12 Aug 2022

Waterford's Imagine Arts Festival hailed a huge success

10 days of celebrating the arts have been enjoyed by thousands of festivalgoers in Waterford as the 17th annual Imagine Arts Festival comes to a close.

The hugely successful 2018 festival ended on a musical note as the final gig of the festival saw thousands enjoy a music trail at venues across the city and county.

This year's festival featured a programme filled with a variety of over 130 events with just over 60 of these on offer to the public free of charge.

Festival Co-ordinator Ollie Breslin says, "Imagine 2018 has been a great eleven days, with new events, large public participation events and a brand new festival manager; all of these have contributed to what has been a hugely successful festival year. Nora Boland our new festival manager really helped to pull together the threads to tie up what has been a fantastic programme of over 130 events."

"This is a festival of three festivals in one, The John Dwyer Trad Weekend curated by Edel Fox and Neil Byrne, the Waterford Writers Weekend curated by Rick O’Shea and our own Imagine Arts events which we organize and host, Nora took charge of ensuring a varied and diverse programme plus the not so small feat of organizing the logistics and we feel it has been a real win for the festival.”

The festival ensured the City was alive with colour and imagination over the last 10 days, with festivities getting off to a very lively start with the annual John Dwyer Trad weekend which featured workshops, sessions, album launches and concerts which feature some of the best traditional musicians from all across the country including a reunion of the famous ‘Castle Ceili Band’ from the early ‘60’s which featured Seán and James Keane.

The Waterford Writers Weekend ensured the city was swarming with literary talent as events saw full houses right across the weekend, this mini-festival was curated by broadcaster Rick O'Shea and he ensured literary talent from right across the country was staged in Waterford. From readings to author interviews to book launches and even a ‘What a complete Aisling’table quiz hosted by the book’s authors to Lit panels, children’s readings, a silent reading party, poetry events and writing workshops the weekend offers a variety of over 20 unique events, and included an interview with two of Ireland’s best-selling authors, Cecelia Ahern and John Boyne together which was one of a number of rare literary events.

Art was front and centre for the festival with exhibitions on offer across the city and county and a full artistic trail featuring a variety of artists. Highlights included an exhibition dedicated to the life and works of the late great American Artist and Waterford resident Ernest Ruckle.

For families and young festivalgoers, there was puppet-making workshops, children’s book readings and much more. Of course, Waterford's biggest ever flour fight BLAAMAGEDDON went down a riot at the Apple Market on Sunday, October 28th as blaa-ttlers gathered and picked up their ‘weapon’ for a display unseen before featuring tonnes of flour, now dubbed the ‘gentlest battle of all time’.

The Horribly Historic Trails through in the depths of the medieval alleys and streets of Waterford City also went down a treat as did Spraoi’s ‘Wicked Woods’ at Carriganore Wood on Waterford’s Greenway as an imaginative seasonal world was a spectacle to behold with light, sound, effects and magical creatures.

Theatre productions and dance performances were aplenty with showcases at Garter Lane, The Theatre Royal and more.   Ensuring that Waterford's Imagine Arts Festival was ‘rockin' top international music acts Stomptown Brass, Seamus Fogarty, Bird of Burden, Eric Sweeney, Amatis and many more entertained the masses.

Two new albums were launched at the 2018 Imagine Arts Festival, Eric Sweeney launched Bright Seraphin, a CD of his organ music as part of Imagine played on the magnificent Kenneth Jones organ at Christ Church Cathedral. And Birds of Burden launched "A conspiracy of dust" with sounds ranging from driving high tempo rock to meandering hypnotic airs which interlace to frame a highly personal, almost diary-like lyrical content, firmly anchored in the folk ballad tradition. 

Imagine Arts Festival also paid tribute to one of Ireland’s greatest filmmakers George Morrison. Born in Tramore, Co Waterford, in 1922, Mr Morrison is widely recognised for his filmmaking during the 1950s and 1960s, a period in which he made Mise Éire (1959) – the first feature-length Irish language film – and Saoirse? (1961), which together tell the story of Ireland’s revolutionary period from the late 19th century through to the Civil War. George was honoured with a Mayoral Reception in his hometown of Tramore at the Coastguard Cultural Centre. The reception was followed by a screening of three films including ‘ These Stones Remain’ at Garter Lane Theatre.

Taking the 2018 festival to a close Ollie Breslin said, "On behalf of the Imagine Festival committee I would like to thank all the performers, technicians, writers, artists and curators along with everyone who worked really hard behind the scenes for all of their help in putting this festival together and making it a success. It is fantastic to see our festival grow each year and for local talent to be showcased alongside international acts annually."

For further details on the Imagine Arts Festival 2018 and the artists who took part see www.

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