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ABOUT THE Imagine Arts Festival

The 21st annual Imagine Arts Festival runs from Tuesday 25th – Sunday 30th October 2022 and incorporates The Waterford Writers Weekend.

This multi-disciplinary arts festival in Waterford city features an exciting, eclectic and diverse range of artistic events including theatre, music, comedy, visual art, dance, literature, film and children’s events.

THEME 2022

The Imagine Festival 2022 celebrates the harmonious unity of culture, creativity and community. Our theme this year is the Waterford Estuary; what it gives and takes from us. People, culture, language, song, dance, food, laugher, tears, joy, commerce, wins and losses… life.



Imagine Arts Festival is a unique celebration of the arts here in Waterford City.  We are a community Arts Festival run by a voluntary committee.

We like 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 feature the best of national and international artists and inspire new ideas and thought within the local community by exposure to such talent and creativity.  We promote established and emerging artists, from local, national and the international arena.



Creative Entrepreneur Sarah Jane Cleary has taken the helm at Waterford’s Imagine Arts Festival. Sarah Jane brings a wealth of experience, innovation and drive to her new role, invigorating the Imagine festival as it celebrates its 21st year in Waterford City.

Sarah Jane, who has years of experience in coordinating people and events was nominated ‘Creative Spirits’ Ambassador in the city, in 2011 she was a ‘Dragons Den’ winner, creating ‘Beauty Team Ireland’ and most recently was known for creating the popular and sorely missed venue ‘The Parlour Vintage Tea Rooms’ here in the city.

“I am honoured to accept the role as Director of Imagine Arts Festival as it celebrates its 21st birthday; it’s an incredible milestone!   Waterford has a great appetite for the arts.

Personally I am fascinated by our port city, its heritage and historical narrative. Every brick and breath from both past and present have an important story to tell.

We are a culturally diverse city where creativity and the arts serve as a universal language; connecting us all by building bridges of understanding, cooperation and fellowship. Our desire is to capture the imagination with an arts programme that blends the classic and contemporary, that will stimulate and inspire across multiple platforms and genres.”

Ollie Breslin, Festival Committee Member added:

“We are delighted to have Sarah Jane at the helm of Imagine Arts Festival and we know that she will help steer the festival in new directions and safely bring it into harbour for October to celebrate our 21st Birthday.”

Sarah Jane Cleary, Festival Director

The Imagine Arts Festival was set up in 2001 by a group of arts workers and arts enthusiasts who felt that the city needed an artistic platform.

Chair of the Imagine Arts Festival, Joe Kelly added:

“We are delighted to have new life injected into the Festival. Sarah Jane is an enthusiastic hard worker and we look forward to a re-imagined festival under her capable guidance this October!”

Waterford.FYI is proud to be associated with the Imagine Arts Festival as a media partner involved with the online communications, brand awareness and a hub for all digital activities for the festival.
Interactive Maps, in-depth articles, social media content and more will all be delivered by the Waterford.FYI team in the lead up to and during the festival.
Sarah Jane Cleary, Director of Imagine Arts Festival said:
“We are delighted to have Waterford.FYI on board as our media partner. Their local knowledge and expertise will be invaluable in helping us to reach our target audience and deliver a truly memorable festival.”
Dinesh Lalvani, CEO of Growl Media and developers of Waterford.FYI said
“We are very excited to be working with the Imagine Arts Festival. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the creativity that Waterford has to offer and we are looking forward to delivering an outstanding online experience for festival goers.”
For more information log on to





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 21st 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 incorporates the 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.





20th Imagine Arts Festival
Picture: Patrick Browne



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.

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 events have 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.

Childrens events have included 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 have been excellent national and touring work such as Blue Raincoat (2015 and 20170 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.

Trad Music Acts that have appeared at the John Dwyer Trad Weekend 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.

Performances had included Cois Ceim, Dance Theatre of Ireland, Ciotog, Genesis Collective and young choreographers showcasing their work. 

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.

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.

Kevin McAleer @ Imagine 2019
Author Megan Nolan at Imagine Arts
Black Dyke - Shane McDonald
Imagine Arts Festival 2021
Traditional music with Caoimhin O Fearghail and Paddy Tutty