Final preparations are underway for this history-making festival which showcases some of the brightest new talent on the live music scene.

With just two days to go until Confessional 2023 starts, it will be held again in the historic Grade II-listed former Cotton Exchange in Blackburn, opposite the Town Hall.

Usually a single-day affair, the festival is expanding this year, stretching over two days in one of East Lancashire most historic buildings, The Exchange.

It will be held on Friday, September 8, and Saturday, September 9, and organisers say that it promises to be the best festival yet.

The renowned music festival will see Blackburn’s historic former cinema transformed into a Music and Arts Urban Junkyard Extravaganza!

Local promoter and music guru Pete Eastwood has been running Confessional since its inception.

Very much a labour of love, Pete’s passion comes across in every part of the festival, whose carefully-curated theme changes year on year.

This year’s theme will be Urban Junkyard, which, set against the majestic backdrop of the venue, is set to create a unique and memorable atmosphere for performers and punters alike.

Speaking ahead of this year’s festival, Pete said:

“As an avid music fan who is passionate about supporting grassroots artists, it is my pleasure to be back working on the seventh edition of the Confessional Festival.

“I am incredibly proud of the line-up, all of which are acts that I have seen in person before and can personally attest that they are all fantastic in their own right!

“Many of these artists cost £15 – £20 to see on their own when they do solo gigs in Manchester so to have the opportunity to put them all on the same bill, right here in Blackburn is something I am immensely proud about and thoroughly excited for”.


Recently, Pete and his team announced even cheaper day tickets.

Due to popular demand, and the current cost of living crisis, you can now scoop a Friday Ticket for £10 or a Saturday Ticket for £20 and if you want to go for the full weekend, the price is £25. There’s also a special group ticket offer, buy three tickets and get a fourth free.

Pete added:

“As we have seen many times before, the chances are that in 12 months, many of the bands and performers who play Blackburn’s Confessional will be playing some major venues around the country.”

“We were very conscious about the difficulties so many people are having due to rising prices,” said Pete. “The aim has always been to make Confessional affordable to music lovers and we have deliberately kept ticket prices as low as we can.

“Without the Council’s support we couldn’t make this happen. It’s a not-for-profit event that we put our heart and soul into, it really is of the highest standard in a magnificent building. You have to see it to believe it.”

This year is also the 50th anniversary of hip hop so there will be street art and street dancers as part of the festival, pushing the themes of sustainability and recycling.

Confessional has been supported by the Arts Council and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and remains the only festival to have been held in The Exchange in its nearly 160 year history.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Phil Riley, and firm supporter of the festival, said he was delighted to see it back again this year in Blackburn.

He added:

“Confessional has long been a highlight of Blackburn’s arts and cultural calendar, bringing to our Lancashire town the kinds of live acts you’d ordinarily only find playing in neighbouring cities.”

Line up

The line-up for Confessional 2023 takes in some of the best emerging grassroots artists from around the UK, alongside higher profile acts.

Friday’s set is stacked with huge names including Radio 1 played Scottish soul artist, Brooke Combe and sci fi inspired heavy rockers Calva Louise. Other names on the bill include Halifax based indie-pop band Wax Tree Cast; Nottingham rockers on the rise Cumcamaras and Accrington based The Rafters.

Saturday is topped by The Incredible Seven Hip Hop & R&B Band, who’ll be bringing fun-loving re-imaginations of iconic tracks by artists like Jay Z, Tupac and Beyoncé alongside The amazing Rianne Downey + full band, London based up-and-comer Abbie Ozard and Blackburn’s own Jacob Reddy.

The theme for this year’s event is Urban Junkyard, the juxtaposition of which against the venue’s historical charm creates an atmosphere that is sure to be both mesmerising and unforgettable.

First opened in April 1865, The Exchange was at the heart of the cotton industry in Blackburn, before becoming a popular entertainment and lecture venue, and later a cinema. Its expansive surrounds (whose magnificent stained-glass windows give it a church-like atmosphere) have hosted everyone from Harry Houdini to Charles Dickens, but Confessional holds the crown of being the only live music festival to have taken place in the venue through the course of its 158 year history.

Tickets and full line-up.