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20th - 24th October 2021

Imagine Arts Festival

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.

Imagine Arts Festival 2021

The 20th annual Imagine Arts Festival announces five headline events for the 2021 festival, which will take place in Waterford City from October 15th to 24th.Best-selling and critically acclaimed broadcaster and comedian Colm O’Regan will take to the stage for a much-needed dose of comedy on Saturday, October 23rd at the Theatre Royal Waterford. Colm has performed all over the world and hosts Ireland’s most successful storytelling night the Dublin Story Slam and is resident MC at Inn Jokes, one of Dublin’s longest-established Comedy Clubs.Four music acts are being announced including Aoife Nessa Frances who will perform on Thursday, October 21st at 8 pm at St. Patrick’s Gateway. The Dublin-based singer-songwriter Aoife Nessa Frances finds the words, melodies, and emotions that bind the comings and goings of being a young woman in Ireland. Her debut album 'Land of No Junction' was released in January 2020 and received widespread critical acclaim. Tickets to this gig are €15 plus booking fee.Singer and songwriter Junior Brother will perform on Friday, October 22nd at St. Patrick’s Gateway at 9 pm. Chosen as one of RTÉ's Rising Irish Stars of 2018, and as one of The Irish Times' contenders ready to breakthrough in 2019, Junior Brother has built a rabid following thanks to unmissable live shows, and music both excitingly forward-looking and anciently evocative. Tickets to this gig are €15 plus booking fee.Rapper Nealo who will perform at the Theatre Royal in the City on October 24th he will be supported by Waterford’s very own Carrie Baxter, tickets are €18.50. Nealo is a rapper cut from a different cloth. Taking influence from Jazz Rap, Conscious Rap, and R&B, his lyrics blend deeply rooted personal philosophies with classic Dublinisms in a manner that is equal parts emotive and compelling. At the core of Nealo’s live show is the dynamic and love that the people on stage share, resulting in a metamorphosing experience that seeps into the fabric of any venue they happen to occupy. Carrie Baxter has emerged as one of the most thrilling new forces in Irish music. Following a string of acclaimed singles released over the last few months, she has rapidly established a reputation as an artist unafraid to deliver devastatingly powerful personal insights in every line.And Dublin-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin will perform at St. Patrick’s Gateway on Sunday, October 24th. Eoghan’s musical roots lie in the sean-nós style of his father, and he grew up listening to the likes of Sorcha Ní Ghuairim, Seán ‘ac Dhonncha, Colm Ó Caoidheáin, and other greats from the tradition. He is also influenced by folk singers from the English language tradition such as Liam Weldon, Thomas McCarthy, Margaret Barry, and Luke Kelly. Tickets to this gig are €15 plus booking fee.

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.

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.

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.

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.