One of the largest festivals on these islands, the Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics returns today (Monday 22nd March) for a week-long virtual event. Last year, Imagine! was the first festival to go online in Northern Ireland and has doubled its output for its 2021 programme with over 115 free webcasts available via – imaginebelfast.com.
Festival director Peter O’Neill commented:
“We are delighted to return for our seventh year and host our biggest ever event. The virtual nature of the year’s event means we have been able to attract amazing performers and speakers so we have some fantastic events in our virtual pipeline. We want to encourage people to look outside of our local politics, and probe what is behind the biggest issues of our times.” Leading global figures and experts from around the world will feature across the week, including Noam Chomsky, regarded as one of the leading intellectuals of our age, renowned playwright and commentator Bonnie Greer and a host of local talent. Other ‘headliners’ include Bill McKibben, Angie Drobnic Holan, Paul Mason, Claire Fox, Gavin Esler, Roman Krznaric, Neil Hegarty, Sinéad Gleeson, Charles Leadbeater and Senator Eileen Flynn. Working with over 50 festival partners, events have been organised, for example, with the British Academy, Ulster Orchestra, Ballet Black, the Chilean arts group Memorante, open Democracy and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Peter O’Neill added:
“This year’s theme is, ‘The State of Us’ which allows us to consider current debates about partition, the centenary of Northern Ireland and a range of socio-economic issues. It would remiss for us to not discuss COVID-19 and its lasting impact on how we live. We are examining the year of loss through an art installation at Connswater Shopping Centre, ‘The Year That Never Was’ which will show some of the events and milestones that were missed whilst looking ahead to see what was gained. Our highly successful, ‘Build Belfast Back Better’ campaign will also be debated and consider what we would like to do differently as a city going forward. We look forward to discussing and debating these and many other issues at our forthcoming festival.”
Tickets for the Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics 2021 are available via imaginebelfast.com.