Planning your Christmas party? You better watch out ... for 12 (mostly free) gigs of Christmas!

Perhaps you’ll already have every bit of shopping done and want to start your Christmas holidays with a drink and a gig or maybe you haven’t even starting writing your shopping list but either way, here is a list compiled by Ronan Leonard of 12 standout live music events in Cork happening before the end of the year. The Majority of them are free events to help your Christmas budget!
Planning your Christmas party? You better watch out ... for 12 (mostly free) gigs of Christmas!
Get ready for some Christmas crackers!


Playing Reardens on St Stephen’s Night.
Playing Reardens on St Stephen’s Night.


Perhaps you’ll already have every bit of shopping done and want to start your Christmas holidays with a drink and a gig or maybe you haven’t even starting writing your shopping list but either way, here is a list compiled by Ronan Leonard of 12 standout live music events in Cork happeing before the end of the year. The Majority of them are free events to help your Christmas budget!


Midnight Rambles: At Oliver Plunkett on Thursday, December 19.
Midnight Rambles: At Oliver Plunkett on Thursday, December 19.

The 12 Gigs of Christmas trail starts tonight with The Midnight Ramble, (Free) in Oliver The Plunkett. One of Cork’s best weekly late live music options, a host of the city’s best musicians play in the middle of the bar with the crowd singing and dancing around them or simply just enjoying the great music. Essentially a high level Jam sessions you never know what songs you’ll hear from Tracey Chapman to Fleetwood Mac to Tom Petty. There is a very strong chance members of The Everyman Theatre’s Pantomime Band will be down letting off some musical steam as well!

Maria Somerville: The Roundy, tomorrow night.(Pic Aila Harryson Horigan)
Maria Somerville: The Roundy, tomorrow night.(Pic Aila Harryson Horigan)

On Friday, December 20, Plug’d Records and Sunshine Cult Records will be presenting a concert upstairs in The Roundy headlined by Maria Somerville (€10), starting at 9pm it will run all the way to 2.30am. In addition to post-punk, traditional Irish motifs, starry-eyed pop and hypnotic drones, Maria draws on folk styles to produce completely original music born from her origins in Connemara, Western Ireland. Also performing on the night will be Mark Waldron-Hyden and MANTUA (a new harmonium led project by Elaine Malone), with DJ Cáit Fa.

Ophelia McCabe: The Crane Lane, Saturday, December 21
Ophelia McCabe: The Crane Lane, Saturday, December 21

The next day (December 21) Yes I will be playing in The Crane Lane, formed by Ophelia McCabe especially for the recent ‘Ska and Reggae Festival’ they play inspired versions of classic roots reggae songs that should uplift any soul, especially any that are wiped out from Christmas preparations! Each member of the all-female quintet covers vocals duties while they each play Bass, Keyboards, Drums, Saxophone and Trumpet.Just over the river Hot Blooded Animals (Free), one of Cork’s best cover bands will be taking over Charlies on Union Quay, they never fail to get a room rocking with incredible versions of classic songs by artists such as Rory Gallagher, The Doors, David Bowie.

Anita Williams: Coughlans, Sunday, December 22.
Anita Williams: Coughlans, Sunday, December 22.

On Sunday, December 22, most of Cork will really be gearing up for celebration, and perhaps ex-pats will start returning - I recommend taking an early evening breather in Coughlans with a 7pm show by Anita Williams (Free) and her band. Now based in Singapore she returns to play her native city with music made popular by people such as Billie Holiday and Judy Garland. Her debut album is due out in the New Year so audiences will hear the materiel she has been working on with her band.

On Monday, December 23, I have to suggest an event that is a bonus on top of the 12 gigs, a live conversation with Kyla Cobbler which being held in Crawford & Co, a Milan based Corkonian, who over the last few months has become an Instagram sensation, mainly for her absolute down to earth (with plenty of Cork and Irish style) storytelling style. One absolutely hilarious tale that involved a run in with the law will be bringing down the house on the night. All the proceeds shall be split between BeLong Cork, Pieta House and Cat Heaven Cork. It’s not too late to follow her now and you can see some of those stories on instagram at @kylacobbler.


Hank Wedel & Ray Barron: Charlies, Christmas Eve.
Hank Wedel & Ray Barron: Charlies, Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve, the last gig in town kicks off around 9pm in Charlies with Hank Wedel & Ray Barron (Free), it has become such an institution, that they released their original Christmas Song and EP called ‘Christmas (On A Cold Cork Christmas Eve)’. They will be playing plenty of Christmas songs along with their Monday Night standards… and who knows what musical guests will be joining them


Playing Reardens on St Stephen’s Night.
Playing Reardens on St Stephen’s Night.

Pat Fitz (Free) and his band will be playing in Reardens on St Stephens Night from 10.30pm, and will help clear the Turkey, stuffing and all the extras hangover with his high energy showmanship and song selection. You might remember him from his run on You’re A Star and since then he has built up a reputation as one of Ireland’s most charismatic and energetic performers.

Hothouse Flowers: Live at St Luke’s, Sunday, December 29.
Hothouse Flowers: Live at St Luke’s, Sunday, December 29.

Sunday, December 29, has two options that are a few minutes walk apart, early in the evening The Hothouse Flowers (€28.50) play Live At Saint Lukes, their last few concerts in that venue haven’t failed to stir up the crowd with their own original songs and reinterpretations of others, to paraphrase their biggest hit ‘Do Go’! 

Emily Donoghue: The Bru, Sunday, December 29.
Emily Donoghue: The Bru, Sunday, December 29.

Another great interpreter of song is Emily Donoghue (Free), who will be playing in the Bru from 9.30pm, her great singing voice gets a stronghold of any song she chooses to play. She is a member of several groups such TOUCAN, Queen Grace and Paddy Dennehy’s band, but she is able to hold court on any stage as a solo artist. Fusing folk, rock, bluegrass and pop, you can't help but enjoy any set of music she puts together.

Myles Gaffney: Cyprus Avenue, Monday, December 30.
Myles Gaffney: Cyprus Avenue, Monday, December 30.

Myles Gaffney (€12) will be playing Cyprus Avenue on Monday, December 30, a prolific songwriter and live powerhouse, his songs such as ‘Keano’ and ‘Northside Til I Die’ constantly connect him to his audiences. His previous performances in that venue have sold out regularly so best get a ticket in advance. His support of various social causes adds an authenticity to the evocative ballads he writes and performs.

Arthuritis: The Kino, New Year’s Eve.

Arthuritis: The Kino, New Year’s Eve.
Arthuritis: The Kino, New Year’s Eve.

Elaine Malone: The Kino, New Year’s Eve.On New Years eve I have two live music suggestions, one is Bauld Lang Syne (€15) at the Kino featuring several of Cork’s leading alternative bands such as Lowlek, Elaine Malone, Arthuritis and Laurie Shaw (as well as a DJ set from Cathal and Elaine from the Altered Hours). 

Laurie Shaw: The Kino, New Year’s Eve.
Laurie Shaw: The Kino, New Year’s Eve.

All of those acts have made a serious impression on the Irish music landscape this year and look set for bigger and brighter things in 2019.

On the other side of town you can go to Coughlans to enjoy Whoa Mama! (Free) in Coughlans who’ll be ringing in the New Year with a great selection of hits from the 1970s right up to modern pop, performed with an equal measure of sassiness and rhythm. Songs by Aretha Franklin, The Bangles, Garbage, Prince, Bowie, The Cardigans and Talking Heads will all be on the setlist as we go from 2019 all the way to 2020!

(All times are subject to change, please check each venue’s social media in advance)

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