and glowing lantern filled hub.

Crowds gather on Carr Lane to honour an old legend, which focuses on how a band of smugglers would avoid arrest for fishing for barrels of rum hidden in the water at full moon, by claiming they were raking out the reflection of the moon when challenged by authorities.

And this year the event will celebrate the big occasion with specially commissioned works by renowned lantern makers, whose offerings will mingle with the dozens of those made by local people and visitors.

The festival’s musical side will kick off with Landmark Enoch’s Hammer Folk Night on February 13 at the Watershed on Bridge Street, before daily lantern making workshops will begin at Slaithwaite Community Centre on Bankgate from February 15.

Children’s theatre will get everyone in the mood for the big event on February 18 at The Watershed, where O’ Hooley and Tiddow will play the night after.

And during the week a special 30th anniversary Exhibition, celebrating the arts of the lantern, will be open at The Emporium on Britannia Road and will feature the work of the five Landmark Show-piece lantern makers.

This includes Karima Ellis, who came with her family to make lanterns at the festival in 1987 and is now one of the foremost lantern makers in the country.

The festival will culminate in the theatrical raking of the moon from the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and a lantern parade on February 21, which feature new additions such as a light house and model of Stone Henge, will be followed by a family ceilidh and live music at several pubs and bars.

The creative talent of the town will also be honoured with a handmade trail that leads visitors around local businesses and pop up craft markets.

The festival was the brainwave of Gill Bond and Andy Burton from performance arts group Satellite Arts, whose space is in the Watershed.

Talking about the event 30 years on, Gill said: “It is testament to the local people who have helped organise and run the event over those years. “Slaithwaite Moonraking is a unique outpouring of creative activity, giving the community an opportunity to celebrate their village and feel proud of it.

“It happens at a dead time of year when we’re plodding through winter, on a comedown from Christmas.

“People like to have the festival to look forward too and get involved in - it lifts their spirits.”

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