Spark your imagination at Belfast’s festival of ideas and politics

The Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics returns for its 8th annual outing next month with another huge range of events involving keynotes such as Michael Ignatieff, Tom Robinson, Kit de Waal, Michael Longley and a host of exciting arts and cultural events.

By Julie-Ann Spence
Friday, 18th February 2022, 7:00 pm

Taking place during March 21-27, the strictly non-partisan festival offers up an eclectic week of talks, workshops, theatre, comedy, music, exhibitions, film and tours and with over 150 in-person and live events, there’s bound to be something of interest for everyone. Most of the events are free, with loads taking place in venues right across the city as the festival returns to live events after two years operating online.

According to Peter O’Neill, Festival Director: “We are delighted to bring you this unique way of imagining the future of Belfast and Northern Ireland as we approach the Assembly elections. Our festival has gone from strength to strength and we are looking forward to welcoming thousands of people to our biggest offering to date with over 150 events, taking place 21-27 March. We hope to address the big issues of our troubled times and promote debate on diverse opinion and new ideas on politics, culture and activism. Goodness knows, we need a bit of inspiration as we try to make sense of this volatile world!”

The festival delighted to welcome the iconic musician and broadcaster Tom Robinson for an evening of songs and stories at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast on March 26. During this solo show, expect intimate versions of classics such as War Baby, Glad To Be Gay and 2-4-6-8 Motorway alongside stories from behind the scenes and a sprinkling of fan favourites from his extensive back catalogue. Tom will be supported by Paul Connolly, lead singer of the Wood Burning Savages.

Tom Rebinson

Join Northern Ireland’s Queen of Comedy, Nuala McKeever, as she brings her stand-up show to The Crescent as part of Imagine Festival 2022 on March 22, to take a laugh-out-loud look back at how we coped with Life in the Time of Corona.

At ‘Why We Need More Diversity In Publishing: Kit de Waal and Paul McVeigh’ at the Crescent Arts Centre on March 27, two of our leading authors who have championed working class writers discuss the lack of diversity in publishing and the importance of promoting a wider range of voices in literature.

Historical entertainer Paddy Cullivan brings you the incredible story of the death of Ireland’s first Commander-in-Chief, Michael Collins, with this audio-visual spectacular featuring hundreds of images, shocking new research and incredible songs at the Black Box on March 21.

Spend an evening with Michael Longley in conversation with William Crawley at the Canada Room at Queen’s University on March 22. This interview, interspersed with readings, will examine the thorny relationship between poetry and politics and the artistic challenges of addressing contentious political and cultural issues.

Nuala McKeever

Other highlights include Bill Neely - 40 Years In TV News, on March 24, comedian Tony Law with his surreal take on free speech and all things political at the Black Box on March 27, and a powerful new one-woman play from Amanda Verlaque, at the Lyric Theatre from March 220 April 2, which uses personal experience to ask why the privileges and protections granted to most of society remain disgracefully out of reach for Northern Ireland’s LGBT+ community.

Check out the full programme of over 150 events at

Writer Kit de Waal