The Imagine! Belfast Festival, forced to abandon over 90 public events because of the Covid-19 pandemic, is going virtual with much of its programme going online to ensure that audiences don’t miss out.

Due to the current outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) this festival is now virtual!

In an imaginative response to the crisis, the popular event has been re-organised as a digital offering with 25 events streamed during 25-27 March. The virtual festival, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, is free to view on the Imagine! Belfast website - - and associated social media platforms.

The webcasting programme, broadcast over 25-27 March includes :-

  • Award-winning journalist and writer Paul Mason
  • Best-selling author and journalist Sam McBride in conversation with, Alan Meban
  • Open Democracy editor Adam Ramsay talking about the current threats to democracy across the world.

As well as talks, the wide-ranging programme also includes poetry, film reviews, comedy and panel discussions on the big issues of our time.

Keynote topics that will be addressed in the webcasts include :-

  • Climate extinction
  • How to combat the Coronavirus
  • The impact of this crisis on the arts sector - is more economic growth the answer?

Other speakers include :-

  • Neil Jameson, the founder of Citizens UK
  • Grainne Walsh, Director of Stratagem public affairs consultancy
  • Professor John Barry responding to the planetary emergency
  • Robin McAlpine on the future of the UK

Leading local film-maker Nicky Larkin will preview the world première of his documentary exploring the creation of The Belfast Ensemble’s provocative Abomination: A DUP Opera.

Other events in the diverse festival focus on community banks :-

  • The need for a Universal Basic Income
  • The legacy of the ‘Troubles’
  • Humanising Healthcare
  • The need for more participatory politics.

In addition, the festival has a number of events interrogating aspects of local history including :-

  • Atalk by leading historian, Barry Sheppard, on Bicycles and Protest
  • Book launch by Fergus Whelan on Belfast United Irishman William Drennan
  • The history of Whiskey and politics in Belfast with Martin McAuley

Slugger O’Toole will convene a panel to discuss the political response to COVID-19. Poetry is well represented with a special reading by the award-winning local poet, Chris Agee, and a special edition on politics from the Queer as Spoke team.

The funders for this year’s festival include VSB Foundation; Queen’s University Belfast; Community Relations Council; Ulster University and the Open University but the organisers hope donations will be received to support the additional costs involved in organising this unique cultural response to the Coronavirus crisis.

For more information and to visit the virtual festival, please visit!

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 12:00 - 8:00pm
Fri, 27 Mar 2020 12:00 - 8:00pm

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