Mouthwatering line-up announced for Out to Lunch this January

The Belfast arts festival needn't worry about any superstitions hanging over its 13th instalment with this sumptuous offering

Psychedelic two-piece Moon Duo

Billed as 'the festival that always comes first', Northern Ireland's cultural calendar for 2018 will kick off in earnest when Out to Lunch returns to Belfast from January 5 to 28.

Now in its 13th year, the boutique arts festival promises to bring 'badly needed cultural bite to the longest, darkest month of the year' with a 'Brexit-proof feast of music, comedy, spoken word and theatre with a thrilling mix of familiar favourites and fresh talent', pointing to to the recent announcement by the European Commission that UK cities can no longer compete for European Capital of Culture 2023.

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.

Dave Johns

Dave Johns, star of I, Daniel Blake will be performing as part of the festival's comedy strand

'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.'

As with its sister event the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, music plays a huge part in Out to Lunch. This year includes folk legend Shirley Collins, acclaimed psychedelic twosome Moon Duo, Kraftwerk’s Wolfgang Flür, the heady afro-electronic swirl of Ibibio Sound Machine, Hazel O’Connor and Cormac De Barra, Yola Carter, The Music of Cat Stevens/Yusuf, The 4 of Us, The Oh Hellos, The Story of Carole King and James Taylor, The Iconettes and the icon Terri Hooley, Dave Arcari, Opera for Lunch, Lau, GoGo Penguin, Booka Brass Ban plus DJ Yoda’s 'Stranger Things Mixtape'.

Bernard MacLaverty Main

Earlier this year Bernard McLaverty told Culture NI 'You have to live your life before you can write about it'.

The spoken word and literature programme meanwhile boasts revered names from Bernard MacLaverty to Hollie McNish and Tony Walsh. Storytelling phenomenin tenx9 also features, as does pop-cultural heavyweight Jonathan Meades and post-punk heroine Cosey Fanni Tutti, formerly of Throbbing Gristle, reading from her hugely acclaimed memoir Art, Sex, Music.

A bumper comedy line-up features festival favourite Andrew Maxwell, the deliciously-scathing Fern Brady, I, Daniel Blake star and acclaimed stand-up Dave Johns, impressionists’ impressionist Jan Ravens, Iain Lee doing his much-loved Rabbit Hole Podcast live, plus Robin Ince, Joanne McNally, Adam Kay and the unforgettable Alison Spittle.

As its organisers put it, Out to Lunch 'is the only prescription in town to beat those post-holiday January blues'. For the full programme and ticket booking go to www.cqaf.com.