Welcome to our festival where we bring you a unique way of imagining the future of the great city of Belfast. 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 our festival programmes as we try to road test this volatile world.

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 office facilities and high admin costs, please consider making a donation to allow us to run future events. Imagine! Belfast Ltd. is a not for profit, limited company (company number NI 614137, charity number NIC 101004).

Peter O’Neill, Festival Director

our mission

The mission of the festival is to provide high-quality showcases for the discussion of contemporary political and societal issues including new ideas on politics, culture and activism.

our aims

  • To organise an inspiring annual programme of performance, discussion and debate.
  • To encourage the participation of under-represented groups in political/cultural debate and discussion.
  • To stimulate reflection and discussion on difficult and controversial issues.
  • To promote free speech, good relations, cultural diversity and equality.

our values

  • We value the active participation of people in our work.
  • We will work in partnership and collaboration with like-minded individuals, agencies and other interests.
  • 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 strive to challenge, inspire and inform by programming a variety of innovative events .
  • We will promote the ideas of free speech, cultural diversity, equality, openness, dialogue, curiosity, internationalism, critical inquiry and aesthetic public culture.
  • We will strive to minimise our impact on the environment and promote biodiversity.
  • We will support and nurture home grown artists and contributors and the participation of under-represented sections of our community.
  • We will promote the value and authenticity of our heritage and cultural traditions.

6 things about imagine! belfast

  1. We are an independent, non-profit, registered charity (NIC 101004) with minimal administrative costs and no 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 tenth year, the festival is organising over 130 events and a number of special projects during 18-24 March 2024.
  5. Supported by over 50 partner organisations, the diverse seven-day festival programmes an eclectic mix of talks, workshops, theatre, poetry, comedy, music, film and performances.
  6. Our income is raised through ticket sales, donations and one-off grants. We would welcome your support!

our board members

Don Leeson (Chairperson); Ian Fraser (Treasurer); Julie Williams-Nash (Secretary); Ciarán Hanna; Martin Magee; Paul Maxwell; Paul Mulgrew; and Julie Taylor.


We appreciate the generous assistance of our funders this year which include: Belfast City Council, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Reconciliation Fund, National Lottery Community Fund, VSB Foundation, Queen’s University Belfast, The Open University Northern Ireland, Ulster University, Community Relations Council, Linen Quarter BID and Future Screens NI.


We couldn’t have produced this festival without the help of a great team of people who include Beth and Al at RVAlan Meban, Suzie McDonald at Lemonade Marketing, Joanne at Digital88, Richard Lavery and the team at Accidental Theatre, all of our funders, our 250+ speakers and performers, our venues, our trustees and advisory group, and of course, you our loyal audience members!

what we do?

Each March we organise a week-long series of events 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 major administration costs. The inaugural event was held in March 2015. The majority of the events in our festival are proposed as part of a public call for proposals conducted every October. Last year we received 90 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, we receive 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.


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.

In this climate of austerity, it’s difficult to secure public funding for our work – so if you feel like making a donation (no matter how small), you can do so on our Local Giving page. Thank you!

We’ll be in touch.