Out to Lunch Sets the Menu for 2016

The bespoke Belfast arts festival is back to lift spirits in the New Year with three weeks of cultural nourishment

Out to Lunch, the bespoke, boutique Belfast arts festival returns from January 8 - 31 for an eleventh helping of whatever fun lovers and festival goers fancy in the dreaded post-holiday lull.

Throughout the month a mouth-watering menu of live music, comedy, spoken word, literature,theatr and, of course, food, will be served up during the lunchtimes and evenings in various venues around the city.

This year's programme is bursting with corn-fed entertainment and eclecticism, including a musical line-up featuring gems like Villagers, The 2 Bears and folk legend Dick Gaughan. There's also Grammy Award-winner Patty Griffin, Mercury Prize-nominated East India Youth and Belfast’s own post-punk pioneers Girls Names in addition to Beardyman, former Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival artist-in-residence Ciaran Lavery and Emily Barker.

Meanwhile James Yorkston, Withered Hand and The Pictish Trail make up The Song Writing Circle Tour, Nouvelle Vague’s Marc Collin presents BRISTOL: Re-Inventing 90’s Trip-Hop as a 60’s Movie Soundtrack and Matthew E White makes his Belfast debut as well as Hazel O’Connor, Lindi Ortega, The Strypes, Jim 'The King' Brown and NI Opera making returns to the Out to Lunch fold.

The comedy programme includes Sarah Kendall, Francesca Martinez, Sean Hughes, The Boy with Tape on his Face and Isy Suttie, reading from her new book and fresh from the success of the last ever series of Peep ShowHot on the high heels of her last Edinburgh smash What Would Beyoncé Do, festival favourite Luisa Omeilan returns with her acclaimed follow-up Am I Right Ladies?

The Black Box boards will be trod to a thread, with theatrical highlights including Steinbeck’s Of Mice and MenLance - the acclaimed one-man rumination on the cyclist; Strolling Through Ulysses, the hilarious, heartbreaking My Name is Saoirse; A Wine Goose Chase – with free wine-tasting of course, and a unique retelling of Kafka’s Metamorphosis featuring music from Colin Reid (of Third Policeman fame) plus visuals by comic artist Debbie McCormack.

There is spoken word, serious thinking and a few surprises in store from Attila the Stockbroker, Irish Times columnist Roisin Ingle holding forth on Public Displays of Emotion, the Tenx9 storytellers who present an evening of tales around the theme of food and Secret Cabaret, which returns to a top secret locale near you and Black Moon Shakedown by those number one performers in the Gallop Poll – Ponydance.

This year OTL also offers family-sized bites with All Ages Out to Lunch – a programme of events curated by Seedhead Arts, including Sketchy, (not-so) Mid Week Magic and Belfast Food Tours vs Seedhead Street Art Walking Tour.

Out to Lunch 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 – low ticket prices, exceptionally high quality.

'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 and we still really enjoy the challenge of putting it all together.'

Gluten free, protein rich and bursting with vitamins, Out to Lunch 2016 has something for everyone, and then some. Find out more and book tickets at www.cqaf.com/outtolunch/2016/.