For two days a year, The National Festival of Making fills the streets of Blackburn with the joyous activity of making, taking over 20 venues and outdoor spaces. It’s free to attend and a significant proportion of the programme is free to participate in. In recognition of the continuing place Blackburn has at the heart of making and manufacturing, the festival ‘celebrates making from the kitchen table to the factory floor’ through an ambitious programme of over 150 activities.
There really is something for everyone as you navigate the festival map (or the mile long yellow line marked on the street) and find activities that allow you to sit, watch, listen or participate and are aimed at different ages and abilities. Hands-on making workshops could see you make a bicycle bell, a Bauhaus costume, a leather purse or a screen-printed poster. Their music-making stage or themed street theatre can be enjoyed from a truck making homemade food.
This vibrant event is a happy occasion, with unexpected things to do. You might find yourself in a Virtual Reality experience, on a unique walking tour wearing a flying cap, in a cinema made from cardboard or in an intimate Northern Soul performance. There’s a real sense of the town coming alive over the weekend.
Shopping is an artisan dream with 60 stalls of handmade goods at the Makers Market, a dedicated Teenage Entrepreneur Market and a Food Producers Market with over 20 businesses who create produce across Lancashire.
The festival is complimented by an annual commissioning programme, Art in Manufacturing, which has placed more than 25 artists into residencies with manufacturers across Pennine Lancashire in 4 years. The results are collaborative artworks placed in locations inside and out around the festival, created using the materials, processes or products used in the factories to tell the stories of these incredible workforces. Artists including Martyn Ware, Liz Wilson, Liz West, Lazerian and Nicola Ellis have exhibited in fantastic spaces, with some opened up specially to the public for the festival weekend displaying in a truly exciting arts programme.