What’s On


  • ALL
  • Art In Manufacturing
  • Film & Digital
  • Food, Drink & Markets
  • Music & Performance
  • Workshops
  • Young Children & Family

Traditional Leatherwork Taster Sessions with Diamond AWL

Festival Hub / Sat and Sun, Sessions start on the hour. £

Led by our expert craftsman, these one-hour taster sessions see you trying your hand at traditional leatherworking techniques – crafting your very own handmade leather accessory.

Read more here

Supermarché – Pop-up Work:Shop

Festival Hub / Sat and Sun, Drop In. £

Use old industrial processes to make unique works of art with Supermarché - customise your own screenprint, throw a pot or create an image in lino – all in under 30 minutes!

Print for Love of Wood

Festival Hub / Sat and Sun, Drop In. £

Get inked up and ready to roll! Using our vintage and antique printing presses, participants will get will get hands-on teaching experience on how to ‘pull’ a print.

The Teenage Market supported by Blackburn BID

Town Hall Street / Sat and Sun 11am to 6pm

A real showcase of creative talent and budding entrepreneurs - pick up the wares of the newest emerging makers and drink in the vibrancy and diversity our young crafters bring to the table.


Saturday Only 12:15pm, 1:45pm, 4:30pm FREE

Lancashire’s industrial cotton heritage explained and explored through clog dancing! Mesmerizing sound design and intricate choreography come together in a captivating journey with a modern twist.


Town Hall Square / FREE

Get stuck in with interactive experiences exploring how Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths (STEAM) influence our world today. Enough to fill any budding engineer’s dreams!

The BBC at The Festival of Making

Cathedral Square / Sat & Sun / FREE

In support of The National Festival of Making, the BBC will host a special weekend of activities for food lovers and for children. Ticket ballot to 21st April only.

Read more here

Makers Market in association with Hopeful and Glorious

King George’s Hall, Concert Hall / Free Entry / Sat & Sun 11am to 6pm

With a line-up of irresistible handmade homewares, delicately crafted jewellery, contemporary furniture and one-off fashion items from British artisans, the maker’s market is a shopping heaven.

BIG Conference

Various venues / 27th April to 5th May / £

Festival Fringe Event. A Creative Lancashire series aimed at creative practitioners, makers & industry looking for an insight into the impact of innovation and creativity in business.

Read more here

Hands On Handmade

King George’s Hall, Concert Hall / Sat & Sun 11am–12.30pm & 2.30–5pm / FREE

Get hands-on with pieces from Karen Thompson, Simon Hasan and more - new additions to the Crafts Council's unique Handling Collection, a rich learning resource of over 700 crafted objects.

Emerging Talent Fashion Show

King George’s Hall, Windsor Suite / Saturday 6th May Only, 1pm / FREE

Glimpse the future as designers showcase their talent in a collection of conceptual fashion designs. Created by students studying the University of Arts London qualification at Blackburn College.

Paper Manipulation

King George’s Hall, Windsor Suite / Free / Sat and Sun, Drop In

Construct garments and accessories in our interactive workshop - from cardboard corsages to paper dresses. Come as a pair and use your friend as a live mannequin, but watch out for those pins!

Pop Up Factory

King George’s Hall, Windsor Suite / Free / Sat and Sun, Drop In

Put your ability with a sewing machine to the test in our simulated ‘Pop up Factory’ setting! The Alliance Project creates engaging ways to excite and inspire all ages of budding textile worker bees.

Sock it and See Sock Styling

King George’s Hall, Windsor Suite / Free / Sat and Sun, Drop In

The right pair of socks improves any outfit and this interactive workshop gives you the chance to make the ultimate pair. Join UCLan's Fashion and Styling staff and embrace the latest accessories.

Kantha Stitch Embroidery

King George’s Hall, Windsor Suite / Free / Sat and Sun, Drop In

Learn about the ancient South Asian embroidery technique of ‘Kantha’ and pick up your own sewing needle to try a technique used to craft shawls, shirts, sarees, pillows and more.

‘Get Crafty’ Art and Craft Sessions

Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery /
Sat and Sun / Drop In,11am–5pm

Craft sessions aimed at 2 to 12 year olds. Enjoy the museum setting for 20 minute activities and take home whatever you make. Sessions are unsupervised. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Family Museum: Sharing Stories

Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery / Sat 6 May 1-3pm / FREE

Behind the scenes at the museum! Bring along your special photos and keepsakes for professional curators to examine and evaluate and explore the secrets of museum collection and display processes.

Three Bears Yarn Dyeing Workshop

Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery / Sat and Sun, Drop In / FREE

Get winding, measuring and dyeing with true yarn luminaries. Immerse yourself in the heritage of yarn, make use of their extensive book of yarn recipes or go of piste and create your own.

