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What’s on in the Arts

Wednesday 16th December 2020 at 10am 0 Comments Circus & Carnival Arts , Community Arts , Drama , Literature , Northern Ireland Music , Visual Arts

What's on in the Arts Image: What's on in the Arts

As more and more artists and arts organisations from Northern Ireland go digital to connect with audiences at home, the Arts Council has rounded up just some of these fantastic cultural things to do online.  As the arts sector slowly and safely re-opens we have also highlighted some exhibitions and events to enjoy in galleries, all supported by exchequer and National Lottery funding.

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Snow Water: presents, UNDER A CHRISTMAS SKY, from 10th – 24th December, 2020.  Under a Christmas Sky features Northern Ireland’s finest musicians, actors, poetry and story-telling, filmed live at the Ulster Folk Museum. From traditional to contemporary everything you will see and hear has one thing in common. The…magic…of…Christmas!

Snow Water (the creators and curators of Distant Sky and Atlantic Sessions) are bringing you one cultural treat per day from 10th – 24rd December, and on Christmas Eve you can watch our full programme, hosted by BBC’s Joe Lindsay. Each day, an advent door will open online to reveal a delicious film for the viewer. Under a Christmas Sky combines beautiful poetry from the likes of Michael Longley, George Bernard Shaw, Thackeray and Frank Ormsby, with songs by Darlene Love, Joni Mitchell, Bing Crosby as well as traditional carols. But with a twist – all are given new interpretations by some of Northern Ireland’s finest artists! Watch on YouTube at Under a Christmas Sky and Facebook & Instagram: @distantskysw

Ulster Orchestra: has created their own Countdown To Christmas Advent Calendar. Check in at 1pm every day from 1st December to Christmas Eve for a musical gift from them to you!  Visit

Ulster Orchestra will also present an online concert, The Magic of Christmas, on 18th December.  Their Festive extravaganza features their very own Santa – otherwise known as Derry Girls star Ian McElhinney – and features popular local performers Peter Corry and Emma Morwood. We also welcome Cormac Thompson, the 11 year old schoolboy whose videos for his Nannie turned him into an online singing sensation! Their conductor and music arranger for the evening is Paul Campbell and NI Opera's Associate Artists will also be performing.  This wonderful one-hour Christmas show features an array of enchanting carols, festive music and a few little surprises that will make it fun for all the family – get ready to sing along in your living room and enjoy a real Christmas cracker of a night!  Tickets for the concert are priced at £12 per household. This event will be streamed on 18 December at 7pm and will be available to purchase and view until 1 January 2021.  Visit The Magic of Christmas - A Special Online Concert - Ulster Orchestra

NI Opera:  Following the success of their tribute in May to the NHS and key workers ‘At Home for Heroes’, Northern Ireland Opera has curated a festive film with musical contributions from some of Northern Ireland’s best-loved classical musicians.  Contributors include The Priests with Ruth McGinley, Neil Martin, Michael McHale and a chorister from the Belfast Children’s Cathedral Choir plus readings and a performance by Mukesh Sharma and Daniel Perskawiec on harmonium and sitar. NI Opera’s Associate Artists, formed in response to the pandemic to bring opera to the community, will perform with David Corr, winner of the Festival of Voice 2020.  ‘At Home for Christmas’ will also feature readings from journalist Anne Hailes and broadcaster Sean Rafferty, our Patron, who also hosts the film.  Expect to hear favourite carols, readings, a Christmas piano medley, a chorus from ‘Die Fledermaus’, a Sanskrit prayer for peace and some beautiful ‘cello pieces amongst the performances in the film.  ‘At Home for Christmas’ will premiere their YouTube channel on Wednesday 16th December at 8pm.

Live from the Ulster Hall: Live from the Ulster Hall is a new, innovative digital event experience, proudly supported by The Arts Council for Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities through their Organisations Emergency Programme.  For the first concert in the series, the Ulster Hall is delighted to welcome back Ryan McMullan to the iconic stage to perform as part of the new digital entertainment experience.  Ryan McMullan is recognised as one of Northern Ireland’s biggest and brightest talents and is thrilled to be back performing for all his fans who can continue to enjoy his live sessions via this new platform from the safety and comfort of their own home.  Tickets cost £15 and are available at

Irish Traditional Music Archive: is releasing their beautiful Drawing from the Well series on their YouTube channel ITMAVideos - YouTube with some released already which you can view back and a few more to follow on:
16 December 2020
Brían Mac Gloinn
Songs from Arranmore Island

