Guests at last night’s programme launch for the inaugural Belfast Photo Festival were told that the event – which has been two years in the making – aims to attract thousands of visitors to exhibitions being held in 25 different locations across the city. With famous names such as Simon Norfolk, Paul Seawright and Sophie Ristelhueber exhibiting alongside up and coming local artists, the Festival hopes to promote Belfast and Northern Ireland as a hub for photographic arts.

Supported by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Belfast City Council, business advisors PwC, the University of Ulster and Iris Colour, the Belfast Photo Festival is Northern Ireland’s first major photographic event celebrating some of the finest national and international contemporary photography and visual culture and will be held in the city from 4th – 14th August 2011.

3. Michael Weir, Chair and Director of the Belfast Photo Festival and Howard Hastings, Chair of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board look through a selection of photos which will be displayed as part of the Festival which runs from 4th – 14th August

Through exhibitions, interactive events and the open submission section – which attracted 600 entries – the organisers hope to inspire future photographers, artists and entrepreneurs and offer new, exciting, welcoming and sometimes challenging experiences to audiences through the Festival’s programme of events. Within these events the Festival also aims to also foster and develop critical debate, analysis and documentation of photographic arts practice in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Mayor, Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile, voiced Belfast City Council’s support for the event. “In this part of the world we are proud to boast many award-winning and internationally renowned contemporary photographers,” he said.

“This festival will present their high standard of work as well as highlighting the importance of photography in recording and documenting our colourful history”.

Howard Hastings, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board said: “Exciting new events such as the Belfast Photo Festival are very important in attracting domestic and international visitors to spend time in our vibrant cities.  The visitors that come to these events, and the financial benefit they bring, are of vital importance in stimulating growth and delivering economic value to many sectors of the local economy.  I’m pleased NITB is supporting the inaugural Belfast Photo Festival through the Events Funding Programme.”

PwC Managing Partner Hugh Crossey praised the festival as showcasing the regional image: “PwC is delighted to support the Festival and to be part of an event that is building a prestigious international reputation. Expanding Northern Ireland’s international reputation as a cultural centre builds investor credibility, expands tourism potential and facilitates economic regeneration. This is a great example of how culture and the economy can converge.”

Festival Director and Chairman of the Board, Michael Weir explained what the Belfast Photo Festival aims to “The event will offer photography in Northern Ireland’s visual culture and history is something we aim to highlight, while also embracing and showcasing upcoming photographic talent both at home and abroad through seeking out new/emerging talent.

“We aim to deliver Northern Ireland’s first festival of photography and visual culture, while helping to provide a forum and promote the growth of the current photographic infrastructure and practice throughout the country. We will also be supporting audience development across the arts and cultural sectors, which will be aided through our mobilization of the existing visual arts infrastructure.”

The full programme of events is available at