Blues Festival 2023 (35)


by Laura Storey

 The small East Lancashire town of Colne welcomed thousands of people to the town over the August Bank Holiday Weekend as the Great British R&B Festival returned.

Organised by Colne Town Council and the Colne Blues Society, visitors were treated to a spectacular weekend of live music and family fun entertainment, including the very best of blues music in the UK right now.

Over 30 artists performed across two stages, the Pendle Hippodrome and The Exchange Project Stage, including sensational performances from headliners Aynsley Lister, Xander & The Peace Pirates and Elles Bailey, the latter of which closed the festival on Sunday evening with a world-class performance.

Those attending enjoyed wonderful live music across the full weekend, with teen sensation Toby Lee, multi-award winner Dom Martin, as well as blues legends Alice Armstrong and Emma Wilson also amongst the performers.

They were also joined in the main venues by some incredible local talent, including Fandjango, J-Bear and The Giants and The Imperials.

The live music continued with The Official Fringe, which saw over 130 performances across 14 venues and showcased an exceptional quality of blues musicians from around the UK, expertly organised by The Colne Blues Society.

The shops, pubs and eateries of Colne were also bustling with visitors, with people making the most of the August Bank Holiday weekend and shopping local.

Sponsored by Barnfield Construction Ltd, the event also featured a fantastic line-up of family fun entertainment, including a wide variety of street food vendors, face painting and stalls, as well as performances from Elton Wrong and the Unicyclist Walkabout Entertainer, Blues Brothers Stilt Walkers, Musical Ruth on the magical mobile piano, the eye-catching Mirror Men and the extremely popular LED Robot.

Plenty of visitors opted to make a weekend of it, taking advantage of the festival’s official campsite at Colne and Nelson Rugby Club, which offered tremendous facilities and stunning views, as well as live music from the Rugby Club itself, one of the Official Fringe venues.

Nathan Cutler, Colne Town Council’s Events Officer, said: “Wow, what an incredible event. We didn’t think we could top last year, but we, alongside our fantastic artistic directors Colne Blues Society and all our brilliant partners, have put on a festival which will go down long in the memory.

“People have turned out in their thousands once again, and it has been amazing to see so many people in the town, enjoying live music and exploring all the brilliant local shops, restaurants, bars and eateries we are so proud to have here in Colne.”

Simon Shackleton, Festival Coordinator at Colne Blues Society, added: “This is our first year programming the Great British R&B Festival, and we have had the most awesome experience.

“It has been so rewarding seeing the venues full, people enjoying themselves and being able to welcome the most talented blues artists in the UK right here to Colne.

“The town has been packed all weekend, and our Official Fringe venues have welcomed incredible numbers of people through their doors with visitors eager to check out some exceptional live music, and we are so proud to have been a part of it.”

For more reactions from this year’s event, visit

Tickets for the 2024 Great British R&B Festival are already on sale and can be purchased here: