Blackburn Open Walls
Blackburn Open Walls.

Things to do in Blackburn

Alex Zawadzki

The town of Blackburn, along with its near neighbour Burnley, is home to regular, nationally recognised events, with cultural programming a huge draw for visitors. In addition to Blackburn Cathedral (with its glass cloister and impressive stock of modern art), the National Festival of Making, British Textile Biennial, and Blackburn Open Walls all attract audiences from outside of the region to the area. Timing a visit with one of these events makes for a fantastic trip, but these festivals have helped solidify a place for new creative ventures in Blackburn – and a year-round cultural offer for you to explore.

This may be in part due to the creative and entrepreneurial spirit that has long resided here. Blackburn has played a part in cultural shape-making, with its role in the illegal Acid House raves of the 1980s and the evolution of Football Casual style on the Blackburn Rovers football terraces. It informally marked its spot in the history archives in 2019 when the adidas Spezial range named a trainer after the town. Only die hard fans will know that several other shoes already paid tribute to the town and its inhabitants – including the adidas Mill Hill, Sett End and the Kreft.

Blackburn, the wealthy kingpin of the cotton industry, has retained much of its architectural prowess with its stout and powerful buildings. Its Grade II listed, 19th century buildings include the Cotton Exchange where the trading of textiles and money took place, the Old Bank Building which still houses Lloyds Bank today, and the exceptional red brick and yellow terracotta Victorian facade of the Art School. The mills that fuelled this industry once sat upon the hills that cascade into town, but sadly none of the 220 chimney stacks remain.

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