“And YOU can be there!” said Mark Radcliffe back in February, after reading out the Folk Awards nominations on his radio programme and announcing that this year's ceremony would take place in Belfast. I immediately decided I'd better be, and so it was that I found myself in Belfast on a wet and windy afternoon last week.

Tonight’s visit to the legendary City Varieties in Leeds is a first for me, and long overdue although music is only part of this venues repertoire with most of the upcoming programme being reserved for stand up comedians and theatre. For older readers, the venue hosted The Good Old Days several decades ago, and was a regular in my house growing up as a kid.

Ergodos is a record label and music production company based in Dublin. They specialise in site-specific concerts and their series of events at the Little Museum of Dublin is really quite wonderful. First of all there is the location – a quirky award-winning museum on St Stephen's Green. Numbers are limited, so the audience can get close to the action and the setting guarantees chatter-free listening.

CC Smugglers have played in many unusual places; I first saw them busking in the bar at Cambridge Folk Festival, then at a summer street party, and last year they had graduated to one of the main Cambridge Folk stages. They are always very riotous, a mix of bluegrass, music hall jazz and folk reels, the life and soul of the party.

Jake Bugg is a big name. He has headlined the Other and the John Peel stages at Glastonbury, headlined Cambridge Folk Festival (which I missed due to a clash), and in Dublin he has played at the Olympia and Marlay Park. Therefore when it was announced that he would come to Whelans, fans were at the ready online. A first date sold out instantly, so a second one was added. That sold out too, but that was the one I managed to get a ticket for.

Performing as part of the 'Creativity Transforms Lives' programme (along with the likes of GoGo Penguin, Levellers and Beth Orton) at London's Roundhouse, Nadine Shah took the Friday night slot in an intimate, 'in the round' stage setting.

The decision to go and see Lau was made last summer, when I was at Beautiful Days. I had spent a long, rainy day watching bands and trundling through the mud. I walked into the tent where Lau were playing and it was packed. I suddenly felt very tired and when I saw a space in line with the stage where I could sit on metal rather than muddy grass I decided to have a sit down and a picnic. I had my back to the stage and could not see the band, but I could hear Lau's music reverberating through the tent. The crowd was loving it and it sounded brilliant. I knew I should have been out there watching them.

This series of gigs was Sigur Ros’ first in Iceland since their ‘Heima’ tour 5 years ago. Tonight was the first of four consecutive nights at Reykjavik’s Harpa centre, the central point of a four day art and music festival ‘Nordur Og Nidur’ (loosely translated as ‘Go To Hell’).

The live music scene in Dublin is healthy at the best of times, but goes into overdrive the weeks before Christmas. If time and money were no object you could go to top gigs for a fortnight straight. The Kíla Christmas show is something of an institution now and I cannot recall exactly how many I have been. I remember Whelans, Vicar Street and the Meeting House Square. For the last few years they have held it at the Button Factory, a great venue that unfortunately programmes tribute acts a lot of the time.

Ye Vagabonds released their self-titled debut album in October. Carlow-raised Dublin-based brothers Diarmuid and Brían Mac Gloinn launched their album at Marrowbone Books in the Coombe and celebrated with two sell out gigs in the Cobblestone pub. I managed to miss all of that, but did go to the bookshop to get a copy of the album. This then got snowed under in the avalanche of excellent releases this autumn and I did not give the album the attention it warranted.

The Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin's Docklands area opened in 2010. These days it goes by the less attractive name Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. It is mostly used for musicals, which is a shame as it is a great place for live music. On 3 December the venue hosted Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, with support from Devon folk musician – and new Space Shifter – Seth Lakeman.

I arrived at the Bello Bar a little early, just before a queue formed that stretched all around the corner of the Lower Deck – the Portobello pub that houses this cool venue in its basement. I had come to this show because I knew I liked the support act and I was curious about the headliners. The majority of the folks queueing were presumably already aware of the brilliance of Anna & Elizabeth.

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