Fabrications Workshop

Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery

Join in with our fun & dynamic family-friendly thread workshop. Inspired by artist Debbie Smyth's forthcoming residency, contribute to a theadiffiti fabrication and take home your own thready creation

Musical Instrument Making Demonstration

Museum Street / Sat and Sun / Demonstration

Musical instrument maker Lawrence Leith will be demonstrating the artisanal processes he uses to construct harpsichords, xylophones, and even hurdy-gurdys!

Take Up Space

Museum Street / Exhibition and Forum / Sat and Sun

Students of Blackburn University College showcase Take up Space – a reimagination of abandoned locations in Blackburn as spaces people can thrive in. Join in their creative process!

East Street Gamelan by More Music

Museum Street / Sound Installation & Workshop / Sat & Sun 11am–5pm

Beer barrels, ironing boards and washing machines are reborn in the East Street Gamelan – a ten-foot-high drumming behemoth that you can (and should) come and get noisy with.

Pyramid Construction Workshop

Town Hall Square / Sat & Sun / FREE

To demonstrate the power of the triangle UCLan students will build and demolish a 12-foot pyramid several times throughout the day, with an opportunity for you to build your own tabletop replica.

Boom Bike Bourrée

Sunday Only

It'll be hard to miss the brass banded Boom Bike Bourrée who'll be touring a unique concoction of Medieval hip hop, beatboxing, accordion and trombone around the festival on their mobile sound system.

Building reaction timers

Town Hall Square / Sat & Sun / FREE

How fast are your reactions? In this hands-on workshop you'll use LEDs, resistors and wires to build a circuit to test your own reactions, your family and your friends. Open to all ages of scientist!

Rocket Cars

Town Hall Square / Sat & Sun / FREE

Build your own rocket car! Ingredients: paper, sticky tape, drinking straws, wheels and a mystery power source. Whose car will be victorious in the head-to-head race? Step up to the plate!

Make It Up

Town Hall Square / Sat & Sun 2.30pm & 4pm

Live street performances throughout the festival as school and community ensembles perform a musical composition created specially for the festival by More Music’s Matt Robinson.


Cathedral Square / Sat & Sun / FREE

Immersed in ever-changing patterns of light and sound, this gigantic semi-autonomous illuminated music making sculpture (phew!) invites the audience to come together in a shared moment of spontaneity.

This is Pewter

Blackburn Library / Sat 10am-1pm & 2pm-5pm / £

Combine fish bones & molten metal to cast a pendant or keyring in this three-hour Pewter Cuttlefish Casting Workshop. A perfect opportunity to try jewellery making & explore a different material.

Read more here

Pixel Perfect

The Making Rooms / Sat & Sun / FREE

Retro pixel art fun! Design your own necklaces, keyrings and posters from cool coloured blocks, get messy with simple crafts, dip into coding and electronics and even play a few retro video games.

Making a quilt with Jenni Smith and Community Clothing

Community Clothing Shop / Sat & Sun / FREE

Bring along a piece of your past and get sewn into history with the Community Quilt. Explore their exhibition of modern quilts and try your own hand - by no means a quilty pleasure.

The Town is the Menu

Northcote Cafe, Cathedral Quarter / Sat and Sun / £

We challenged masterchefs Nigel Howarth and Simon Preston to encapsulate Blackburn's flavour on a plate. Come and try their specially created recipes, cooked by Blackburn College's own budding chefs.

Routemaster Bus Bar Company

Cathedral Square and Town Hall Square / Sat & Sun / £

We welcome two bus bars from Shardlow Brewing Company to both Cathedral Quarter & Town Hall Square, giving you plenty of opportunity to sit back, quench your thirst & rest those weary festival legs!

Street Food Delights

Cathedral Square & Town Hall Square / Sat & Sun / £

Taste and enjoy the pick of the crop from our fleet of street food traders; with hand reared lamb dishes, sticky Asian braised beef cheeks, vegan churros, Polish kiebasa and hot puds to name a few!

Burning designs - inspired by Henry Holland

Sat & Sun / £

Join 'Ironic' - a group of students with learning disabilities - in their pop-up shop where audiences can buy or make a specially designed Henry Holland inspired festival t-shirt.

Make your own Pizza

The Bureau Centre for the Arts / Sat & Sun / £

Have a go at creating your own pizza at The Bureau! Get hands on with a selection of delicious toppings, slide your creation into the wood fired pizza oven and then dig into your handiwork!

Real to Reel

The Bureau / 5th May to 7th May / £

In association with the Crafts Council, Festival of Making has the North of England's premiere of Real to Reel - the UK’s first film festival devoted to craft, with 44 films over 3 nights.

