Hidden gem heritage sites and museums sit alongside cutting edge modern leisure and shopping centres in Blackburn. Home to one of the UK's oldest football clubs, attractions in Blackburn include the Waves Water Fun Centre with water rides, a lagoon pool and a wave machine, and the Blackburn Ice Arena with an indoor ice rink and diner. The Blackburn Bowlplex offers a chance for some friendly competition, and The Hub at Riverside includes a chlorine-free swimming pool, a nursery, a stylish hair salon for men and women and a designated children's salon complete with games consoles and DVD players. Right in the heart of Blackburn sits The Mall shopping centre with hug top fashion clothing stores including Primark, H&M and Next.
From the Townsmoor Retail Park and the central Mall Blackburn with top high street names to Blackburn Market offering the chance to buy gifts, speciality items and local produce - retail outlets in the town are varied and numerous. The Peel Leisure and Retail Park includes a wide selection of shops and restaurant as well as a cinema, but if you're looking for a quieter way to spend your day you can enjoy the Witton Country Park which is Blackburn's largest park and includes nature trails, a mountain bike track, a six-mile circular walk as part of the 32-mile Witton Weavers Way and a visitor's centre housing a wide variety of mammals.
Elevated to cathedral status as recently as 1926, Blackburn Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral and one of the town centre's most striking landmarks. The parish church dates from 1826 with the additional lantern tower added in the 1950s. Download your own short guide on the Cathedral's website or book a group tour. A cafe and gift shop are both on-site.
Constructed in the early 1900s, Blackburn's classic Grade II Listed King Georges Hall is one of Lancashire's top entertainment venues, home to mammoth Soul Nights akin to the great Wigan Casino Nights. The Hall retains extensive original features and alongside great music nights offers a packed programme of comedy nights, music hall and pop concerts. A choice of flexible conference and events spaces are also available holding up to 2300 in The Hall. Blakey's Cafe bar is in-house and weddings are warmly welcomed.
A treasured Grade Listed Arts & Crafts building first opened in 1874 as a Free Library and museum, Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery is famous for its world class collection of Japanese woodcut prints and you'll discover a fantastic selection of watercolours and fine art here - much of it bequeathed by local notables such as Robert Hart who left a considerable coin, manuscript and book collection to the museum.
Many of the outstanding constantly changing exhibitions have a particular Blackburn focus, drawing on the town's many historical themes including as both a musical and cotton textiles centre. Specialist archives include the Kathleen Ferrier archive left to the museum by her sister Winifred. Ferrier, who was born just outside Blackburn, was an international operatic star by the mid-20th century.
The Lancaster pottery collection held by the museum is decorated by the famous illustrator Walter Crane and working models of spinning and weaving machinery inherited from the Lewis Textiles Museum are also on display. The social history gallery within the museum is a particular highlight, drawing on the museum's extensive local history archive.
A fair few hidden art gems are here at the Blackburn Museum & Gallery, which is particularly good on classic Victorian painting featuring the most popular Victorian artists of their day including Thomas Sidney Cooper and his famous cow paintings. The popular work by Frederic Leighton - 'Cherries' is here and the museum boasts eight works by JMW Turner! A real highlight is the permanent gallery on Indian and Pakistani culture.