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Your Essential Summer Gig Guide

With this line-up, summer is well and truly heating up!

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As the assignments are handed in and the sun begins to set on exam season, you may be starting to think about your summer plans. For those who aren’t jetting off to an exotic location, you’re probably looking for trips and weekend activities that are fun, close to home and don’t break the bank. One of the best things about Belfast is the thriving live music scene, and this summer is packed with amazing gigs to keep you entertained. Whether you want to get the wellies on and head to a festival with your mates or seek out some alternative acts in the underground indie scene, there really is something to suit everyone. Here are my picks of the best gigs happening this summer in Northern Ireland!


Best for grunge

Wynona Bleach

Image: Wynona Beach

Whilst festival season hasn’t fully kicked off yet, there are plenty of shows happening to keep you entertained. If you like loud guitars with a heavy dose of distortion and grungy, sticky-floored venues, then Smorgasbord is for you! This unique gig night hits Voodoo on 15th June, and the line-up is sensational. Headlined by effervescent alternative outfit Wynona Bleach with support from ROE, Ember Trails and Dirty Faces, you get four brilliant local acts and a great night out, for only £5! There are other ‘Smorgasbord’ gigs happening throughout the month, and you can even get a golden ticket for £15 that grants access to all events.

Best for pop

For pop aficionados, the first Belsonic events begin in June. Acoustic dreamboats Picture This are playing Ormeau Park with support from LANY on 17th June, fresh from a sold out SSE Arena show in October 2017. The band are charming audiences worldwide, with their heartfelt debut platinum album having entered the charts at number one! Fans of Picture This may also want to head to Ormeau Park on the 24th June for more Irish pop anthems, as The Script and Gavin James take to the stage.

Best for new music

Joshua Burnside

Image: Joshua Burnside

My final pick for June is Joshua Burnside’s EP Launch at The Empire Music Hall on 29th June. His enchanting debut album ‘Ephrata’ is easily one of the most beautiful albums to come out of our country in years. Don’t believe me? It was awarded the 2017 NI Music Prize and has been praised in countless reviews from Chordblossom to NPR, who named Burnside as one of their SXSW Artists to Watch for 2018. His new EP, ‘All Round the Light Said’, is being launched at this gig, and is sure to impress. Plus, The Empire is conveniently located on Botanic Avenue, so for those living around the university area - there’s no excuse for missing it!


Best for moshing

Surf green


July sees the pocket-rocket punk trio Surf Green headlining McHughs Bar on Friday 6th. With support from Sit Tight, Hit the B Button and Romeo Indigo Romeo, this will be a fun-filled night for fans of Green Day, Weezer and The Offspring. Expect tasty riffs, moshing and confetti cannons.

Best for alternative rock

Further confirming that July is the perfect month for finding your new favourite local band, Hot Cops play Foundry on 28th. This gig boasts free entry, four bands on the bill, and you will undoubtedly fall in love with Hot Cops’ unique brand of fuzzy alternative rock. Who could say no to that?

Best for camping


Image: Unsplash

You can catch even more local artists at Sunflowerfest (27th-29th), a three-day celebration of music and art at Tubby's Farm in Hillsborough. The line-up features the likes of Fangclub, Otherkin, The Sugarhill Gang, Beauty Sleep and We Were Promised Jetpacks! So grab a tent and grab your friends for an authentic festival experience – and it’s only 30 minutes outside of Belfast!


Best for soaking up the summer sun

Custom house Square

Image: Unsplash

Ah August! The last hurrah before everyone heads back to university and ‘real life’ rears its head once again. You still have time to squeeze in some gigs before the McClay Library becomes your second home! George Ezra brings the sunshine to Custom House Square on 10th, followed by indie pop outfit Kodaline at the same venue on 23rd. Top tip: if the student budget is leaving you strapped for cash, the promoter ‘Shine’ runs regular competitions on social media for a chance to win free tickets, so make sure to enter. With both acts releasing new music this year, the gigs are sure to be the perfect conclusion to a summer full of live music.


For more ideas on how to spend your summer in Belfast see:

The Ultimate NI Road-trip: The North Coast

10 cool things to do that are less than 2 hours away from Belfast

Photo: Lauren Johnson
Lauren Johnson
BA English