Children’s book brings the magic of Blackburn alive this Christmas

A specially commissioned book about Blackburn town centre will be brought to life this Christmas via an interactive trail for families.   

Believe in the Magic of Blackburn Town Centre, written by award-winning local author Christina Gabbitas, features a make-believe family and their adventures in the centre of Blackburn.   

The book, available to buy from 20 November, will form the backbone of the interactive trail organised by Blackburn town centre Business Improvement District (BID), taking in the various locations in the book.   

A map featuring the landmarks is included in each copy of the book, providing families with a socially distanced treasure hunt around the town centre.    

At each of the locations, families can scan a QR code via the Experience Blackburn app to reveal a letter. Once all the letters have been found they can enter a draw to be in with a chance of winning £150 in Blackburn shopping vouchers.   

In the story, Peggy and Imtiaz explore Blackburn Museum and find a secret passage in the Egyptian room. A gold coin rolling down the passage captures Peggy’s attention. They follow the coin which takes them back in time to the 1800’s.   

As they visit locations such as King George’s Hall, Blakey Moor, the Library, the Market, Cathedral and The Mall, they realise that their journey back in time is about bringing magic to the future.   

The book has been commissioned by Blackburn BID and supported by The Mall Blackburn, King George’s Hall, Blackburn with Darwen Council, Blackburn Library, Blackburn Market and Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery.  The books will be available in each of the locations featured and on the website.   

Christina said: “I really enjoyed writing this book. It made me remember lots of highlights from my childhood and it was magical to visit some of the places I loved to visit as a child. I used the town’s history as my inspiration to write the story.   

“Bringing the book to life via the magical interactive trail will give another dimension to the story and allow even more families to enjoy the story – and the town centre.”   

To mark the launch of the book, Blackburn-born Christina will be streaming a special reading to schools within the Blackburn with Darwen area.

A Q&A will also be held via Facebook Live at 6.30pm on Friday 20 November on the Blackburn BID Facebook page.   

Between 27 November and 28 December visitors will be able to view animated illustrations from the book with narration by the author Christina Gabbitas projected on to Blackburn Town Hall. 

A quiz about the book is available on the book’s website, giving children and families an opportunity to win a selection of prizes, including signed books and an art set. The winners will be announced at the book launch on 20th November.   

Catherine Price, Blackburn town centre BID Manager, said: “I’ve been fortunate to see the finished book and it truly is magical. It creates so much excitement around the town centre.

“After such a difficult year for town centre businesses, we hope families come and find out more about the places featured and enjoy the magic of Blackburn town centre. We want people to come and experience Blackburn and learn more about it, but we want people to do so safely.” 

The book and trail is part of ‘Believe in Blackburn town centre: Christmas 2020 Reimagined’ organised by Blackburn BID and aimed at delivering a series of initiatives to support Blackburn businesses and provide festive themed activities for people to experience in Blackburn safely in the run up to Christmas. 

The story features blackburn with Darwen Council’s very own Mayor, Cllr Iftakhar Hussain.

Speaking about the book, he said: ‘’This is wonderful piece of work from such a highly-esteemed and award winning author. I am very much looking forward to the launch of this book. It has been a great honour to be part of this project.

“The book will help to promote our fantastic borough and bring communities together in these difficult times. My congratulations go to Christina and everyone involved for bringing this magical book to life.”

©2021 Blackburn BID

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