So as we say goodbye to 2005, we can remember another fantastic summer of festivals and the extraordinary event that was Live8, the year U2 were the biggest live draw on the planet and Green Day put on one of the UK's rock events of the decade. British alternative music really cemented itself in the consciousness of a generation not least through supporting the kings of live rock around the world.

It was a year which started with the Tsunami benefit show in Cardiff, and saw Glastonbury have it's own wash out obviously of far lesser proportions. With summer 2006 having no Glasto to look forward to, it'll be the turn of some of the other majors to state their claim to be the countries, if not the world's best and most loved festival.

On the album front, a few of the bands who sparked the rise of the British Indy rock revolution a couple of years ago are preparing to present the follow ups to their break through records. Alongside that some huge names are stirring in their collective baskets before rolling over and stretching ready to pounce.

We have no crystal ball, and although we as music fans have an idea of what the highpoints of the next twelve months might be, it's the surprise element and unpredictability that first excites, and then a year from now will ultimately be the thing which 2006 will be judged by.

Our preview of 2006 is not a list of bands we think, or would like to be the big hitters a year from now, as you the music consumer will determine that regardless of what the music press may tell you, just look at the rise of Arctic Monkeys in 2005. This is merely an overview of what you might be listening to, when your festival of choice is to take place, and how you can fit your summer movements around the world cup be that to enjoy or avoid.

Read on for our beginners guide to 2006, a more detailed guide to each month will be added to the site at the start of each month.

Winter Jan/Feb

Barely will the hangover cures have kicked in from New Year, when the first major album release of 2006 will be filling the new release rack of your local record store. 'First Impressions of Earth' from the Strokes is the first of many in January and they can't come soon enough given the greatest hits monotony that was the run up to Christmas.

A week later Dragonforce and Bleeding Through release their eagerly awaited new records, but it's not until the 23rd when the albums start to come thick and fast, with a list that includes Richard Ashcroft, Kooks, Yellowcard and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

For many though it is the 30th of January which they will be looking forward to with great anticipation as that is when the Arctic Monkeys can really be judged as the debut record is unleashed, just as they hit the road with Maximo Park, We Are Scientists and Mystery Jets for the NME Tour. Anything NME can do, Kerrang can do too, Bullet for my Valentine head up a massive UK tour to celebrate 25 years of the rock magazine.

Two massive charity shows round off January. At the MEN Arena it's the Manchester Vs Cancer show featuring New Order, Doves, Badly Drawn Boy and Smiths members Andy Rourke and Johnny Marr plus many more. Meanwhile in Cardiff it's the One Earth Concert featuring the likes of Strokes, Manics and Super Furry Animals. Get more on One Earth


February sees three major award shows, Brits, NME and
The Grammies.

On the album front Paul Weller (or is it Paul Weller's record company) will be celebrating his 'Lifetime Achievement' award at the Brits with a best of compilation. Ironically in the month of the awards the new Bell and Sebastian album is out (on 6th). They hit the headlines in the late nineties by winning the best New Comer Award from a public vote, even though much of the mainstream music world were yet to hear them. Also out this month is the debut from the Modern, which if their singles are anything to go by should be an interesting listen.

Tour wise
Alkaline Trio
Go! Team
Johnny Truant
Magic Numbers

Are all on the road in February.

Finally the Johnny Cash biopic 'Walk the Line' is released in UK cinemas. The film is out on Feb 3rd. A couple of weeks before this the film will be shown to inmates at the notorious Folsom State Prison, where Cash himself played one of his most famous shows.

Read more

Spring Mar/May

March is when many in the music industry disappear to the US for either the South by South West festival if they're interest is bands, and those looking to find the massive summer club smash, head in the direction of the Miami Winter Music Conference.

At SxSW, Brits such as Arctic Monkeys, Go! Team and Duke Spirit will hope to catch the eyes of the American Music Industry at the event, which is held in Austin, Texas between 15-19 March, that has become one of the most significant in the musical calendar.

For those of us stuck at home in the tale end of winter, there's many a new album to look forward to. Delays 'You See Colours' (6th) and Morrissey 'Ringleader of the Tormentors' (20th) as well as Pipettes, Streets, Towers of London, X-Press 2 and Dizzee Rascal are all expected in March.

