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First Look Festival

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L-R: Paul McCartney © Mary McCartney; Self Portrait © Tracey Emin, February 2023; Jamie Fobert © Laura Pannack.

National Portrait Gallery’s reopening.

First Look Festival gives you the chance to celebrate and experience the all new National Portrait Gallery. A special in-conversation event with Paul McCartney will headline the Festival.

From artist talks and curator tours, to practical workshops and DJ sets, with events and activities for adults, families, young people and schools, festival highlights include in-conversations with artist Tracey Emin and architect Jamie Fobert. It will also  provide opportunities for a ‘first look’ at the transformed building and its new spaces, the redisplayed Collection and major exhibitions, as well as the Gallery’s shops, café, bar and restaurant.

Reopening day visitors will be given the opportunity to meet curators as well as take free creative art and photography workshops There will be free poetry performances from Sharan Hunjan of the 4 Brown Girls Who Write collective, guest DJ sets – spun on vinyl by Eddie Otchere and DJ Lady Kamikaze – and Deaf-led and British Sign Language interpreted sessions and descriptive events for partially sighted visitors.

For families, the festival includes a range of free activities on Saturday 24 June and Saturday 1 July, where you can discover our new spaces and faces through trails, storytelling sessions and family tours. Young people can take part in a variety of free activities including artist workshops, tours, spoken word, music and film screenings on Sunday 25 June and Sunday 2 July.

Following the First Look Festival, additional programming this summer will include a film season curated by Paul McCartney, showcasing the seminal films that had a significant influence on him; an photography workshop, inviting participants to take to the streets of Soho to capture portraits on 35mm film; and a panel discussion examining ideas of otherness, gender and performance, as explored in the exhibition Yevonde: Life and Colour.

Further Information:  Home - National Portrait Gallery (

Tickets for all events go on sale on Wednesday 10 May 2023. Members receive priority booking and discounted rates from 3 May 2023.