Dun Uladh: has launched, Exploring our Culture, a series of free talks in December on the following dates:
15th Dec –Ian Burrows, RSPBA NI
Plus Saturday 19th December at 8.30pm, Four Men and a Dog online concert.  Visit

National Youth Choir Northern Ireland (NYCNI):  is releasing a series of virtual choir performances each weekend for five weeks on both Facebook and YouTube. These are the final performances from their online courses which took place in October.  View the first release at

Scott’s Jazz Club: Scott's Jazz Club is based at Ballyhackamore Club, 1A Sandown Road. The club was formed by Cormac O'Kane, Colin Harper, Scott Flannigan and Karen Smyth and is a dedicated jazz concert environment featuring amazing sound, lighting and projection mapping.  Keyboard virtuoso, Scott Flannigan, is the club's musical curator and host. The gigs will feature the best of Irish Jazz talent in upcoming performances that will be live streamed online.  Find out more at

Armagh Pipers: The Armagh Pipers present a series of concerts in their Fonn Friday’s Concert Series 2020-21.  Visit

Panarts: Let it Grow, From Seed To Song is a brand new series of music videos recorded by local singer-songwriters with Panarts, the team behind the brilliant Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival.  Follow the Panarts Twitter account to access the songs as they’re released.

Portico of Ards: Exciting news for artists and audiences as the Portico of Ards announces four live music gigs before Christmas. These ‘behind closed doors’ concerts will be broadcast live on YouTube for audiences to enjoy from the safety of their homes.  On Sun 20 Dec local hero and international music sensation, Ryan McMullan, delivers a Christmas ‘Napolean Session’ with a special surprise guest.  The purchase of Portico’s streaming equipment is courtesy of the Arts Council’s Organisations Emergency Programme. Improved stage lighting system has been made possible by the Department for Communities Access and Inclusion Programme. The classical music programme is subsidised by National Lottery Project Funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and Portico is supported by the Arts Service of Ards and North Down Borough Council.  For further information or to buy tickets visit

Northern Ireland Opera: Join some of Northern Ireland’s best known opera singers as they take you to their home county or city and perform a selection of art songs composed by Northern Irish or Irish composers. ‘Northern Songs’ is a set of eight short films showcasing this beautiful country’s stunning locations, landscapes and historic monuments with songs performed by Giselle Allen, Doreen Curran, Carolyn Dobbin and Ben McAteer with pianist, Ruth McGinley.   To hear all songs, visit their YouTube channel at 

Strabane Brass Band: has released a virtual advent calendar to perfectly count our way down to Christmas! At 7pm every evening, a new performance will be released on Facebook featuring members of the band. During the lockdown period, members of the band have been busy recording lots of new music including full band pieces, ensembles, duets and solos.  Don’t forget to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ Strabane Brass Band on Facebook to find your daily festive treat.  Visit

Northern Lights Sessions: return with an evening of timeless Christmas classics from the Swingtime Starlets.  Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Northern Lights programme is set to deliver a musical evening of timeless Christmas classics with the Swingtime Starlets.  The close harmony trio will take to the virtual stage for the free to view performance on Thursday 17th December at 8pm via the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre Facebook Page.  The trio, made up of Orla Mullan, Rosie Barry and Colette Lennon Doug, will perform songs from the Swing, Big Band and golden Hollywood eras.  The special Christmas concert will transport you back to the 40's and 50's with an Andrews Sisters inspired celebration of great music. Dust off your dancing shoes and get ready for a sprinkling of special Starlet Christmas magic, with what is sure to be a cracker of an evening.  For more information visit the Roe Valley Arts Centre Facebook page or go to



Out To Lunch: The 15th annual Out to Lunch Festival returns from 8th-30th January 2021 with a series of shows already announced including Joshua Burnside, Malojian, Jordan Adetunji, Kevin McAleer and Dea Matrona among many others.  For tickets and full programming information visit



New Lodge Arts: New Lodge Arts is very excited to announce the North Belfast Bicycle Parade happening on Thursday 17th & Friday 18th December – departing from Girdwood Community Hub at 6pm!  This moonlight cycle will travel approx 4 miles around North Belfast on beautifully lit up bicycles bringing some Christmas cheer to the area.  They have spaces for people to participate. If interested, please complete the online forms following this link. Bikes/helmets can be provided if need be.  Click here to register for Thursday 17th December or click here to register for Friday 18th December   *please note there are hills on the route!  A full Risk Assessment is in place and all Covid-19 protocols will be in place.

