Cultural prescription for the January blues

Writer Bernard MacLaverty
Writer Bernard MacLaverty

The Out to Lunch Arts Festival returns from January 5 to 28, bringing much badly needed cultural bite to the longest, darkest month of the year.

Now in its 13th year, the boutique Out to Lunch serves up a Brexit-proof feast of music, comedy, spoken word and theatre with a mix of familiar favourites and fresh talent.

Out to Lunch director Sean Kelly said: “Brexit may have put paid to our European Capital of Culture ambitions but the Out to Lunch ethos remains unchanged - to make Belfast feel like a truly European city with a vibrant, year-round cultural life.

“From major writers such as Jonathan Meades and Bernard MacLaverty through to poetry, comedy, film and music from across the globe, Out to Lunch offers sustenance for the mind and body during January, always the darkest month.

“For £7, we’re offering audiences a tasty lunch and a world-class show - a tidy little deal we’re particularly proud of! People should move quickly though, the ‘sold-out’ signs are going up already on shows we’ve announced.”

The Out to Lunch music line-up includes folk legend Shirley Collins and the acclaimed psychedelic twosome Moon Duo, Kraftwerk’s Wolfgang Flür, The Story of Carole King & James Taylor, Terri Hooley, Dave Arcari, electronic jazz wizards GoGo Penguin and a plethora of other top-notch acts.

The spoken word and literature programme boasts one of the great Irish men of letters, Bernard MacLaverty, hi-priestess of rhyme Hollie McNish, Tony Walsh, the storytelling phenomenon that is Jonathan Meades and post-punk heroine Cosey Fanni Tutti.

A bumper comedy line-up will feature Andrew Maxwell, Fern Brady, acclaimed stand-up Dave Johns, impressionist Jan Ravens, Iain Lee, Robin Ince, Joanne McNally, Adam Kay and Alison Spittle.

To view the full programme or to book tickets visit