Read more here

Blackburn Exposed

The Bureau Centre for the Arts / Sat & Sun / FREE

A veritable feast of film featuring premieres from Aaron Dunleavy and O productions, photography from Obscura Darkroom, expert-led workshops, open studios and, of course, pizza making

National Art & Design Saturday Club

Prism Gallery / Sat Only

Join us at the Prism Gallery for an exhibition (and sale) of work made by Blackburn College's Saturday Club members. Browse, shop and print your own own bag for life.

Folding table

Town Hall Square / Sat & Sun / FREE

Explore a hands-on artwork that guides you through the process of folding paper and see for yourself how easy it is to make paper fly!


Blackburn Library / Sat & Sun

Using the app ‘Colourground’, festival visitors are invited to help develop Blackburn's very own colour palette by capturing the unique colours made by the bookends lining Blackburn Library's shelves.

Interactive VR tour of Blackburn Cathedral

Blackburn Cathedral / Sat & Sun / FREE

Find ancient artefacts and discover the rich history of Blackburn cathedral in an immersive VR headset experience. Dive into the virtual world and see the cathedral in a totally different light.


Cathedral Square / Sat & Sun 11:15, 2:15 &4:30pm / FREE

Be part of the mayhem as our intrepid inventor risks nerve-wracking failure to bring you one perfect chain reaction. An internationally renowned blend of circus, invention and humour.

We Take Them and We Make Them

The Bureau / Sat & Sun / FREE

In collaboration with Aaron Dunleavy, Blackburn Youth Zone's budding filmmakers have delved into Mitchell and Kenyon's films and consulted local experts to create new 'local films for local people'

Global Sound Movement

The Making Rooms / Sat & Sun / FREE

Get hands-on with musical instruments from around the world! Digital instruments with intuitive physical devices mean no musical knowledge is necessary this truly creative and unique experience.

Making Noise - Craft, Read, Rhythm & Rhyme

Blackburn Library / Sat 12:30pm (1hr session) / FREE

Pre-schoolers are invited to come sing, dance, craft an animal mask and join in with an especially noisy 'who's that scratching at my door?'

Fashion Doll Dressing

King Georges Hall / Sat & Sun / FREE

Create your own fashion doll from an exciting mix of hairstyles, garments and accessories. Suitable for everyone, this creative workshop is a fun introduction to fashion illustration and collage.

MIG Welding Simulator

Town Hall Square / Sat & Sun / FREE

Alongside a live welding demonstration area, our virtual MIG welding simulator (!) allows you to try your hand at the latest Lincoln Electrics technology. A must for the lover of power-tools!

Introduction to Gaming Software

The Making Rooms / Sat & Sun / FREE

Want to be the next big thing in gaming? This workshop will give you a taste of the tools of the trade - demonstrating how to develop games using the professional software of the gaming industry.

Copper Craft Creation

Town Hall Square / Sat & Sun / £

A hands-on demonstration of copper working techniques - create roses, poppies and much more in this interactive workshop.

Making Elder Jewellery

Museum Street / Sat & Sun / FREE

Craft yourself a rustic elder bracelet whilst learning about all the stages of involved - making the cord, the beads, the natural dying process - even folk stories of the elder tree!

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Blackburn Library / Sat & Sun / Free

This exhibition showcases the latest in 3D printing. Discover how to design and build your own machines, what materials will be used in the future and take part in live demonstrations.

Make Stuff with MadLab at BYZ

Blackburn Youth Zone / Sat Only / Free

Blackburn Youth Zone & Madlab will be hosting a ‘Make Stuff' family open day - learn the basics of coding, explore exciting tech projects and take part in a wide range of fun activities.

Bella May Leonard & Silentnight / Human Hands Present

Blackburn Cathedral Crypt / Sat & Sun 9-4 / FREE

Silentnight's resident embroidery artist displays her playful walk-in installation in the Crypt - a dreamlike meditation on sleep and modern machinery's dependence on tender human hands.

Artist Workshop / New Ticks: tack and tuft your comfort layer

Blackburn Cathedral Crypt / Sat & Sun 9-4 / FREE

Learn to 'Tick' with Bella May Leonard - in this family-friendly workshop you’ll find yourself using threads, tufts & Silentnight's factory offcuts to collectively embroider a tick pattern.

Grennan & Sperandio and Panaz / The Social Fabric

1849 Private Dining Room, Fleming Square / Sat & Sun 11-5 / FREE

Our MOMA alumni have created bespoke fabric and wallpaper that captures the lives and loves of four Panaz employees. Coy carp and Whitesnake feature in an intimate exploration of work and home life.

