Champion Artistic Excellence at This Year’s Imagine Arts Festival

Get ready for an extraordinary celebration of the arts as the Imagine Arts Festival 2023 returns to captivate imaginations from tomorrow, October 24, and running through Sunday, October 29…all around Waterford City. Under the visionary leadership of Festival Director, Sinéad Dunphy, this year's programme ushers in a new era of artistic exploration and innovation.

“In my debut year as Festival Director, I am honoured to present a programme that invites you to immerse yourself in the boundless world of creativity,” Sinéad says. “The Imagine Arts Festival 2023 is a testament to the enduring power of the arts, and we are also focusing our resources on supporting artists and their artform development. I am excited to share this captivating journey with you all.”

Here’s a glimpse of the Imagine Arts Festival 2023 Programme:

Dazzling Visual Arts Exhibitions

Immerse yourself in a world of colours, shapes, and thought-provoking artistry as visual arts exhibitions take centre stage. From contemporary masterpieces to experimental installations, you will be awed by the diversity of artistic expression.

This year, Visual Artists include the incredible Pat O’Brien, Joe McNicholas, Gillian O’Shea, Emma Doig, Paul J. Bolger, Lillian O’Sullivan, John R. Foley, photographer, and the late Geraldine Kavanagh. In addition, an exhibition exploring a sustainable future through the captivating art of Kathi Burke through My Sustainable Waterford Programme, Our Waterford 2040. With such an eclectic mix, everyone is guaranteed to find something they love.

Cutting-Edge Performance Art

robot musical

The Festival’s performance art series pushes boundaries and challenges perceptions. With a line-up featuring world-class theatre, dance, and multimedia performances, audiences are transported to realms of wonder and emotion. The Festival has committed to supporting the development of artists and artforms, and as such, there will be a number of rehearsed readings and works-in-progress from locals Derek Flynn, Martina Collender and Deirdre Dwyer on behalf of Little Red Kettle.

In addition, don’t miss Nicola Spendlove’s, Flat and Curlew Theatre’s, The Loves of Lady Gregory, Graffiti Theatre Company’s Humans: A Robot Musical, and Waterford Dramatic Society’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

Under the dance banner, go see Sophie Hutchinson join Rónán Ó Snodaigh and Myles O’Reilly for their concert weaving contemporary dance into their musical offering, along with a number of movement workshops. Also check out Subhashini Goda perform Bharatanatyam dance with spoken word. Alien:Nation, a local collective of multidisciplinary artists, will combine their efforts in creating a specially commissioned multi-disciplinary show Webbing.

The Irish language is brought to the fore throughout the program with a number of events being bilingual, including the spoken word, rapping, music and story-telling event Reic. 

Plus, for an extra special offering, Imagine Arts Festival is teaming up with Spraoi Arts Festival to present a spooky Samhain event in the People’s Park! There truly is something for everyone when looking at the broad and imaginative offerings under the Performance strand.

Eclectic Music Showcases

Brigid May Power

Music aficionados rejoice in a series of eclectic performances spanning classical, contemporary, and global genres. Whether you’re into folk, trad, opera or world beats, the music events will strike a chord with every taste.

New partnerships with Music Network and Irish National Opera bring this year’s Festival an exceptional offering. Irish National Opera will bring opera to the masses in a futuristic manner by way of a bite-sized VR experience in a bilingual digital opera.

Music Network’s quartet gig—Noriana Kennedy, Mirella Murray, Oisín Mac Diarmada and Donogh Hennessy—brings the finest traditional Irish musicians together. This concert was released for sale a number of weeks ago as part of the Festival’s sneak peek, which accompanied the Rónán Ó Snodaigh and Myles O’Reilly, Niall McCabe, Brigid Mae Power, and Camille O’Sullivan Concerts.

Since then, the Festival is thrilled to add Síomha, Grave Goods, Mamacha, Leon Bishop, as well as a concert to commemorate the late great Eric Sweeney. The perennial favourite—Booze, Blaas and Banter—returns with a whole host of incredible musicians and storytellers.

Heritage Events

Behind Closed Doors

Explore the rich tapestry of our cultural heritage through a series of engaging events. From spooky tours, a look back at Waterford’s most favourite brand to the mystery behind closed doors, you have the chance to connect with the past in a vibrant and immersive way.

James Doherty’s Spooky Walking tours will get us in the Halloween mood, while Des Griffin’s tour of the surrounding areas of Christ Church Cathedral in its urban context as part of the Behind Closed Doors series will shed light on one of Waterford’s most fascinating and historically significant spaces. A look back at the history of Waterford Glass Factory, Broken Glass, a documentary will be screened accompanied with a talk and a Q&A, bringing everyone on a journey looking at Waterford’s most famous export.

Artist Development Workshops and Seminars

silent disco

The Festival is coming out strong in its commitment to nurturing the next generation of artists. With a series of workshops and seminars that provide valuable insights, skills and inspiration for emerging talents, Imagine Arts Festival is making a statement and wants all artists—local and national—to feel supported.

Learn from industry experts and ignite your artistic journey, including a Professional Musicianship workshop with Síomha brought in association with SETU Music Degree, along with a seminar on the world of music promoting and the legality behind the ownership of music.

Resident dancer Sophie Hutchinson will deliver a movement workshop for those aspiring dancers and facilitate a special additional movement workshop for Autism Friendly Waterford, ahead of a special silent disco where attendees will get to show off their moves.

Safe to Create and Safe Gigs will also present during the Festival to look at how we can take ownership of the welfare of our artists and our audiences. Artists will also be offered a wellness afternoon with yoga, meditation and more, together with a networking event to help bring the community together.

The Imagine Arts Festival 2023 Programme embodies their unwavering commitment to inspire creativity, foster community engagement and champion artistic excellence. The Festival brings together artists, performers, and art enthusiasts from around the world, creating a tapestry of diverse and captivating artistic expressions.

Check out the full 2023 Festival schedule here.

Follow Imagine Arts Festival on their socials, for real-time updates and exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpses:

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