Tumble Circus: presents Winter Circus the movie live watch party on 27th December at 3pm.  Tumble Circus is back with their ever-popular Winter Circus, and this Christmas they are coming to you!  With no big top tent in Writers Square Belfast, this year Tumble Circus are treating you and your family and friends to Winter Circus the Movie, in the comfort of your front room, kitchen, bathroom or anywhere you can get the internet.  Made and filmed in iconic locations around Belfast, Winter Circus the Movie is a new hammer smashing film, with everything you expect from the world class Tumble Circus troupe, and more. 

Directed by award winning maker of circus films Ken Fanning, Winter Circus the Movie will be all human, all skill and all thrill.  Forget what you think you know about circus and experience breathtaking acts, including acrobats, trapeze, and jugglers, and plenty of laughs too, packed into half an hour of revolutionary Belfast inspired circus. With a modern soundtrack, international circus artists and comedy characters that both young and old can enjoy. See for yourself what’s made Tumble Circus an international award-winning modern circus company, from the comfort of your own home. 

Winter Circus the Movie is available to watch from 3pm on Sunday 27th December 2020 on: 

Brassneck Theatre Company and Brassneck Youth present: 'A bELFast Christmas', written & Directed by Tony Devlin and produced by Alison McCrudden.  Starring Keith Singleton, Christina Nelson, Debra Hill and the young performers from Brassneck Youth, the film will be broadcast online in Sunday 20th December at 6pm for broadcast on Youtube and Brassneck/Feile Facebook pages.

Santa has crash landed in the Falls Park on Christmas eve. To avoid further disaster, Mrs Claus sends head elf MistleJoe McJingles to find Santa, fix the sleigh and deliver the last of the presents. There's one problem however... MistleJoe McJingles is a buck eejit. Can MistleJoe team up with the Fairy of the Falls to defeat the Wicked Witch of the West and save Christmas? Find out in Brassneck’s epic festive film.  This project kindly funded by Arts Council NI and Halifax Foundation NI. Thanks also to BCC for use of Falls Park.  Filmed on location in the Falls Park and Priors Scrapyard

Christmas on the Stage Beyond Tree: Stage beyond is an award-winning theatre company for adults with learning disabilities.  This December the company will create a five-part production, Christmas on the Stage Beyond Tree, which will be shared on their Facebook page and on their website.  Visit

Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich:  presents Fleadh Feirste 2020.  There'll be a fantastic mixture of music, drama, discussion and family events taking place virtually across the Gaeltacht Quarter as part of Fleadh Feirste 2020.  To view the full programme visit

Duncairn: has launched a brand new fortnightly arts magazine show called Take 2.  Take 2 explores the uniqueness of our Belfast through music, poetry, imagery, artistry and insightful interviews.  The fortnightly programme airs on alternate Saturday evenings at 8pm on YouTube and Facebook.  You can watch the latest shows back and subscribe to Duncairn’s YouTube channel at

Streetwise: Fancy learning how to juggle and other circus skills?! In response to Covid 19 Streetwise Community Circus has developed a team of tutors who are now working via Zoom to reach out to those who can no longer participate in workshops. Following the latest round of restrictions we are now offering free zoom coaching to anyone who feels isolated or would just like to use the opportunity to learn something new under the guidance of some of Northern Ireland's most experienced circus street entertainers. To take advantage of this opportunity all you have to do is email Streetwise on Suitable for participants who range in age from 8 to 80 plus.

Wheelworks: is back with a jam-packed programme of online arts and craft activities to keep you entertained over the festive period.  Visit

Arts Care: has a wonderful range of arts activities available online on their Arts Care 4U Premium +, their online arts delivery channel that everyone can access.  Visit


Lyric Theatre:  Whilst the doors of this much-loved theatre remain temporarily closed, the magic of the Lyric lives on with not one but four Christmas show to enjoy from the safety and comfort of our homes this festive season.  Families can join the Lyric Online and take a trip to marvelous magical places with Peter Pan: The Musical, Alice: The Musical and Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf from 5th December – 3rd January.  Why not wrap up your family Christmas experience with a bespoke Christmas hamper from the Lyric and local Belfast sweetshop, Aunt Sandra's.