Moving on to April and the big albums are scheduled to keep on coming. Feeder will play their rescheduled London, Birmingham and Brighton shows towards the end of March and the 'Greatest Hits' album is planned for April. Also Flaming Lips release 'At War With The Mystics', Lacuna Coil give us 'Karmacode' and Snow Patrol's 'Eyes Open' should be with us towards the end of the month. Also watch out for new records by Charlatans, The Dears, Fightstar, Vines, Zutons, Zero7 and Fatboy Slim.

We have to wait a few more weeks for the UK festival circus to really kick in, but many of the star attractions will be building up the air miles by heading to California for the Coachella festival between April 29-30.

A little closer to home, now in it's eleventh year, Ireland's Heineken Green Energy festival will be taking place at Dublin Castle over the May bank holiday weekend (April 29 - May 1), with Kaiser Chiefs and Ian Brown among the acts performing.

If you're after an indoor festival then Give It A Name takes place over the same weekend at the MEN Arena in Manchester and London's Earls Court. The weekend will be headlined by My Chemical Romance and Lost Profits.

All Tomorrow's Parties take up two weekends in May, both at Camber Sands, nr Rye, East Sussex, with weekend 1 taking place between 12th and 14th, which incidentally is FA Cup final weekend, and weekend 2 the following week, 19th to 21st. For more on ATP

Click here

The other main festival of May is Homelands, which is provisionally scheduled for Saturday 27th, at it's usual Hampshire venue.

On the album front, Basement Jaxx, Bees, Keane, Muse and Red Hot Chili Peppers all should have new stuff for us to enjoy by May.

Summer June/Aug

Like you need me to tell you that it's the festivals and the world cup that will dominate the following three months. Here's what's on when. Keep checking the news pages for line up details.

Wychwood Music Festival - 2-4th June, Cheltenham Racecourse.
Monsters of Rock - 3rd June, Milton Keynes Bowl.
Download - 9-11th June, Donnington.
Isle of Wight - 9-11th June, Seaclose Park Newport.
Oxegen 8-9th July, Punchestown Racecourse, Naas, Co Kildare, Eir.
T in the Park 8-9th July, nr Kinross. Scotland.
Bloodstock Open Air 14-15th July, Catton Hall, Walton-on-Trent, South Derbyshire.
Wakestock 14-15th July, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, North Wales.
Guilfest- 14-16th July, Guildford, Surrey.
Benicassim - 20-23rd July, Valencia, Spain.
Godskitchen Global Gathering 28-29th July, nr. Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire.
Big Chill @ Eastnor Castle 4-6th August, Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire.
Summer Sundae Weekender 11-13th August, Leicester
V Festival - 19-20th August, Chelmsford and Staffordshire.
Carling Weekend - 25-27th August, Reading and Leeds.
Creamfields - 26th August, Liverpool.

As we get later in the year there are less albums with fixed release dates, but it is hoped that during the summer we will get new records from the Cure, Linkin Park and Mastodon.

Now if you're planning your summer movements and are either an England football fan or just a football fan in general, here's the key dates from the World Cup so you can attempt to keep in touch from the comfort of your field.

The tournament will begin on Friday 9th with Germany Vs Costa Rica. England's group matches are on Saturday 10th (Download and Isle of Wight weekend) at 2 PM. The other group matches are on Thursday 15th and Tuesday 20th and so don't clash with festivals.

The knock out stages begin on the weekend of 24-25th, and England will be playing on either of those days assuming they get that far. The quarterfinals are on June 30th and July 1st, with the semi finals during the middle of the following week.

The world cup final will be on Sunday 9th July at 7 PM, so if you plan to go to either Oxegen or T in the Park then that's when any potential split loyalty between football and music will have to be worked out.

Finally both
Rolling Stones
Will be playing massive out-door tours over the summer of 2006.

Autumn/Winter Sept/Dec

There's a couple more festivals to round off the summer in September.

Bestival 8-10th September, Robin Hill Countryside Adventure Park, Isle of Wight.
Bloodstock 29-30th September, Assembly Rooms, Derby.

The Mercury Music Prize winner will be announced mid September.

It is hoped that the next Iron Maiden album will be ready to go by this stage, with a tour to support it's release.

Finally a Nirvana film is planned to be unveiled at film festivals during autumn. In a unique twist Kurt Cobain himself will narrate the film, with producers using more than 25 hours of interview tapes recorded by journalist Michael Azerrad between December 1992 and March 1993 when researching the book 'Come As You Are'.

Keep checking our news pages for the latest on all the things in the guide, and as more are announced this feature will be updated.