Wakefield to host two week Festival Of The Moon this summer - Everything you need to know

Museum of the Moon.
Museum of the Moon.

Wakefield is set to blast off into two weeks of moon-themed celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of NASA’s successful 1969 space mission.

The city’s first ever Festival Of The Moon takes over the former Market Hall during the summer holidays from Friday, August 23, until Sunday, September 8.

Helen Sharman.

Helen Sharman.

A giant, seven metre-wide, illuminated scale replica of the moon will land in the heart of the city, courtesy of acclaimed artist, Luke Jerram. In addition Britain’s first astronaut, indie rock royalty and children’s TV icons, The Clangers join the line-up of mostly free events and activities with many still to be announced.

Jerram’s stunning 1:500,000-scale sculpture, Museum of the Moon, promises to bring visitors face-to-face with the moon’s awesome beauty and forms the centrepiece of the festival’s exciting line-up.

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An ethereal soundtrack by Ivor Novello-winning composer, Dan Jones will accompany the dramatically-lit, inflatable moon as it floats in the specially repurposed former Market Hall on Union Street.

The festival atmosphere ignites with an unmissable launch party from 5pm (Museum of the Moon open at 6.30pm) on Friday, August 23, with the market plaza directly in front of the building filled with food, drink and outdoor performances.

On opening night and throughout the festival period the wide walls of the former Market Hall will be used to project footage of historic space missions and other rocket-propelled films and programmes, not least footage of Neil Armstrong’s famous first steps.

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One of the few humans to have seen Earth from Space, Helen Sharman will speak about her own journey and how she came to be living and working on the Mir Space Station.

The Sheffield-born chemist, who blasted off in a Soviet Soyuz rocket in 1991, will land in Wakefield on Friday, August 30. (evening events for adults) and Saturday, August 31 (daytime event for children).

Following Sharman’s touch down in the city, Wakefield throws a Moon Dance on Saturday, August 31, with Leeds-based electro-funk three-piece Galexians playing live alongside fellow dance purveyors, Night Giants, while virtual reality, video games and beer pong keep the most curious of minds occupied.

Familiar to grandparents and children alike, BBC’s The Clangers originally hit Britain’s TV screens in 1969, returning to CBeebies after a four-decade gap in 2015. On Mon 26 August, Clangers’ Small and Tiny will be our special guests at Wakefield’s Moon Picnic, meeting fans of all ages at intervals

throughout the day, free-of-charge.

Picnic blankets will be supplied so that visitors can spread out to enjoy their own food and drink. Drop-in activities, including a Moon Rock Workshop, will keep everyone busy between sandwiches and slices of cake.

As iconic as any other space story, George Lucas’ legendary films, Star Wars becomes the theme for Star Wars Sunday on September, 1 with the first screening in a planned run of episodes of the intergalactic adventure beamed onto the big screen.

Dancing Stormtroopers and the chance to dress up as favourite characters like Darth Vader and Princess Leia are just two other features of any sci-fi fans dream day out. Other, packed full-day events include Science Day (Wednesday, August 28), including talks and screenings, and Game Republic (Sat 7 September), offering an entire day of gaming, not limited to contests and advice sessions for those wanting to break into the industry.

Free, drop-in wellbeing events, including Moonlit Yoga and Sound-Baths (a calming, immersive sound experience) take place on Tuesday, August 27, Tuesday, September 3 and Thuursday, September 5.

Coun Jacquie Speight, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sports at Wakefield Council, said: “Wakefield Council is proud to not only be welcoming leading names in science, music and art to celebrate one of mankind’s greatest achievements with us, but also to be marking that momentous event with creative talent from our own city.

"The Festival Of The Moon will be two-weeks of summertime fun and inspiration for residents and visitors of all ages, spanning theatre, storytelling and hands-on activities. The festival will also welcome families back into the former Market Hall building to inspire its future as a planned hub for culture and creativity in Wakefield.”

Contributing to many events as part of The Festival Of The Moon are artists, creatives, community groups and individuals who have successfully applied for funding as part of Wakefield Council’s Creative Challenge, announced in June. Those funding winners and the events they’re creating are soon to be announced alongside other, yet-to-be-revealed events at:

experiencewakefield.co.uk