Things to do in Blackburn and Burnley

Alex Zawadzki

The unlikely homes to regular, nationally recognised events, Blackburn and Burnley’s arts and cultural programming is a huge draw for visitors. The National Festival of Making, British Textile Biennial, Blackburn Open Walls and Burnley Canal Festival all attract visitors from outside of the region to the area. Timing a visit with one of these events would make for a fantastic trip however these events have helped solidify a place for new creative ventures with 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  – the adidas Mill Hill, Sett End and the Kreft all have monikers linked to the town.

Blackburn, the wealthy kingpin of the cotton industry, has retained much of its architectural prowess with its stout and powerful buildings. Its Grade II status, 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 its 220 chimney stacks remain.

Its little sister Burnley, however, has retained a little more of its industrial heritage. With 12 factory chimney stacks still standing and its canal banks dotted with characterful buildings, its rolling hills are the epitome of mill town landscapes. The two towns sit ten miles apart, and were primarily connected by the Leeds to Liverpool Canal. Today they offer a lovely twin destination nestled within the beauty of the Pennine hills. Only a short drive from either town centre is required before you find yourself climbing a green valley or walking the canal towpaths.

The Pennine area was deeply rooted in folklore, and tales of witchcraft. The stories are fascinating whether you are interested from a historical perspective or out of a more occult curiosity! You can engage in these stories through dedicated tours or self-guided walks around Pendle Hill.

With a number of skilled South Asian workforces migrating to the area, bringing textiles and weaving knowledge to the factories in the 1960s and 70s, the two towns have been influenced by the cultures of these countries. It’s easy to include great Indian food, fabric shopping or a visit to a shisha bar on your trip; and the town museum in Blackburn has curated rooms with South Asian collections to visit.

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Blackburn Open Walls
Activity Until 31 December 2021, FREE

Blackburn Open Walls

Over 3 years, forgotten walls of Blackburn were brought to life with the creation of a vibrant outdoor gallery, by international, national and local artists, who together over 2 weeks, created a collection of large scale murals and art walk trails for the residents and visitors of Blackburn to enjoy.

Pendle Witch Experience Tours
Activity Until 31 December 2021, from £18

Pendle Hill Witch Experience Tours

Group tours of Lancashire in the area surrounding Pendle Hill. Through visiting the countryside and villages of Pendle, visitors learn all about the dark deeds and wicked plots surrounding the Pendle Witches in the 1600s.

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