Three to see at the Belfast International Arts Festival

David Roy selects three highlights from the programme of the Belfast International Arts Festival, which gets underway next week

Department Story is coming to the Belfast Festival

:: Department Story, October 20 to 31, live at a Royal Avenue location and online

PRESENTED by Big Telly Theatre, Jack Hardiker and Zoe Seaton's Department Story is one of the most intriguing performances on offer at this year's Festival.

A new production for both live audience and online viewers, Department Story is a site-specific interactive production combining flash theatre and physical fiction in a retail-alike environment.

Big Telly promise 'customers' "a killer spree through a department of stories, where everything returned has a tale to tell – a talking toaster, a dress with a past, accessories after the fact. Browse through classic brands like Gogol and Hemmingway or take a punt on our new collection of global writers. Take stock, grab your shopping list and be sure to ask the staff for help."

"Customers have choice but alongside choice comes great responsibility and before long there are decisions to be made. When the in-store shoppers end up with more than they bargained for, their fate lies with those online – but can they deliver?"

Confused? You will be.

Séamas O'Reilly and Lucy Mangan

:: Séamas O'Reilly & Lucy Mangan, October 24 to November 7, online/on demand

AUTHORS Séamas O'Reilly and Lucy Mangan will be recorded in conversation with BBC broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir to discuss their recent publications.

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? is journalist Séamas O'Reilly's hit memoir detailing how he, his 10 siblings and their father survived after Séamas's mother died when he was just five-years-old, all set against the turbulent backdrop of 1990s Northern Ireland.

Lucy Mangan's Are We Having Fun Yet? is Guardian TV critic and acclaimed non-fiction author's debut novel. Inspired by EM Delafield's Diary of a Provincial Lady, Are We Having Fun Yet? examines modern family life, incorporating the madness of parents, friends, bosses and nemeses.

Billy Bragg brings his new album The Million Things That Never Happened to The Ulster Hall on November 2

:: Billy Bragg, November 2, The Ulster Hall

ACCLAIMED singer/songwriter Billy Bragg returns to Belfast's Ulster Hall for his first solo show in the city for a decade.

The gig will come hot on the heels of his forthcoming album The Million Things That Never Happened, due for release on October 29, and as such will afford fans here an early opportunity to see Bragg performing his latest material alongside an arsenal of classics.

Of the new record, he says: "It was always my intention to record a new album in 2021. I'd planned to spend most of 2020 on the road, where I could crank out ideas for new songs. Things didn't quite work out that way, of course.

"The Million Things That Never Happened isn't about the pandemic per se, but the highs and lows of what we've been through provide the backdrop for the album."

:: Tickets and full programme information available via

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access