Arts Council of Northern Ireland

The Funding and Development Agency
for The Arts in Northern Ireland

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Gift someone you love an arts experience this Christmas

Thursday 16th December 2021 at 9am 0 Comments

From music, books, craft and original art, to vouchers to a great play or concert, why not gift someone you love an arts experience this Christmas. With the time to use your Spend Local card now extended until midnight 19 December, it couldn’t be easier to support local artists and venues over the next few months.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, “There are many ways to support artists and venues across Northern Ireland this Christmas. Why not download the latest record from your favourite NI musician; pop into your local gallery or craft shop to find that special, memorable gift; buy tickets and have a great night out at a panto or concert or support our home-grown authors by buying their books at a neighbourhood bookshop. There’s much to choose from and I would encourage everyone to spend local this festive season.”

Buy a dream art work

Own Art is an interest free loan scheme, supported by the Arts Council, which makes buying a piece of art easier and more affordable by spreading the cost over 10 months. Spoil your loved one and choose from jewellery, ceramics, paintings, original prints and objet d’art. Participating galleries include Gormleys, ArtisAnn Gallery, Craft NI Gallery and Steensons. The ArtisAnn annual Christmas show is now on with all artworks priced £300 or less with a wider range at various prices available in the main gallery space, all available through Own Art. For more information visit

Belfast Print Workshop will have their 2021 Members Christmas Show Exhibition running until 7 January with works to purchase in person and online. This exhibition is open for visitors to view safely under their COVID-19 safety guidelines. To view the prints on offer visit

Buy a new musical instrument

Own that musical instrument of your dreams with Take It Away. Similar to Own Art, the Take It Away scheme, supported by the Arts Council, offers the opportunity to purchase a musical instrument, equipment or software, with an interest free loan repaid over 10 months. See for more information on participating stores in Northern Ireland.

Books galore

Books always make a great gift at Christmas. Here are some offerings from Northern Ireland authors:

‘The Last Resort’ by Jan Carson. A collection of linked short stories that also aired on BBC Radio 4. (Keep an eye out for her novel The Rapture coming soon). £9.99 available from No Alibis Bookstore and all good book shops.

‘Intimacies’ by Lucy Caldwell. A stunning collection of stories from one of our best writers. A story from the collection recently won the BBC National Short Story Award. £8.99 available from No Alibis Bookstore and all good book shops.

Get crafty

Craft NI on Belfast’s Royal Avenue is a place where you can buy handmade work by some of NI’s most talented designer-makers. Whether you feel like treating yourself or others, there is so much to choose from! You can pick up a unique gift while knowing you have supported a local you have supported a local creative business and a local maker. And for bigger or really special pieces, Craft NI Gallery is now part of the Arts Council’s Own Art scheme, increasing accessibility to beautiful contemporary craft. Visit

It’s showtime!

Give the gift of theatre or gig tickets. The MAC, Portico, Lyric Theatre, Ulster Orchestra, Grand Opera House, Millennium Forum and The Playhouse all have fantastic shows coming up in 2022. If you’re unsure what tickets to buy, simply pick up a voucher!

Portico of Ards
Lyric Theatre
Ulster Orchestra
Grand Opera House
Millennium Forum
The Playhouse

The 17th edition of the Out to Lunch Festival returns from 8-30 January 2022 with a packed programme of music, comedy, talks and drama. A highlights includes one of Northern Ireland’s much loved folk artists Ciara O’Neill who launches her new EP ‘La Lune’ at the festival on 22nd January in the Sunflower Bar. Written during a creulsterative period whilst working frontline in the NHS throughout the pandemic ‘La Lune’ takes you on a journey through the moonlit streets of Paris to the sunny shores of Saint-Tropez. Also on the line-up is singer-songwriter Brigid O’Neill, classical contemporary pianist, Ruth McGinley, Norman Jay, Robin Ince, Lucy Porter plus much more. For the full programme and tickets visit

Music from Northern Ireland

The NI Music Prize, organised by the Oh Yeah Centre, was held in November and was a chance to celebrate and highlight the huge amount of talent that released new music in 2021. The overall winner of Best Album of 2021 went to Saint Sister for the album, ‘Where I Should End’ and Dea Matrona picked up Best Single and ATL Introducing Contender. To find out more and purchase albums visit

Local band, The Deadlifts, have released an upbeat, feel good Christmas-inspired single, Christmas Trees, to help raise funds for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice. The band is encouraging everyone to join in and support this worthy cause by downloading their single this festival season. The perfect addition to any Christmas holiday playlist, Christmas Trees can be downloaded at Bandcamp here

Get snappy with Belfast Exposed

Belfast Exposed has over 35 years of experience delivering photography courses to the general public. Their training courses enable participants to learn and develop new skills in photography. They provide photography courses in Digital Photography, Film Photography, Post-Production, Printing & Presenting and Traditional Processes. Belfast Exposed gift vouchers can also be purchased for any value of your choice and can be used towards courses, books, journals and magazines as well as photographic prints and postcards. Visit for details

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