Top Photography Festivals You Should Join at Least Once in Your Life

Let's explore some of the top photography events that you don't want to miss!

Speaker talking to an audience at a photography festival

Whether you're an aspiring photographer or a seasoned expert, joining photography festivals is a unique opportunity to witness the creativity and innovation that shape the photography industry. So let's explore some of the top photography events that you don't want to miss!

Why go to a photography festival? 

Photography festivals offer a great opportunity to meet other photographers, participate in workshops, visit exhibits, and sometimes even showcase your portfolio. But it's the ambience that creates a real celebration of photography and the full experience is often completed by music presentations, galas, and gastronomy. Yep! It is not just about photography.

While some festivals are international, we'll uncover the local ones here today as well. No worries if you don't speak the local language! Thankfully, many festivals offer bilingual experiences. And hey, when it comes down to it photography is our universal language, isn't it?

Rencontres d'Arles de la Photographie | Arles, France

The oldest and largest photography festival in the world

This is the oldest Photography Festival which was founded in 1970 in this little French town named Arles. The exhibitions take place on various historic sites and the whole town is a festivity, you can breathe photography in every single street. 

You can attend from July until September, but the highlight is to be present during the inauguration week, the town is a nice photography joy, and almost every night there are open events to attend in the beautiful open historical venues. 

This festival gives you more than what anyone can digest, it is a huge festival and is impossible to absorb so much imagination and visual storytelling even in a full week, that's why you feel the need to come back the following year.

Experience the magic with this short video!

PhotoVille | New York

Shipping containers turned in photo-galleries

Isn't it just incredible? The Photoville Festival nestled under the Brooklyn Bridge offers such breathtaking scenery. It's an open space that really fosters a sense of community. Who doesn't like exhibitions held in open and accessible spaces that everyone can enjoy?

PhotoExperimental | Barcelona

Analog photography and experimenting with different techniques

Over the course of a week, this festival in Barcelona shines a spotlight on photographers who are all about experimental photography. Think about pushing the boundaries, thinking outside the box, and bringing back to life those materials and techniques that are experiencing a resurgence. It's a celebration of creativity, innovation, and the timeless charm of analogue photography.

2023 highlights of PhotoExperimental

Additionally, the organiser of the festival has an online academy where you can learn new skills and expand your knowledge. If you're eager to broaden your horizons, this platform could be the perfect destination for you!

BAPHOTO | Buenos Aires 

We're veering off the traditional festival track a bit here – this isn't your typical festival; it's more of a fair, which offers a slightly different vibe.

Unlike festivals, fairs usually serve as a unique space where art galleries showcase the artists they are representing. The atmosphere at a fair isn't quite as dynamic as at a festival; you tend to feel more like a spectator visiting rather than actively participating.

BAphoto is a unique art fair in Latin America, specialising in photography and with 19 years of trajectory, it takes place every year in Buenos Aires. Each edition features the participation of more than 40 galleries from all over the world as well as sections curated by prestigious figures of Latin American art.

PHOTO2024| Melbourne - Australia

Turning Melbourne into a beautiful photo gallery

At Photo2024, you can discover 100 free exhibitions at galleries and unexpected outdoor locations in Melbourne & Victoria. With over 110 tours, talks, and workshops across 8 festival precincts - it's a one-way ticket to the world of photography!

Plus, you'll get the chance to meet over 150 visionary photographers and artists from Australia and around the world. Whether you're a seasoned photographer or just starting out, there's something for everyone to learn and explore.

UNSEEN | Amsterdam

Back to cheating with another fair

...But Unseen happens to be not just an art fair; it's a celebration of the cutting edge in contemporary photography. Emerging from diverse backgrounds, contemporary photographers showcase unexpected perspectives, pushing the boundaries of the medium with innovation, intelligence, inspiration, and provocation.

Last year's edition of Unseen Amsterdam

Belfast Photo Festival | UK

Belfast Photo Festival is the UK and Ireland's largest annual festival of photography and attracts upwards of 100 thousand physical visitors a year. 

The festival aims to inspire public enjoyment,  participation, and positive social and environmental impact by utilising the most accessible artistic mediums and bringing them to both established and new audiences all with photography as a main character. 

Photo: Zanele Muholi - Belfast Photo Festival

Which festival are you interested in?

Unfortunately, there's a bit of a challenge ahead! A few of these festivals are scheduled for the same time of year, and some are coming up soon, leaving us with limited time to prepare for a visit.

However, all these photography festivals and fairs happen every year, giving us plenty of time to plan the trip in advance.

Additionally, you're not limited to being just a visitor; many of these festivals offer opportunities for participation as an exhibitor (except for fairs, for those you must be represented by a gallery). What a thrilling prospect—you never know, perhaps your photographs could be gracing the walls of a gallery halfway across the globe next time around.