welcome to imagine!

Welcome to our 6th festival where we bring you a unique way of imagining the future of this great city. You are invited to join us in discussing the big issues of our times including new ideas on politics, culture and activism. There’s something for everyone in this eclectic programme as we try to navigate this stormy world. Events include workshops, talks, exhibitions, film screenings, performance art, music, theatre, poetry, tours, and comedy with most events free.

As a non-profit organisation, reflective of the wider community, the festival has been put together by a team of volunteers and our thanks are due to our wonderful funders, collaborators, performers, speakers, board members and advisory committee members for their generous support. Funding is difficult to secure for this type of festival and as we don’t have any staff or office facilities, please consider making a donation to allow us to run future events. Imagine! Belfast is a not for profit, limited company (company number NI 614137, charity number NIC 101004).

Enjoy the festival and I look forward to seeing you at the events.

Peter O’Neill, Festival Director

our mission

Our mission is to excite people’s minds and passions by organising an inspiring annual programme of performance, discussion and debate.

our aims

Our key aims are to provide a high quality showcase for new ideas on politics, culture and activism in Northern Ireland; to encourage the participation of under-represented groups in political/cultural debate and discussion; to stimulate reflection and debate on difficult and controversial issues; to promote free speech.

six things about imagine! belfast

  1. We are an independent, non-profit, registered charity (NIC 101004) with minimal administrative costs and no staff or offices.
  2. We are not aligned with any political party or group and strictly non-partisan.
  3. We want to encourage participation from people not normally involved in political debate and stimulate a discussion on new ideas on culture and activism.
  4. Now in its sixth year, the festival is organising over 90 events across 30 venues throughout the city in 2020.
  5. Supported by over 58 partner organisations, the diverse seven-day festival programmes an eclectic mix of talks, workshops, theatre, poetry, comedy, music, exhibitions, film and tours.
  6. Our income is raised through ticket sales, donations and one-off grants. We would welcome your support!

the detail

The week-long series of events is aimed at engaging people in political/cultural discussion and debate in the broadest sense. The festival seeks to cover a wide spectrum of issues including, but certainly not limited to, mainstream political debate.

The festival is a registered charity (NIC101004) organised by a team of volunteers with no staff or major administration costs. The inaugural event was held in March 2015. The majority of the events in this programme were proposed as part of a public call for proposals conducted in November 2019. We received 57 event proposals from groups and members of the public – the vast majority we were able to support. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this submission process.

We are not aligned with any political party or particular interest group. Although initially based in Belfast, we would like to extend the festival to other parts of Northern Ireland. We don’t receive corporate funding: instead we are supported by our partners and individual donations – so please feel generous!

Participation in the festival is open to all and while the main debates will not be party-political, groups and individuals are encouraged to debate those ‘difficult’ and contentious issues that normally don’t air in public discussion. We are keen to hear from people who are interested in politics / culture and we welcome suggestions for speakers and subjects no matter how controversial.

The festival is administered by Imagine! Belfast in association with various event organisers and venues. The views expressed by speakers and participants in the festival do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policy positions of Imagine Belfast, the festival funders or associates. In particular, this festival has received support from the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council which aims to promote a pluralist society characterised by equity, respect for diversity, and recognition of interdependence. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Community Relations Council.

our values

  • We value the active participation of citizens in our festival.
  • We will promote free speech, cultural diversity and equality.
  • We strive to challenge, inspire and inform by programming a variety of innovative events and performances.
  • We will be accessible and ensure participation from all sections of the community in our activities.
  • Our festival will be affordable, and will include the programming of free events.
  • We will work in partnership and collaboration with like-minded individuals and agencies; speakers and performers; venues and other interests.
  • We will support and nurture home grown contributors and the participation of under-represented groups in the festival.
  • We will promote the value and authenticity of our heritage and cultural traditions.

2020 festival funders

2020 funders

The following agencies and venues are involved in the 2020 festival

VSB Foundation; Queen’s University Belfast; Ulster University; The Open University Northern Ireland; The 343; Accidental Theatre; Basic Income Group; Black Box; British Academy; British Council; Citizens UK; Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas; Centre for Global Education; Clifton House; Collaboration for Change; Corrymeela Community; Crescent Arts Centre; Cumann Cultúrtha Mhic Reachtain; DC Tours; Golden Thread Gallery; Hidden Belfast; Integrated Education Fund; International Futures Forum; Irish Pages; Irish Writers Centre; Fact Check NI; Framewerk Gallery; Linen Quarter BID; Macha productions; NIHRC; Northern Visions /NVTV; Northern Slant; open Democracy; Positive Money NI; QFT; Slugger O’Toole; Strand Arts Centre; Sunflower Bar; The Transnational Institute; Together in Pieces Interactive CIC; UK Parliament and Washington Ireland Programme.

our board members

Dónal McBrien (Chairperson); Don Leeson (Treasurer); Lindsey Mitchell (Secretary); Paul Braithwaite; Ciarán Hanna; Martin Magee; Paul Mulgrew; Julie Taylor; Julie Williams-Nash.


We value your feedback on this festival. Let us know what you think about the way we have developed this and any suggestions you may have on how to improve the festival in the future.