Imagine! Belfast to hold north's first online festival amid coronavirus outbreak

Journalist and writer Paul Mason will be appearing at this year's online Imagine! Belfast Festival

A LEADING Belfast festival will be streamed online for free later this week.

The Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics had been forced to abandon more than 90 events amid the coronavirus outbreak.

However, some of the events are now going online, making it Northern Ireland's first virtual festival.

A total of 25 events will be streamed between Wednesday and Friday.

The full programme and times of each event will be released today.

The programme will include conversations with award-winning journalist and writer Paul Mason and Burned author and News Letter journalist Sam McBride.

An exhibition of artwork based on the theme of mental health, entitled Art as Therapy, will be available as an online gallery.

The programme will also include poetry, film reviews, comedy and panel discussions.

Festival organiser Peter O'Neill said he was keen for some events to go ahead, albeit online.

Some of the events were recorded last week, before the full impact of the coronavirus outbreak hit.

"Suffice to say, we are gutted to find ourselves in this predicament, but we believe by organising NI's first virtual festival we can salvage something from this crisis and keep culture alive during what is likely to be an extremely anxious and life-threatening period," he said.

Mr O'Neill said viewers could expect some new shows and "surprises" throughout the three-day festival.

The virtual festival will be free to view on the Imagine! Belfast website at

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