St Patrick, 1916, Bridget Christie and much more at Imagine! festival in Belfast

Tost, form the Dylan Quinn Dance Company, is at The MAC in Belfast on March 19

BELFAST will host writers Ruth Dudley Edwards and Owen Jones, comics Bridget Christie and Neil Dougan and a selection of talks, plays and debates during the Imagine! festival of ideas and politics next month.

Running across the city in 25 venues from March 14 to 20, the festival features more than 80 (mostly free) events and aims to “stimulate a discussion on new ideas, big questions and activism” and “broaden horizons and puncture preconceptions”.

In a year of assembly elections and various centenary commemorations, subjects range from `Making Sense of Elections’, `The Suffragettes: 100 years on’, `What is the State of Democracy in NI?’ and `1916: A Political Reflection'.

There will be a range of workshops, exhibitions, quizzes and tours and other names on the bill include Geoff Mulgan, Jennifer Rawlings, Jo Wolff, Avi Shlaim, Cathy Gormley-Heenan and John Higgs.

The theatre strand includes the premiere of Accidental Theatre’s Gordon Osram’s Funeral, The Rising at The MAC, a `Dramatising Political Ideas’ talk with playwright Jimmy McAleavey and Tinderbox, Deporting Patrick by Kabosh and Tost – from the Dylan Quinn Dance Company.

Imagine! will also offer a series of “alternative, affectionate and irreverent” St Patrick’s Day events – from a discussion on `pilgrimage, pints and parades’ with academics Dr Dominic Bryan and Dr Therese Cullen to comedian Neil Dougan’s show `St Patrick Was a Prod’.

"This festival provides a unique opportunity for people to have their say on some of the big issues of our time in a fun, dynamic way,” says festival director Peter O'Neill. "We want to encourage participation from people not normally involved in political debate and stimulate a discussion on new ideas and activism.”

The Imagine! festival runs in Belfast from March 14 to 20. For details, see and – on Twitter – @imaginebelfast

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