Get ready for blast off – our guide to family fun at the National Festival of Making!

Published 25th Jun 2024

Looking for fun for all the family? Look no further than the National Festival of Making!

The 2024 programme has been officially revealed and it’s packed full of things to see and do with a promise of something for everyone.

Taking place over the weekend of July 6th and July 7th, the festival is the borough’s biggest event of the year drawing in tens of thousands of visitors to Blackburn town centre.

And there’s more than 50 things listed to enjoy over the two days across 25 different venues – everywhere from Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery to The Making Rooms, The Exchange, Tony’s Ballroom, The Mall, Blackburn Cathedral, Cathedral Square and more.

With so much to work through in the programme, we’ve had a look at our top picks for families, with everything from the chance to design your own rocket, build a den, flag making and so much more!

For the little ones, The Bureau’s Shared Sounds is back with new activities – a fun mix of music, art and creative play to spark imaginations, plus the chance to make music with recycled instruments with Gamelan in the Cathedral Gardens, and Elmer storytelling and crafts at Blackburn Library.

Over at The Making Rooms, the Fab Lab will be open right throughout the weekend and it’s perfect for the over sevens. There, you can see a new ceramics 3D printer in action, create a keyring from recycled plastics, seed bombs from shredded cardboard and contribute to a giant rug mural with the tufting gun.

There’s also the STEAM Zone with Blackburn College – a chance to find out more about Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths – with Blackburn Youth Zone open too with more STEAM activities to enjoy. And, sticking with the Science theme, you can also find out all about ‘pipes and poo’ with One Tenth Human – exploring what really happens when you flush a toilet.

Blackburn Museum – which is proudly celebrating its 150th birthday – will also be open both days with a host of activities to keep the whole family busy and, of course, you can enjoy their popular collections – including a visit to the Hart Gallery which has just re-opened and see the ever-popular Egyptian Mummy.

Elena Jackson, Co-Director of the National Festival of Making, said: “We pack our programme full of things to suit the whole family – from the little kids to the big kids.

“The best bit is that almost everything is free too!

“We want people to come and enjoy the whole festival weekend and so, on top of the many things that there are to get involved with, we also have live music, performances, food, makers markets and more – literally something for everyone.”

She added: “Every year, tens of thousands of people turnout for the festival – Blackburn with Darwen’s biggest event of the year.

“The Festival of Making is a fun celebration of all things ‘making’ – from the kitchen table to the factory floor, proudly showcasing the work of leading UK creative talents, alongside emerging and next generation artists.

“We want Blackburn to be seen far and wide as the natural home of making, both in the past – with the town’s rich links to the cotton industry – and looking to the future too, we have so much creative talent right here to celebrate.”

Head over to now and you’ll see a full rundown of what’s on with a full guide for families and early years.

There’s also rundowns for art-lovers, fashion fans and film fanatics as well as those who enjoy live music, performances, fabulous food and makers markets.

Start making your festival plans now! There’s a version of the full programme ready for you to download with useful maps.

You can also follow the festival on Facebook, Insta and X for daily updates.

Be sure to make a weekend of it too and explore all the town centre has to offer.

Blackburn BID will be sharing useful guides on what else there is to enjoy when you visit on its Facebook and Insta – give them a follow now.

The National Festival of Making is supported by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Arts Council England and the Brian Mercer Trust.

It also benefits from funding from the UK Government, including through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

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