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Out to Lunch | Belfast’s Bespoke Boutique Winter Festival

Much loved Belfast arts festival Out to Lunch is returning from January 3 – 26 this month.

Celebrating its 15th year, the event is specially designed to banish post-holiday blues throughout the longest, darkest month of the year. Thanks to Out to Lunch, January will be illuminated with a dizzying dose of comedy, film, hot food, literature, live music, spoken word and theatre.

Musical highlights from the lovingly crafted programme include the likes of Badly Drawn Boy (pictured), Dea Matrona, DJ Yoda, Deven Green & Ned Douglas, Jacqui Dankworth, Jane Weaver, Jonah Tolchin, Martin Stephenson and the Daintees, Nine Below Zero, Portico Quartet, Seth Lakeman, The Utopia Strong featuring Steve Davis, The 4 of Us, The Darkling Air, Turin Brakes and Xylouris White.

There’s also a DJ set from The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess, Something about Simon – an event honouring Paul Simon, a tribute to Julie Andrews, an evening of stories and songs with Oscar and Grammy winner Ryan Bingham, Glasshouse classical ensemble reinterpreting Bowie’s Berlin trilogy, a musical lunch-time hour with the NI Opera Studio and a performance from the Ulster Orchestra.

In terms of comedy, there’s top entertainment from the likes of Abandonman, Cassetteboy, Craig Hill, Eleanor Conway, Emer Maguire, Gary Delaney, Ian Saville and The Delightful Sausage and Joanna Neary + Paul Currie.

Crime fiction’s undisputed supremo Val McDermid will also be attending Out to Lunch, as is acclaimed Chocolat author Joanne Harris. Meanwhile, Cerys Matthews will be in town to discuss her new book Where the Wold Cooks Go.

Moreover, there will be an afternoon of the best Irish poetry from Stephen Sexton and Leontia Flynn. Also, 15-year-old autistic naturalist, activist and writer Dara McAnulty will be in conversation with Marie-Louise Muir.

Out to Lunch’s cinema season, meanwhile, will be focused this year on the topic of pioneers. It will feature a stop-motion animation workshop and screening of classic Jason and the Argonauts, both in celebration of trailblazing visual effects creator Ray Harryhausen.

To celebrate marriage equality in Northern Ireland, the festival will also be showing the little seen film adaptation of E.M. Forster’s powerful (and unpublished int his lifetime) gay love story Maurice. Made in 1984 and starring a young Hugh Grant, the movie is directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker James Ivory.

There’s also plenty of documentaries geared towards music lovers. Inna Da Yard follows some of reggae’s most seminal musicians. Meanwhile, The Heart is a Drum is centred on the enigmatic brilliant Klaus Dinger, the genius behind krautrock legends Neu! and La Düsseldorf.

The Sound of My Voice traces the story of the remarkable iconic Linda Ronstadt, as The Vinyl Revival explores the renaissance in all things vinyl.

Other Out to Lunch treats include a lecture on how to drink beer (beginners welcome!), as well as Speci/men by Davy and Kristin McGuire. The latter is a sprawling, ambitious exhibition of pocket-sized people in a witty anthropological study of the human species, presented by University of Ulster.

Speaking about this year’s line-up, festival director Sean Kelly said in a statement: “The 15th Out to Lunch Festival is a landmark we’re determined to celebrate in style. In the current social and political gloom, we hope we can offer a shaft of light for people throughout the longest, darkest month of the year.” 

“I’m hugely proud of this programme, it’s loaded with all the usual Out to Lunch goodness, but with a little extra zing on the side. We’ll be standing by in January to help revive post-holiday spirits and break you into 2020 ever so gently! See you at Out to Lunch!” 

Tickets and information can be found at www.cqaf.com.

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