THOUSANDS of people defied the near constant downpours to visit Blackburn for the opening day of the Festival of Making.

Organiser Wayne Hemingway told onlookers at a Q and A session that he expects the two-day event to attract around 40,000, a similar number to next year.

All centred around the them of making visitors to the town centre have been treated to arts and crafts, dance workshops, cooking classes, demonstrations, shows, presentations, music - all free - and there has also been a range of food and drinks from around the world.

Arguably the star attraction so far has been the Doctor Who: The Runaway VR experience in Cathedral Square.

The virtual reality experience takes participants into the Doctor’s TARDIS, voiced by current Doctor, Jody Whittaker.

Participants are sat down and have a control and Sonic screwdriver, which they use to fly the Tardis and interact with characters to stop the evil forces taking control.

Adam Heyhurst, BBC events editor, said: “This is the third year we’ve done something for the Festival of Making, and it’s our first VR event.

“VR is the future, and it really is just like being there – in the TARDIS.

“We’ve had people come out wide eyed talking about how good it was, which is helpful to the queue of people who know it’s worth the wait.

“One person said they always wanted to step into the TARDIS, and now they can.”

Another event which attracted the crowds was the Cardboard Cinema. Located in the crypt at Blackburn Cathedral, the cardboard cinema is entirely made of cardboard and gives children 30 minutes of a fun film experience about a girl’s magical adventure.

Artist Hannah Fox teamed up with the Cardboard Box Company for the showing, with viewers also gave out free popcorn.

She said: “Children and adults can come inside to watch a fairy tale about a girl going on a magical adventure to the North.

“It’s something special for Blackburn. I saw the list of companies doing things for the festival and wanted to get involved and collaborate with the cardboard idea.

“I did some research and found that Blackburn had 15 cinemas at one point. I thought to myself what you can do with cardboard and thought of a cardboard cinema.

“I expect with the 30 to 35 showings, I am expecting about 950 people over the weekend, and you can see families with children enjoying the experience, it’s quite different.”

Kim McConaghy, 44, from Darwen, arrived with her three children. Cameron, 13, Jake, seven, and Finlay, six.

She said: “We’ve had fun despite the downpour, there were more people here last year but that’s because of the rain today.

“We’ve had a nose around; the kids are enjoying it. There’s a good selection of things going on, especially things you don’t normally get to do.

“Cameron went into the Doctor Who VR experience, which he loved.”

Ilham Sarih, from Blackburn, came with her three children, Sophie, three, Summer, seven, and Ayman, three.

She said: “The kids have loved it. We spent half an hour at the noise making stall, and they watched the film at the cardboard cinema, and Sophie really loved that one.

“It’s good even though it’s raining, because you’re still doing stuff and my son never stays still so for him this was amazing.

“It’s really engaging for them, although, last year was better because the weather was nice.”

The event runs until 6pm today and starts again at 11am tomorrow.