AS we approach the end of the year, we enter my favorite and most dreaded period of the year. LISTMAS. The time in which all music listeners arrange their albums, singles, and gigs in an ascending/descending order is entirely dependent on preference. No issue if it's staying in your head, but with some faithful readers out there, the task becomes all the more daunting for your faithful Northern Winds columnist. 

So stay tuned in the coming weeks for a handy, well-thought, and pointed breakdown of some of the best native LPs, singles, gigs, and ones to watch for the next year. Worry not readers, we’ll keep you right.

Until that time, however, we’re dedicating this week's column to a celebration of some of the best local gigs and concerts coming up towards the end of the year. With the first proper Christmas of live events in a number of years, punters are sure to be out in force supporting our homegrown talent, and we wouldn’t want you to miss out. See below for our top picks

Joshua Burnside - The Ulster Hall - December 23rd

For those not in the know, Joshua Burnside might be one of our most respected and talented songwriters, certainly of this generation. He makes sad, strange songs and experimental noises in the shades of Bon Iver, John Martyn, and Nick Drake. The producer/singer has toured around the world, been streamed over 60 million times, and played on some of the biggest stages around the country, all whilst based in East Belfast and without the support of a label.

Following the release of his second album, Burnside sold-out three nights in a row at The Ulster Sports Club, the first act in Ireland to do so. Now taking a step up to his biggest headline to date, the experimental songwriter announced that he has sold-out the iconic Ulster Hall. Not bad for an artist with two songs banned by the BBC (Check out ‘Red And White Blues’ and ‘Late Afternoon In The Meadow (1887)’ for some excellent, and unbroadcastable, songwriting).

With a series of production tickets to be released for final sale on December 22nd, this is one to be quick on the trigger for.

Lemonade Shoelace - Lavery’s - December 18th 

Headline showcases in Austin, Texas, and Brighton, East Sussex. Gigs from Mexico City to Dingle Village. Not bad for an act with only one song out. And yet, Lemonade Shoelaces' summery psychedelia and wild live performances have touched hearts and minds the world over.

With new music on the horizon and a team-up on the night with Flay Apparel, the East Belfast-based local fashion guru, this night has plenty on the table for anyone who wants to get on the ground floor with what could be our next big export.

Support on the night comes from experimental hip-hop act YinYang, who played a blinder of a show with Post-Punk/Techno act CHALK in The Ulster Sports Club earlier this year, and from bouncy indie hopefuls Casual Riots. 

Wynona Bleach - Lavery’s - December 20th

Another act that will be representing the north at this year's SXSW gathering in Texas, Wynona Bleach will take their glittering pop-rock to the same Lavery’s stage this Christmas for their own X-Mas party.

With their debut album ‘Moonsoake’ shortlisted for ‘Album Of The Year’ during the NI Music Prize a few weeks ago, this is an act that is known for putting on one of the best shows in the country. Also backed up on the night by shoegaze newcomers Virgins and Derry noise-makers TRAMP, tickets are moving fast for this one.

And So I Watch You From Afar - Mandela Hall - December 16th

It’s hard to label And So I Watch You From Afar. They've been around long enough to be a legacy act, but are consistently innovative, game-changing, and surprising their audience. They are a sight to behold and are one of the first local acts to headline the return of the iconic Mandela hall. The winner of this year's NI Music Prize Best Album award, Robocobra Quartet are one of our premier acts, and play main support on the night alongside pop-punks CHERYM. Fuzzing the lines between jazz, punk, electronica, alternative, and experimental genres, get down to see them asap.