National Festival of Making

Blackburn has more makers than almost any other place in the country - so we thought it was about time people knew about it
Type: Placemaking & Events
Date: 2017 - present

Set in the manufacturing heartland of the UK in Blackburn, Lancashire, The National Festival of Making is an exemplar placemaking event. Born out of the project ‘Blackburn Is Open’, who’s aim was to showcase Blackburn as the powerhouse of British manufacturing, The National Festival of Making explores and celebrates the present day diversity, range, scale and skills of UK-based making and creating.

The National Festival of Making takes over the streets of Blackburn every summer with music, markets, street food, art, performances, tours, talks, and most importantly, an eclectic mix of making experinces for everyone. Manufacturers large and small collaborate with national and international artists interlacing often traditional techniques with challenging, contemporary ideas. The event attracts makers and manufacturers from across the country and overseas who come to showcase their craft.

In Blackburn, almost 20% of the population still works in making, production and manufacturing, which is twice the national average. This event is about shining a spotlight on the rich history of making in the North West of England and inspiring and exciting future generations of makers and creators.

Starting in 2017, The National Festival of Making has drawn people from all parts of the UK to Blackburn. In 2018, the economic impact as a result of the festival came to a total of £985, 538. The social impact has also been strong – surveys conducted over the festival days found that 50% of vistors were from outside of Blackburn, and that 95% of people would return to the area – a sign of turning tides for this a town getting back on its feet.

In November 2022, the festival was granted National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status by Arts Council England, an incredible achievement for everyone involved in the project. You can read more about this here.