Arty lunchtimes to cure January blues

Toast the magician and Caroline Wilson from Belfast Food Tours launch the OTL programme
Toast the magician and Caroline Wilson from Belfast Food Tours launch the OTL programme

Out to Lunch, the January Belfast arts festival that offers a vital menu of music, comedy, literary events and theatre just as the blues are starting to encroach returns to lift us out of that post-holiday lull.

Running January 8-31 for its 11th year, the line-up will see performances from Villagers, The 2 Bears, folk legend Dick Gaughan, Grammy-winner Patty Griffin, Mercury-Prize nominees East India Youth and Belfast’s newest post-punk pioneers Girls Names.

There will be opera at lunchtime, a musical adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, soul classics and jazz standards from Dana Masters, comedy from Kieran Hodgson, Sarah Kendall, Francesca Martinez, Luisa Omielan, Peep Show’s Isy Suttie, Sean Hughes and Sam Wills (the latter involving stand-up with no talking), a storytelling evening where each participant has ten minutes to tell a story about their own lives, and a 70-minute comedic stroll through James Joyce’s Ulysses by Robert Gogan.

Canadian singer Lindi Ortega and the award-winning Hazel O’Connor will perform while Irish Times columnist Roisin Ingle, famed for her public displays of emotion in her boldly confessional writing, will read from her new book at the Black Box. Salsa band Havana ‘Che will be in town and you can enjoy a secret cabaret somewhere in the Cathedral Quarter (with the locale only revealed on the night).

High energy poet and songwriter Attila the Stockbroker will grab listeners by their conscience with politically astute verses 
and one woman drama My Name is Saoirse explores a teen pregnancy dilemma in conservatively Catholic 

Seedhead Arts bring four multi-talented magicians to the Black Box to mesmerise audiences, there will be a drink and draw event suitable for all ages, a screening of anime film Princess Mononoke and a tour of the Cathedral Quarter taking in top dining spots and street art, plus you can head off on A Wine Goose Chase involving free wine tasting or get dancing at the Black Moon Shakedown in this highly imaginative programme.

Festival director Sean Kelly said: “Recent funding uncertainties have left the arts sector somewhat punch-drunk and anxious so we take pride in the fact that 11 years on, Out to Lunch shows no signs of lying down or diluting what we do. In fact, despite the many current difficulties we might just have pulled off the best Out to Lunch yet. For many, it’s the only show in town in January.”

The 11thAnnual Out to Lunch Festival 2016, January 8-31.

Visit to view the full line-up or book tickets.