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I'm Heather McGarrigle and this is my blog - a colourful celebration of culture, crafting and creativity in Northern Ireland and beyond.

What’s On This Week: 14th - 20th October

A great week ahead - plenty of music, but also art, comedy and even conferences. If I've missed anything you think should be here, get in touch. I can't promise to put everything in, but I will do my best!

Tuesday 15th October

Belfast

Thrive Conference

Taking place in the Lyric Theatre, Thrive is a half-day conference examining the creative industries in Northern Ireland, led by international speaker and digital expert Eric Huang. Organised by the Arts Council NI, it's designed to celebrate the success of creative industries and explore their importance in this country. There will be networking opportunities and workshop sessions with Invest NI, Dr Rachel Smart and Halo. Tickets are free and available from eventbrite now.

Otis Gibbs

The Real Music Club presents folk singer songwriter Otis Gibbs in the Arbele lounge of the Errigle Inn, supported by Amelia Curran. He's been compared to Woody Guthrie, Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen, and to describe Otis as a folk artist is "too simplistic" say the online blurbs. Having spent the past fifteen years travelling across America, he certainly has a few interesting stories and life lessons to share. Doors open at 8pm, tickets are £14 and are available from ticketsource now.

Thursday 17th October

Belfast

Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's

One of the most popular annual arts festivals in Belfast begins today, running until 27th October. There is music, theatre, dance, circus and visual arts, with a wide range of venues and a lot of variety. Anticipated highlights include Wish by Jorge Rodríguez–Gerada, Damn the Circus in Belmont Park and Falls Park and a concert by José Carreras. All programmes and booking information are available online at belfastfestival.com

Juma – Seven Songs Album Launch

Juma are a five-piece described as playing "an eclectic mixture of gypsy jazz, soulful blues, toe-tapping swing blended with rockin' riffs and wailing electric guitar". On Thursday, they launch their album Seven Songs in the vibrant Belfast rock bar Voodoo. They'll be supported by Afresh and Mandy and Graham Bingham. It's £5 in or £8 with a copy of the album.

Newtownabbey

The Viral Comedy Show

A comedy showcase featuring local comedians Mickey Bartlett (known for stand up and appearances on TV panel shows including The Blame Game) and Colin Geddis (also a stand up and well known in NI for his online comic creations, such as Barry the Blender Henderson). This is an adult only show, tickets are £10 and can be purchased from thecourtyardtheatre.com The show starts at 8pm.

Friday 18th October

Belfast

RUA Annual Exhibition

The Royal Ulster Academy's 132nd annual exhibition begins in the Ulster Museum today and runs until 5th January 2014. Academy artists, invited artists and artists whose work was chosen through open submission will be featured and there will be over 250 works on display. The exhibition takes places in galleries six and seven and on Saturdays, a free public tour takes place at 2.30pm. More details, including opening hours, are available on the event page and on the main museum website.

Distillation 05 at The Oh Yeah Centre

The fifth in the music hub's series of special showcase events produced in association with Bushmills® Irish Whiskey and supported by Arts and Business NI. It's a gig showcasing up and coming NI music talent alongside more established acts. Friday's gig is opened by grunge act Vanilla Gloom, followed by post-punk dance band Bats, with the night headlined by the self-proclaimed "experimental party band" Blue Whale.

Thrifty Thursday: Habitat Restore

Thrifty Thursday: Habitat Restore

ReFound Makes: Mandie Lowry's record stool

ReFound Makes: Mandie Lowry's record stool