THE final preparations are underway before history is made and one of East Lancashire most historic buildings hosts its first live music festival.

Confessional will take over Blackburn’s former Cotton Exchange on Saturday bringing some of the best up-and-coming bands to a new audience.

Headlining the one-day music and arts festival will be The Orielles and the line-up also includes The Lounge Society, Peaness, Avalanche Party, Carpark, the Pagans SOH and Blanketman.

The honour of kickstarting the festival around 2pm - and in so doing becoming the first rock band ever to play in a venue which has previously hosted the likes of Charles Dickens and Houdini - will be Blackburn band Free From the Wilde, all students from McNally Music Tuition.

Festival organiser Pete Eastwood and his team have spent the past few weeks transforming the former Apollo Cinema building. This will be the sixth Confessional festival but the first in the town centre venue.

Every year has a theme and for 2021 this will be Alice in Wonderland with artwork, 3D models and even surprise live performers adding to the atmosphere although the final effect will not be seen until the doors to the Exchange open on Saturday.

The Grade II listed building first opened in April 1865. It hosted a number of concerts and lectures including Dickens who read excerpts from A Christmas Carol there in 1869. More recently it hosted an adidas trainer exhibition which brought thousands of enthusiast to Blackburn as part of the National Festival of Making, but Confessional will be the first live music festival to be held there in its 150 year history.

There will also be DJ sets, spoken word artists creative stalls and a bar and food available on the premises.

After Confessional had to be postponed last year due to the pandemic, Arts Council England stepped in with a grant to allow this year’s event to go ahead.

Organiser Peter Eastwood said: “We haven’t had nearly as much time as we normally would to prepare but it is a fantastic opportunity to bring some of the best young bands to Blackburn in a unique setting.

“We are only a small team but we are passionate about making Confessional as good as it can be and a memorable experience for everyone who comes along. We can’t wait to welcome everyone along and see their reactions when they walk into the Exchange.

“This is really going to be something special and we can’t wait to see you there.”

Along with many venues, Confessional will be operating a policy to protect festivalgoers which requires those attending to either show proof of having had both Covid vaccinations at least 14 days before the event or negative NHS lateral flow test taken within 48 hours of the festival.

For full details about the festival and for tickets visit