Artist Workshop / Make Your Own Patterns!

Exchange Coffee / Sat & Sun 11-5 / FREE

Drop in to make and take home your own patterns, from simple arrangements to half drop repeats all you need is imagination! The (patterned) sky's the limit in Grennan & Sperandio's drop in workshop.

James Bloomfield and Darwen Terracotta / Of Heart and Hand

Cathedral Square & Temple Gallery / Sat & Sun 11-6 / FREE

Celebrating Darwen Terracotta's workforce, Bloomfield’s monumental installation and individual cast objects pay tribute to the role of the craftsman and form a true centrepiece of the festival.

Artist Workshop / Plaster Casting

Cathedral Square / Sat & Sun 11-5 / FREE

Experience Darwen Terracotta's famous processes - follow demonstrations from resident artist James Bloomfield and then mix plaster, master latex moulds and decorate your own piece to take home.

Lazerian and The Cardboard Box Company / Chromatogram

Cotton Exchange / Sat & Sun 11-6 / FREE

Using a stunning palette of colour from the archives of the Cardboard Box company, these walk-in cardboard 'pods’ occupy a vast heritage space - put on your hard hat for this intimate tour.

Artist Workshop / Chromatogram

Cotton Exchange / Sat & Sun 11-5 / FREE

Join artist and maker Liam Hopkins to create a range of products from a cardboard collection. using the manufacturer's own materials and stunning gradient of colour.

Jamie Holman and Roach Bridge Tissues – Blackburn to the Fore

Prism Gallery / Sat & Sun 11-6 / Free
Blackburn Cathedral / Sat & Sun 2pm / FREE

Holman resurrects a poem by William Billington in a trio of artworks: an ethereal lightbox installation, delicately printed tissue paper and a stirring choral performance of 'Blackburn to the Fore!'


Cathedral Cathedral / Sat & Sun 11-5 / FREE

Add yourself to the future memory of the town in Jamie Holman's workshop. Become part of a film thats asks future generations to “remember you” & take away a printed artwork by the artist.

Jeni McConnell and Cookson & Clegg / From Cordwainers & Curriers 

Festival Hub / Sat & Sun Walking Tour 11:30 & 3:30 / FREE (booking required)

Don your archive-inspired flying cap for a leftfield walking tour of Cookson & Clegg's industrial heritage. This step back in time is replete with contemporary twists and unique audio experiences.

Michelle Wren and Graham & Brown / Everyone Has a Roll

Blackburn Bus Station / Sat & Sun 11-6 / FREE

A behind-the-scenes view of the wallpaper factory celebrates Graham & Brown's talented personnel. Wren’s multimedia installation and manual is an evocative reflection on the customs of the workforce.

Artist Workshop / What’s Your Roll?

Blackburn Bus Station / Sat & Sun 11-5 / FREE

Your roll is empty until you fill it! Join Graham & Brown and artist Michelle Wren to decorate your own wallpaper roll, record your stories and help create the manual 'The Art of Doing Things Well'

Robyn Woolston and MGS Plastics / REVOLUTION (2017)

29 Northgate / Sat & Sun 11-6 / FREE

A vast, immersive floor installation explores our relationship to plastic, whilst a film documents human responses to the 1st and 4th industrial revolutions – don’t miss Woolston’s ambitious project.

Artist Workshop / Plastic Fantastic

29 Northgate / Sat & Sun 11-5 / FREE

Rediscover the disposable in Robyn Woolston's workshop. Using domestic plastic food packaging in new and ingenious ways you'll explore both form and function in this family-friendly making experience.

Ruth Jones and Cherrytree Bakery / Traysway

Cathedral Square / Sat & Sun 12:45 & 3pm / FREE

Traysway sees the factory-floor movements of ten Cherrytree bakery staff woven into a unique 15-minute choreography. This singular performance echoes the physicality of the factory, past and present.

Artist Workshop / Traysway Movement

Cathedral Square / Sat & Sun 1 & 3:15pm / FREE

Fresh from her residency at Cherrytree Bakery, choreographer Ruth Jones and her four professional dancers lead their 'Traysway' movement workshop - stretch, move, be creative and have fun!

Front Room Factories / O Production

The Bureau / Sat & Sun 1pm & 5pm / FREE

A celebration of people who make things at home - turning their front rooms, kitchen tables or garden sheds into a production line! This new film by O Production will be premiered at The Bureau.

Download our Festival Guide


Read more here

6th - 7th May 2017 | Blackburn, Lancashire

The National Festival of Making Delivery Team


The National Festival of Making is supported with funding from Arts Council England, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and Heritage Lottery Fund