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Who are we?

Imagine Arts Festival is a unique celebration of the arts here in Waterford City. Imagine is a community Arts Festival that is run by a voluntary committee and aims to capture the essence of Waterford’s burgeoning artistic community and give it a national platform and therefore a bigger audience.  Our aim is to bring in the best of national and international artistic work and to inspire new ideas and thought within the local community through exposure to such talent and creativity. Imagine promotes both established and emerging artists, from the local, national and international arena.

A Brief History

Imagine was set up in 2001 by a group of arts workers and arts enthusiasts who felt that the city needed an artistic platform. Now in its 19th season, each year Imagine Arts Festival strives to present an exciting, eclectic and diverse range of artistic events which include theatre, music, comedy, visual art, dance, literature, film and children’s events. Imagine is supported by Waterford City and County Council, Failte Ireland and The Arts Council. Imagine also now incorporates both the John Dwyer Trad Weekend and Waterford Writers Weekend as part of the festival. Our vision is that Imagine continues to evolve, contributing to the ever growing economic, social and cultural tapestry of the south east.

Past Rock and Folk Music Acts have included: Leon Redbone, The Delines, Kitt Philippa, Ron Sexsmith, Mercury Rev, Waterson Carthy Band, Tim Eriksen, Holly Cooke, Penguin Cafe, Martin Stephenson, Yorkston Thorne and Khan, Bill Ryder Jones, The Unthanks, Billy Bragg, The Wedding Present, John Etheridge, Chris Wood, O Emperor, Andy Irvine, Wallis Bird, Martin Simpson and Peggy Seeger.

Trad Music acts that have appeared at JDTW include: John Dwyer, Castle Ceili Band, Ann Mulqueen, David Power, Liz and Yvonne Kane, Nell ní Chrónín, Dervish, Danu, Buillle, Mairead and Triona Ni Domhnaill, Mairtin O’Connor, Michael McGoldrick, Liam O’Flynn, Paddy Glacken, Noirin Ni Riain. T with the Maggies, Noel Hill, Frankie Gavin, The Kane Sisters, Mick and Aoife O’Brien


Dance Events: One of the biggest successes in the 19 years of Imagine is the annual Youth Dance Celebration which Imagine organises and makes happen - it sees every youth dance group come together for a showcase event – this includes contemporary, ballet, hip hop etc.  For professional dance we have had visits from Cois Ceim, Dance Theatre of Ireland, Ciotog, Genesis Collective and also for the last four years an excellent event bringing young choreographers together to showcase their work. 2019 brought '24 Hours To Dance', an exciting impromtu dance event that was a highlight of last years programme!

Visual Artists have included: Ernest Ruckle, Pat Murphy, Hughie O’Donoghue, Robert Ballagh, Tony Ryan, Anthony Pilbro, Janet Pierce, Amanda Coogan, Rosemary Higbee, a Patrick Morrisson retrospective, the Arts Council touring exhibition and Nigel Rolfe.

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Comedy Acts who have appeared at Imagine include: Rich Hall, Kevin McAleer, David O'Doherty, Jason Byrne, Abie Philbin Bowman, John Cooper Clarke, Kevin Bridges and David McSavage.

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Classical and Brass Classical fans have enjoyed: John O’Conor, Finghin Collins, Eric Sweeney, Bridget Knowles, RTE Vanbugh Quartet, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Black Dyke Brass Band, Dublin City Jazz Orchestra, RTE Concert Orchestra.

Literature and Spoken Word: In previous years Imagine has included such names as Willy Vlautin, Roger McGough, Linton Kwesi Johnson, John Cooper Clarke, Rita Ann Higgins, Joseph O’Connor, Peter Sheridan, Grace Wells, Mark Roper, Thomas McCarthy, Kevin Barry, John Banville and John McKenna.

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Childrens  events include: Cirkus Inferno, Aesops fabulous foibles and fables, Pignut theatre, Pandemonium Theatre, Storytellers Niall de Burca, Eddie Lenihan, Melissa Baker, music in schools with Tom Kaufman, Roger McGough, Parade of Light, Kite making workshops etc.

Theatre Acts: Imagine has brought some excellent national and touring work incl. Blue Raincoat in 2015 and 2017 and Theatre Royal productions ‘Memory of Water’ a new premiere and the new Opera ‘The Invader’ by Eric Sweeney and Mark Roper. Also individual performers like Donal O’Kelly, Mannix Flynn, John Nee, Katie O’Kelly, Declan O’Gorman etc.  Local shows have included plays by Jim Nolan, Pat Daly, Noel Kelly, and a number of writers involved in a youth theatre showcase of new writing called ‘Diversions’ which happened in site specific venues.

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Imagine Arts Festival realises that 2020 has been a difficult year for all workplaces and industries, and we would therefore like to acknowledge the continued support that Waterford businesses, large and small, have given to us over the years. Thank you!