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Out To Lunch Festival: Second course is as fulfilling as the starter ... so tuck in your bib and prepare for rest of feast

By GRANIA McFADDEN

We're halfway through this year's Out To Lunch festival. Time to take stock of what's been, what's yet to come and (whisper it) what we haven't seen.

This year's festival was dealt an early blow with the news that Julian Cope had decided against visiting the Cathedral Quarter for "security reasons".

Perhaps he was worried he'd be mobbed by fans? Truth is, we didn't really miss him.

Barry Cryer was taken ill – and knocked for six by the death of his dear friend Simon Hoggart, so we'll excuse his absence.

Word is he's desperate to come over, and may well be rescheduling for later this spring as I write.

The much-loved Issy Suttie landed a show in the West End. We got Mark Steel instead. So whose loss was that?

Small beer in the great scheme of Out To Lunch.

And there's still plenty to see. Coming up: funny woman Nat Luurtsema's first solo show in three years; some great sounds from The Beatelles, Son Yambu and Kevin Doherty.

Jacqui Dankworth will be filling the Cathedral Quarter with the sounds of jazz.

Fans of Julie Andrews (and be honest, who isn't?) are awaiting the arrival of Julie, Madly, Deeply – a musical tribute to the lady.

And I haven't mentioned Eamon Dunphy and Edna O'Brien.

The Belfast Barge hosts Harvest, a tribute to Neil Young, and there's a beanbag cinema and secret cabaret along the way.

After the bumper portions on offer at OTL, we'll all be considering a diet come February. But not yet. Not until the table's bare.

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