The Listen at The Lyric series gets into the festive spirit with a Christmas special from Conor Grimes and Alan McKee from 8th December – 3rd January. The Nativity…What the Donkey Heard is an audio adaption of their hugely popular 2016 show, The Nativity…What the Donkey Saw.  The Lyric has also inventively created a wonderful range of merchandise to treat yourself or a loved one this Christmas including Christmas cards, tote bags, t-shirts, books and more.  Visit

c21 Theatre Company: one of Northern Ireland’s leading theatre companies, is collaborating with care & nursing homes across the country on a unique project. ‘Through The Glass’ The Reminiscence Project’ creatively interacts with residents stimulating conversations and encouraging them to share stories from their past. A selection of these stories will be developed into theatrical films and shared with residents, councils and online.  The Project features five short theatrical films based around the themes of home, community, school days, work and going out.  To watch, subscribe to their YouTube channel at

Jack and The Beanstalk at the drive-in cinema: Christmas is cancelled! Oh no it isn’t! Cre8 Theatre partnered with Let’s Go Hydro in presenting a family friendly pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, at the drive-in cinema, Belfast featuring the Giant, Jack, Jill, Dame Ms. Pinch, Daisy Cow and more.  This is a colourful, high energy contemporary performance featuring typical pantomime elements; dancing, singing and banter with the audience. As well as the pantomime streamed directly to the big screen, Cre8 have devised a programme of pre and mid show entertainment to truly engage audiences in the safety of their cars.

Enter into festive spirit from the comfort of your own sleigh at this socially distanced Panto. The original rags to riches story with modern Christmassy twist and a sprinkling of Cre8 Theatre magic!  Dates include: 19th, 20th December and includes, panto performance from Cre8 Theatre, REAL actors interacting live at the venue, popcorn, soft drinks, festive cheer!  Book at

VISUAL ARTS - please check each galleries website for details on opening as they are subject to change due to the current Covid-19 regulations.

CCA: in Derry-Londonderry are pleased to welcome you back to CCA with Jan McCullough’s Tricks of the Trade, a solo exhibition that explores spaces of construction through sculptural installation.  The works installed across CCA’s galleries reference elements found in spaces such as workshops, garages, factory floors and sheds – that the artist has encountered and photographed over the last decade.  Read more about the exhibition at CCA Derry~Londonderry | Jan McCullough (

Catalyst Arts: presents Common or Garden
Chris Alton | Jérôme Bel | Bloomers | Emmet Brown | Victoria Brunetta & Kate O’Shea (Durty Books) | Just Books | Aidan Wall | Fiona Woods
Catalyst Arts Gallery, 5 College Court, Belfast, BT16BS
Opening: Friday 11 December, 12-8pm

Common or Garden uses the gallery as a space to propose and foster approaches based on the model of the commons in which resources, ideas and knowledge are shared and distributed democratically. By exploring processes of exchange, collaboration and learning, it asks: can we build practices rooted in collectivity?

The exhibition will include works by Chris Alton, Jérôme Bel, Emmet Brown and Aidan Wall. It will also host a zine library, curated by Bloomers, and The Library of Common Knowledge, featuring books donated through an open call which will be open for visitors to use and share throughout.

The associated programme includes contributions from Chris Alton, Bloomers, Victoria Brunetta & Kate O’Shea (Durty Books), Just Books and Fiona Woods and facilitates discussions on topics such as self-publishing, activism, commonist aesthetics and DIY culture.  See for more details of upcoming talks and events. 

VOID:  It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at VOID with three online workshops for kids with artist facilitators, Karen Cassidy, Sinead Crumlish, Zoe McSparron.  Sinead Crumlish will show you how to make your own air drying clay so that you can make your own Christmas decorations, Karen Cassidy has your Christmas cards sorted with her workshop on Watercolour Christmas Cards and join Zoe McSparron to make a Swirling paper plate Christmas Tree that you can hang in your window. For full details, see their website or stay tuned on social media. Workshops will be posted to VOID’s website, Facebook videos, and Instagram IGTV at 11am on each Saturday at Christmas.  Visit

Golden Thread Gallery: presents WHAT AL-NADEEM KNEW – Outburst Arts Festival at the GTG from Friday 27th November until Friday 18th December
All Day.  Golden Thread Gallery is delighted to welcome Outburst Arts Festival back to the gallery with a remarkable video and multimedia installation.  ‘What al-Nadeem Knew‘ is a multimedia storytelling project that uses collective memory and official and non-official records to unearth different meanings to the current political and economic predicament of Egypt.  Examining the symbolism of music and its performance, specifically that of iconic Egyptian singer and film actress, Um Kalthoum, as being an essential part of the regime propaganda, the installation tries to reconstruct alternative stories about the past, while opening different possibilities to reimagine the future.
Concept: Ismail Fayed
Music/Sound Conception/Dramaturgy: Adham Hafez
Video/Visual Score: Mohammad Shawky Hassan

In order to keep all visitors and staff safe, and follow government guidelines,  GTG is asking all visitors to book their visit in advance by emailing

Belfast Exposed: As part of the Belfast Photo Festival, Belfast Exposed is delighted to launch ‘Street View’ - a digital gallery space of curated exhibitions to increase the accessibility and visibility of photography on the streets of Belfast. Street View is an initiative, which provides a multimedia exhibition experience, in response to the restrictions put in place due to covid-19 that prevent people from visiting galleries and viewing exhibitions. 

