Going by the book in Belfast
Literary heavyweights launch series of cultural events at glittering gala
The greatest names among Northern Ireland's literary elite gathered together to launch a series of cultural events taking place throughout Belfast.
The lavish gala event in Belfast's Ulster Hall last night marked the beginning of Literary Belfast - a series of events which are scheduled across the city over the coming weeks.
Notable names, including internationally renowned novelists and poets, graced the stage during last night's celebrations, including Belfast playwright Martin Lynch and Bangor's Colin Bateman.
Bateman, who began his literary career in journalism, has written several best-selling novels including Divorcing Jack - which was subsequently made into a feature film starring Harry Potter actor David Thewlis.
Belfast-born poet Michael Longley also shared the stage last night.
With a breadth of literary works spanning four decades he has picked up several awards including the prestigious Whitbread Poetry Prize for his collection, Gorse Fires.
Christopher Stalford, chair of Belfast City Council's development committee, said the event was an opportunity to explore Northern Ireland's expansive range of literature.
"Literary Belfast is very much alive, with a multitude of events, festivals and venues which will take you to places old and new, through history and the changing modern city alike," he said.
"There are few better ways to get to know a city than through its writers, whether they are locals who appreciate every nuance of the complex city, or visiting scribes writing of how Belfast assaults the senses of those who meet it for the first time.
"Belfast's literary heritage has an important role to play in place-making and is an important dimension in marketing Belfast as an international destination."
Last night's event also promoted the launch of the Belfast Poets' and Writers' Exhibition as well as the opening of the BBC Literary Archive at Belfast City Hall.
Along with the series of events on offer over the next few weeks, Literary Belfast has also launched a new iPhone application.
This gives users access to a wide range of content including video guides to the city from renowned writers including Seamus Heaney and contemporary poet Paul Muldoon.
Keen bookworms eager to get involved in the series of events can visit the website at www.literarybelfast.org for more information.