Out to Lunch, the bespoke, boutique Belfast Arts Festival runs until January 31 for an 11th helping of what you fancy.

A mouth-watering menu of live music, comedy, spoken word, literature and theatre (and food) will be served up during the lunchtimes and evenings of January to sustain fun lovers and festival goers in the dreaded post-holiday lull.

Out to Lunch 2016 boasts a programme bursting with corn-fed entertainment and eclecticism. Here’s our top 10 picks…

1. Villagers

The MAC, Tuesday January 26, 8pm


Where Have You Been All My Life? is Conor O’Brien’s third album under the guise of Villagers. It’s a more a more pared-back, intimate journey compared to the multi-faceted arrangements of Becoming A Jackal (2010) and Awayland (2013). This fresh approach was extended on subsequent Villagers tours, where old songs were reinvented to match the new.

Conor and the band are regular visitors to Belfast and this sure to be sold out show should be top of your must-see list for January.

2. The Strypes

The Black Box, Friday January 29, 8pm


The Strypes played their first Belfast show in Out to Lunch three years ago and have since played some of the world’s biggest stages.

New album Little Victories is a ferocious 21st century rock and roll hybrid, as much informed by present day artists such as the Arctic Monkeys as it is by previous influences like Bo Diddly and Wilko Johnson.

3. Isy Suttie

The Black Box, Sunday January 31, 3pm


The Actual One is Isy Suttie’s brilliantly funny new show about that moment in your late 20’s when you suddenly realize that all your mates are growing up without you.

Isy Suttie is an award winning comedian, writer, songwriter and actress. Her TV acting credits include Peep Show, Shameless and Skins. She regularly performs to live audiences and on radio, including her Sony Award winning BBC Radio 4 series Isy Suttie’s Love Letters, and has been nominated for a British Comedy Award three times. Isy has written for Red Glamour, The Guardian and The Observer.

4. The 2 Bears

The Black Box, Saturday January 16, 9pm


After meeting in the DJ booths of London, Raphael ‘Raf Daddy’ Rundell and Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard bonded over a love of house music.

They duo have bounced from Brixton to Tel Aviv via Cape Town since, sharing the decks and delivering a memorable blend of house, techno, ragga and more to almost every continent. This sound resulted in the bold dancefloor-centric shapes of their second album ‘The Night Is Young’, released last year.

5. Sean Hughes

The Black Box, Sunday January 31, 8pm


Multi award winning comedian Sean Hughes is back with a new show called Mumbo Jumbo. Throughout his life he has been battling to stay on the right side of sanity. This is because in middle age he has realised that the two sides of his brain are in constant conflict. There is common sense against mumbo jumbo and mumbo jumbo seems to have the upper hand.

The show consists of stories including being serenaded at the break of dawn by Robert Smith, trekking mountain gorillas in Rwanda and coming to the conclusion that he will never have a proper conversation with his dear mum.  There will be a few poems and a 3-minute musical about ageing too.

6. Belfast Food Tours vs Seedhead Street Art Walking Tour

The Dark Horse, Sunday January 17, 12noon


 Two of Belfast’s finest walking tours (one well established, one brand new) have combined to take you on a unique trip around the Cathedral Quarter, stopping at four of our finest eateries, and passing by some spectacular works of art on the way.

Find out about Belfast’s thriving street art scene, and learn the story behind some of the most eye catching work, then warm up and fill up with some excellent eats and drinks.

7. East India Youth

The Black Box, Friday January 22, 9pm


Over the last year, London-based East India Youth has combined strikingly original music with euphoric live performances and has quickly become recognised as one of the most experimental and captivating artists around.

His recently released second album titled Culture of Volume is his first since signing to XL Recordings and follows last year’s critically acclaimed debut album Total Strife Forever went on to be nominated for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize.

8. Girls Names

The Dockers Club, Friday January 29, 8pm


Girls Names came together as two-piece back in the summer of 2010, but over the course of a handful of EPs and three very different albums, they’ve grown in number and ambition.

Their last album, The New Life, was an unexpected underground hit in early 2013, taking the band around the world and garnering much critical praise, culminating in nominations for both the Northern Irish and Irish Music Prizes.

9. Ciaran Lavery & Emily Barker

The Black Box, Sunday January 10, 2pm


Emily Barker is the award-winning songwriter and performer of the theme to BBC TV’s Wallander starring Kenneth Branagh. Her music is a blend of roots influences from country to English folk via 60s pop.

Ciaran Lavery was the CQAF artist in residence in 2015, since then he has went on to play at Glastonbury, Cambridge Folk Festival, tour the UK and Germany whilst racking up millions of plays on Spotify as he goes.

10. NI Opera

The Black Box, Wednesday January 13, 1pm


Opera is the art form that famously combines exciting stories with big spectacle and great music. As Northern Ireland Opera prepares to revive its critically acclaimed production of Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, join members of their Young Artists’ Programme as they perform from operas based on novels.

Sopranos Gabrielle Mulcahy and Rebecca Rodgers, mezzo-soprano Laura McFall and tenor David Lynn will perform arias from operas including Werther and Carmen with pianist Gail Evans – a novel way to spend lunchtime!

11. Francesca Martinez

The Black Box, Thursday January 21, 1pm


What happens when you’re branded ‘abnormal’, in a world obsessed with normality? This show is Francesca’s defiant, insightful and fascinating answer.

Intrigued by the power that a six-letter word has over so many people, Francesca shares her own life-changing journey of growing up as ‘abnormal’, being rescued from High-School-Hell by Grange Hill, letting Ricky Gervais take the piss out of her walk in Extras and working out what to say to the BBC after being offered the role of a, ahem, vegetable.

12. Lance

The Black Box, Tuesday January 12, 1pm & 8pm


In 2003 Lance Armstrong won his 5th Tour de France title, and a young boy in West Yorkshire believed in him. Now a character comedian, he (the boy) comes to London with a heartfelt and hilarious story of growing up, betrayal by professional athletes, and redemption.

Written by and starring Kieran Hodgson (Siblings, Count Arthur Strong, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa), Lance was nominated for Best Show at the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2015.

Tickets for all the remaining shows are available here

Please note – some of the shows may have sold out since this article was first published

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