Street View is a large digital window display that will showcase artwork by internationally renowned and local emerging photographers. Street View will launch with the work of Jill Quigley, followed by the work of Noel Bowler, Matthew Finn and Daragh McDonagh, among many others. Street View is a 55” high brightness professional screen that provides a platform to exhibit contemporary photography complimented with audio narratives to an external audience on the streets of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.

Jill Quigley’s work will be supported by audio of actor Monique Kelly who will describe Jill’s artwork and practice. Belfast Exposed believe photography is for everyone, it is accessible, meaningful and has the ability to tell stories, allowing us to create dialogue and reflect upon our history, inform our present and inspire a positive future. Street View is another opportunity to extend our vision beyond the confines of the gallery.  For details visit

139th RUA (Royal Ulster Academy) Exhibition: opened at the Ulster Museum as part of this year’s Belfast International Arts Festival on 16th October but has had to temporarily close due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.  The exhibition can still be viewed online, continuing until 3rd January 2021 and is not to be missed!  The exhibition contains approximately 250 examples of painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video etc. This year there were almost 1,300 entries of which 190 were ultimately selected for inclusion. Some of the works reflect the times we are living in and allude to isolation, social distancing and surviving in Covid times.  Other works share deep messages with hope, humour, passion and integrity.  To view the exhibition online visit

Millennium Court Arts Centre: in Portadown, is showing their current exhibition" NO TIME" by Martin Boyle online.  Visit

Craft NI: remains open to the public presenting regular exhibitions of the work of craft makers from around Northern Ireland and also a gallery retail space where you can buy from local craft makers.  The new exhibition is called, Pinned, and it is an exhibition of the Association of Contemporary Jewellers and Silversmiths in Northern Ireland.  Pinned presents the work of 23 local jewellers and silversmiths who have each responded to the exhibition’s theme to produce one-of-a-kind pieces beyond the scope of their usual commission or production work. 

Participating makers include Anne Earls Boylan, Stuart Cairns, Robyn Galway and Celine Traynor and the exhibition features over 50 variations on the idea of a brooch, with versions in both precious and non-precious materials. Traditionally set stones contrast with re-purposed vintage tins and toys, precision geometry meets abstract forms. Gold, silver and gemstones sit alongside found objects in unexpected interpretations that demonstrate technical accomplishment, innovation and creativity.  The exhibition opened on 4th November and continues until 2nd January 2021.  Craft NI is located at 115-119 Royal Avenue, Belfast.  Visit

The MAC: In line with the restrictions announced by the NI Executive, the MAC is planning to reopen their galleries and cafe with new exhibitions across all three galleries - Peter Liversidge, In a Rainbow of Coalitions and Frederic Huska.  They also have a series of movies at Christmas showing in the venue and a range of online activities.  Visit for updates. 

R-Space: in Lisburn present a rescheduled exhibition, Obvious, which runs until 11 December 2020 at R-Space Gallery (32 Castle Street, Lisburn).  Six artists based in Northern Ireland (Aimée Nelson, Aoife O’Connor, Gary Shaw, Jill Phillips, Mr. Papers and Pauline Clancy) have been selected from an open call as part of R-Space’s Materials, Messages and Meaning series.  Now in its eighth year, these exhibitions explore artists’ different approaches to materials, methods of production and messages within their work.  This year R-Space has selected artists who have responded to the theme ‘Obvious’, and the works include interactive screen printing, mixed media installations, digital imaging, and folk art.  Visit for full details on opening times.

An Cultúrlann: as part of their 30th anniversary celebration programme of events for 2021, An Cultúrlann presents an exhibition of a selection of the artwork bought by An Chultúrlann or donated to them over the years.  Paintings, drawings and prints are on display in Dánlann Dillon, the gallery on the first floor that was added to the building in 2011. Although COVID-19 restrictions mean the public can’t access the gallery for now, you can still have a look at the amazing artwork in this beautiful video put together by Gráinne Holland and Frainc Mac Cionnaith

Belfast Print Workshop: Belfast Print Workshop has created an in-house gallery space for members to exhibit their work and an online shop.  For full details visit


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