Northern Ireland news

Imagine! Belfast Festival kicks off in Belfast

From left, Libby Keys from Building Change Trust, comedian Tim McGarry and Peter O'Neill, Imagine Belfast Festival director. Picture by Kevin Cooper/ Photoline

A FESTIVAL hoping to encourage public discussion of big issues kicks off in Belfast today.

THE third Imagine! Belfast Festival has a programme of 86 events in 35 venues including comedy, music, theatre, poetry, exhibitions, talks and walks.

It aims to encourage participation from people not normally involved in political debate and stimulate discussion on new ideas and activism.

Taking place from March 20-26, topics include the recent assembly election, Brexit, and the legacy of St Patrick.

A discussion on the implications of Brexit will be held at the Ulster Museum and be chaired by John D'Arcy of Open University, with Colette FitzGerald of the European Commission in the north and Irish News editor Noel Doran among the panel.

Other speakers this week include award-winning journalist Catherine Mayer and Bill Adair, creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning US fact checking platform, PolitiFact.

Festival founder and director Peter O'Neill said the aim is to "spark new ideas on politics and culture".

"The festival - the biggest ever - provides a unique opportunity for people to engage with some of the big issues of our time in a fun and dynamic way," he said.

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