Culture NI Christmas Gift Guide

Beat the Black Friday frenzy with our hand-picked selection of locally-sourced stocking fillers

Seasonal shopping is well and truly underway and with it comes all the traditional anxieties of the annual free-for-all in hope of the best one-day deals. Many are also faced with the often nigh on impossible task of picking the perfect present for their nearest and dearest and often seek whatever guidance is out there to point them in the right direction.

While our list mightn't provide the answers to all of the big questions looming over the high street this Christmas, it will hopefully give you an idea of something than can still bring a smile to the face of a lover of local art and culture in your life.

Music

SOAK - Before We Forgot How To Dream

The Derry songstress's debut full-length recently earned her the NI Music Prize, while she just narrowly missed out on the UK and Ireland-wide equivalent from the Mercury panel. Released on legendary indie label Rough Trade back in May, the album distills the teen's meteoric rise into a collection of beautifully aching songs.

SOAK NI MP.jpg

Duke Special - Look Out Machines!

On his first album in three years Peter Wilson, better known Duke Special, goes electro. Propelled by synths and marked by a romantic, optimistic lyricism, it's his most personal offering to date. Read our review.

Ash - Kablammo!

Downpatrick's most famous sons had 'by no means rendered a perfect comeback', we said upon Kablammo!'s release, but there was still little to dislike and much to admire about the trio's first traditional album in almost a decade.

Therapy? - Disquiet

For those who prefer their music on the louder end of the spectrum, the east Antrim band's fearsome latest release felt like a sequel of sorts to 1994's seminal Troublegum, dealing with addiction, ageing and expectation with typical vigour. Read our review.

Books

The Bones of It by Kelly Creighton - Liberties Press

Described by fellow crime writer Brian McGilloway as 'chilling, compulsive and beautifully written', Newtownards author Kelly Creighton's debut novel is set in post-Troubles County Down and centres on Scott, who after being kicked out of university is living with his father for the first time. Read our feature on Kelly.

Deadlight by Desmond Doherty - Guildhall Press

Set in his home city of Derry~Londonderry, Desmond Doherty's Valberg series has seen him described by global crime-writing phenomenon Lee Child as 'one to watch'. And with film producer Andrew Eaton currently optioning it for screen, there's no better opportunity to experience the cinematic style of the source material in its third written instalment. Read our feature.

Des

The Faerie Thorn by Jane Talbot - Blackstaff Press

Swindon-born and now Ballymoney-based writer Jane Talbot was another of our debut authors to watch out for this year, and with this dark and enchanting collection of short fiction for adults she really captured the essence of Northern Ireland as the nights start to draw in ever more early in the autumn months. Read a sample extract.

Central Belfast: A Historical Gazettear by Marcus Patton - Ulster Architectural Heritage Society

Twenty years after publishing a book describing the buildings of Belfast in historical detail, architect Marcus Patton revised his directory to reflect the city's modern rebirth. ‘The internet is an invaluable index to the world, and provides instant information about what is out there today,’ he told us, 'but it is a lot less effective at telling us about historic situations, or allowing us to tell at a glance how a building or site developed.' Read our feature.

Belfast Gazetteer

TV/Film

Being A.P.

Helmed by the director of the recent feature-length Ronaldo documentary and the BAFTA Award-winning Children on the Frontline - Syria, Being A.P. chronicles the glittering career of horseracing great A.P. McCoy as the jockey gallops towards his retirement ride.

The Fall - Seasons One and Two

Get caught up on the complete series of this gripping BBC thriller as viewers eagerly await to see the outcome of season two's final cliffhanger. Will Jamie Dornan's deranged killer stalk the streets of Belfast once more or will X-Files star Gillian Anderson finally deliver justice? Bring yourself up to speed before the next instalment arrives.

'71

Scored by Ivor Novello-winning producer David Holmes, Jack O'Connell excels in this taut Troubles-era thriller by director Yann Demange and writer Gregory Burke. Read our review.

Game of Thrones - Seasons One to Four

While the fifth outing of HBO's monstrous fantasy series aired earlier this year, the holidays are the ideal time to rewind and refamiliarise yourself with everything that has come before. The long and steady build up to season six has already begun with the release of its first official poster, so disconnect yourself from the plot-spoiling hazards of the web and settle in the long haul - winter is coming.