Belfast Photo Festival, Northern Ireland’s premier visual arts festival and the photographic biennial of the Island of Ireland, is perhaps most loved for its celebration of national and international contemporary photography and attracting the biggest names in the photography industry to Belfast.

But, back in 2014 it took a daring step forward and launched Europe’s first photography festival for young people. Belfast Photo Festival Youth Edition was born and today marks the official launch of their 2016 programme of events running April 3 – May 30.

The festival, supported by Belfast City Council, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Iris Colour and The Foyle Foundation, will showcase a number of major exhibitions at Titanic Belfast and the Ulster Museum alongside a range of interactive workshops for young people exploring the theme of photography and sport.

Photo copyright Jo Longhurst - Cross

Photo copyright Jo Longhurst – Cross

The focus of this year’s festival is to open up photography to a younger audience by utilising Northern Ireland’s rich sporting culture for interactive workshops and major exhibitions capturing the art of boxing, gymnastics and skateboarding. It aims to encourage and present future talent, while providing training and skills development for young people through photography.

Some of this year’s festival highlights include the work of British artist Jo Longhurst exploring the physical and emotional experiences of elite gymnasts through photography, sculptural installation and performances by some of Northern Ireland’s elite artistic gymnasts in her show ‘Other Spaces’, the ‘Freestyle’ exhibition focusing on skate and BMX culture, and ‘Boxers’, the major boxing exhibition bringing together the works of American photographer, Larry Fink, and local photographer, Richard Wade, which features Belfast’s own Martin Rogan and former All-Ireland senior elite champion Fiona Nelson.

Photo Larry Fink Philadelphia

Photo Larry Fink Philadelphia

Speaking ahead of the event Belfast Photo Festival Director, Michael Weir, said: “We are delighted to officially launch our programme of events for the 2016 Belfast Photo Festival Youth Edition. With our theme of sport we aim to inspire, discover and develop Northern Ireland’s young, future photographers while celebrating our sporting champions and reinforcing the positive impact of sport and photography in our communities.”

Belfast Lord Mayor, Cllr Arder Carson, added: “In 2014 Belfast was honoured to play host to the Belfast Photo Festival Youth Edition, the first photography festival of its kind in Europe dedicated to young people. This year we are privileged to see its return and contribution to the events calendar for the young people of our city. It is a delight to see our own sports personalities as the subjects too. Belfast has a thriving culture of arts and an ever-increasing amount of sporting accolades. It is wonderful to see these celebrated as one.”

Deirdre Robb, Visual Arts Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “Congratulations to the team at the Belfast Photo Festival for producing another impressive programme of events for 2016.  With most people now owning a good quality camera photography is a really accessible art form and there’s no excuse not to get involved in this year’s brilliant festival which offers something for everyone.”

For the full festival programme visit

There were a few big hitters at the launch on Thursday…

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