By Leah Conway –
The Moonshine Festival will illuminate the streets of Slaithwaite this week on the evenings (6 pm – 9 pm) of 24 to 27 February.
Among many other annual traditions and events, the Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival and procession had to be cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this didn’t stop them from thinking of new, safe ways to brighten up the village this February.
Instead of the usual Moonraking Festival, they organised ‘The Moonshine Festival of illuminated window art’. The illuminated window art created a safe way for the Slaithwaite villagers to spread creativity and joy to each other.
“Co-operative creative enterprise”
Festival Director Gill Bond reflected, “In 2021, the COVID lockdown meant we had to reach people to participate in a different way … and the role of Street Ambassador was born. It was a way for us to communicate, inspire and supply materials directly on the doorstep to enable residents to make their picture. Something to shine out from their window in a joyful co-operative creative enterprise.”
“Connects, celebrates and includes…”
The idea was a great success and led to a vast display of illuminated artwork. The artwork spread across 400 windows throughout Slaithwaite.
Following the success, the Moonshine 2022 campaign has grown even more with a fantastic community response. Now, their Moonshine Street Ambassador scheme has an ambassador on every one of Slaithwaite’s 61 streets.
Gill said, “The Ambassador ‘model’ has been a wonder as it provides us with a link to people in a very domestic way. Local people inspiring and supporting each other in this great creative endeavour. It’s something that we will build into our Slaithwaite Moonraking lantern events in the future.”
“Moonraking is about the community creating their own artwork in the form of a lantern and the bringing together of all those in a procession that makes a wonderful collaborative piece of public art. Moonshine keeps this principle at its core with multiples of individual illuminated pictures creating a wonderful extended street art exhibition.”
“This creativity is powerful in how it connects, celebrates and includes… this is our normal in Slaithwaite- it brings people together, starts dialogues, fosters relationships and makes us feel GOOD!”
Among the street ambassadors is Alison Eastwood, the street ambassador for Springfield Crescent. Alison said, “The Covid pandemic was an isolating and lonely time and I struggled to find opportunities to join in with. Becoming a Moonshine Street Ambassador gave me the opportunity to meet lots of new people, including neighbours I’d never met or spoken to before. It’s wonderful to be part of this vibrant creative community.”
This year shops, businesses, local schools and community groups continue to get involved. This includes the churches, the cricket club and the women’s institute.
Getting involved with other people in the community is greatly encouraged; villagers have been encouraged to make extra window pictures for elders on their street who would like to take part to make it inclusive and enjoyable for all in the village.
Emma o’ Connor, Slaithwaite’s Post Office Subpostmistress, said, “Moonshine helps residents and businesses know more about each other. It makes us feel safer and included – everyone knows what’s happening even if they don’t take part. Moonshine really is universal and an all-inclusive activity.”
If you’re taking part in this year’s Moonshine, the theme is Water and the organisers have asked people to hide a ginger cat in their pictures, in memory of Tinker the famous Slaithwaite stray cat who would often be found hanging out by Lock 21 on the canal.
From 24 to 27 February, once the sun has set, musicians and performers will appear around the village. There will also be costumed characters with collection buckets for Moonraking 2023 and the evenings will reveal what the villagers have created as the artwork is illuminated throughout Slaithwaite.
Check out the Slaithwaite Moonraking festival KLTV filmed back in 2015!