Belfast is blessed with an abundance of wonderful art galleries which showcase the very best in local and international talent. 

This December, why not take some time out and visit one of the many exhibitions based within the city? 

From long standing art showcases to pop-up shops selling artwork (the perfect Christmas gift!), what follows is a list of just some of the must see exhibitions to visit this festive period. 

Beasts of Burden 

7 October – 23 December

Belfast Exposed

Free

Artist Paul Seawright turns his sights upon Rwanda in his solo photographic exhibition, ‘Beasts of Burden’. 

25 years after the Rwandan genocide, a project entitled “Cows for Peace” aimed to pair perpetrators with the victims to encourage reconciliation. Accompanying a group of photographers, Paul Seawright captures the essence of post-conflict life – and the kaleidoscope of expression that co-habits it.  

For more information, click here.

Artists on the Rise Pop-Up

5 November – 5 December

The Harrison Chambers of Distinction

Free

The quirky Harrison hotel serves as the backdrop for Artist on the Rise Pop Up – a curated selection of paintings by six accomplished emerging artists. 

Ronan Bowes, Karl Hagan, Janet Keith, Rachel Lawell, Joel Simon and Katherine St Angelo each demonstrate their unique styles, creating an eclectic and engaging exhibition. 

For more information, click here

John Rainey Exhibition

21 October – 22 December

The Naughton Gallery at Queens

Free

Artist John Rainey presents his first major solo exhibition on the island of Ireland since his residency at the British School at Rome. 

John Rainey’s work takes the viewer on a journey of exploration into the artist’s interpretation of portals, post-internet worlds and sculptural glitches. 

For more information, click here

We Us Them

25 November – 23 December

Belfast Exposed

Free

We, Us, Them is a collaboration between artists from Belfast Exposed Photography and the Centre of Contemporary Photography in Melbourne. 

The exhibition showcases the sovereign people who inhabit Australia and Northern Ireland, breaking down discrimination rooted within race and colour as well as the marginalisation of ethnicities who call their land ‘home’. 

For more information, click here

The Big Christmas Photo Sale 

30 November – 23 December

Belfast Exposed

Free

Just in time for the festive period is The Big Christmas Photo Sale – the perfect opportunity to snap up the perfect gift whilst supporting the local art community. 

On top of that, 25% of each sale will form a donation to Belfast Exposed Mental Health and Wellbeing programme. 

For more information, click here

ArtisAnn Christmas Art Show

3 November – 18 December

ArtisAnn Gallery

Free

Another excellent opportunity to support the arts is at the ArtisAnn Christmas Art Show, where 50 artists will be showcasing their work. 

Works will be added to the show as items get purchased – meaning that whether you arrive early or late, there’ll certainly be something to catch your eye.

For more information, click here

Ronnie Hughes: Isobar

8 December – 27 March

The MAC

Free, booking advised

The work of Ronnie Hughes shall be gracing the walls of the Upper Gallery!

An abstract artist, Hughes’ style is full of movement and flow, perfectly poised and balanced. Hughes describes the main theme of his work for Isobar as “the beauty, the fragility and the violence of being”. 

For more information, click here

Alfred Wallis: Artist & Mariner

8 December – 27 March

The MAC

Free

Once a scrap merchant and mariner, late artist Alfred Wallis began painting as a 70 year old recreationally.

Although making little income, Alfred became prolific for his disregard for the ‘formal’ rules of painting – instead, his freshness and lack of training became his asset. Utilising the unconventional at every turn – from perspective and scale to materials utilised – Wallis’ utilised art as a release from loneliness and nostalgia.

His work will be featured in The MAC this December – be sure to check it out. 

For more information, click here

140th RUA Annual Exhibition

Until 2 January 2022

Ulster Museum

Free

Showcasing painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video and more, the 140th RUA Annual Exhibition shi9mes a spotlight upon acclaimed artists and emerging talent alike. 

The Annual exhibition can also be experienced online using state of the art technology to create an extraordinary virtual tour that brings art to the people wherever they are.

For more information, click here.