News Christmas Day 2013 was all about the battle for the other most worthy yuletide delivery: the alternative Christmas message.

While Channel 4 located the alabaster NSA whistleblower, several other household names came out of the tinsel

The Hold Steady, Roundhouse, London

As any self-respecting rock'n' roller knows, the press love a good myth.

Ray Lowry: Cartoonist best known for his work in the rock music press

Although best known for his distinctive and often rather surreal cartoons for Punch, Private Eye and many other publications – especially in the rockmusic industry – over the past four decades, Ray Lowry also worked as a journalist, illustrator, designer and oil painter.

Music & Me: Mick Jones

The first record I bought was...

There were two records I bought with my own money when I was 12 year's old. Jimi Hendrix Experience Smash Hits and Cream Disraeli Gears.

The birth of The Clash

An epiphany at a Sex Pistols gig led to the formation of the most enduring of punk bands. Here, in an extract from a new book, The Clash reveal how they started in a London squat

My Secret Life: Mark Strong, Actor, age 45

The home I grew up in... was a flat in Middleton Square in London's Islington, a beautiful Georgian square with a huge church in the middle. We moved around a lot when I was a kid. I remember flats in Walthamstow, Clapton, Stoke Newington and Edmonton, as well.

Snapshots of fame: The Sunshine Bores the Daylights Out of Me

A treasure trove of photographs of rock royalty lay hidden for years. Now, fans can rediscover them at a new show, says Charlotte Cripps

Womad Festival, Charlton Park, Wiltshire

Rachid Taha's wildness restates festival's mission of connection

Top ten tape tips

Honest Jon's - the world in the mix

Honest Jon's record label is putting on a cross-cultural spectacular at London's Barbican. Tim Cumming reports

The City Sings, Barbican, London

When it's lit up at night, the office block facing the entrance to the Barbican looks like the embodiment of capitalism. The rows of cubbyholes stretching heavenwards are all identical, each with the same standard-issue desk, lamp and shelves of black folders. On the first floor, where the big bosses presumably reside, the lighting is softer, and there's some serious art on the walls: culture clearly makes a suitable background accompaniment to the agreeable business of amassing millions.

The great Rock Against Racism show plays it again

Thirty years after a mega-gig changed Britain's cultural landscape, its veterans are back for an encore. Jonathan Owen reports

Rock against racism: Remembering that gig that started it all

This weekend, Rock Against Racism and the Anti Nazi League's historic 1978 Carnival is celebrated in an anniversary gig. Here, some of those who organised or played at the original concert – and members of the audience – remember the event

Janet Street-Porter: So what chance did Karen ever have?

The trial by media of Karen Matthews, mother of Shannon, the little girl who was missing for 24 days, continues. Yesterday it was announced that the date for her trial on charges of child neglect and perverting the course of justice has been set for November. Some sections of the press seem intent on trashing the clearly inadequate Ms Matthews just as they did Fiona MacKeown, mother of murdered teenager Scarlett Keeling – unearthing endless examples of her "unsuitability" as a mother.

The 5-minute interview: Rachid Taha, Singer

'The way political structures are built doesn't allow for honesty'

How We Met: John Niven & James Dean Bradfield

'We lived a Welsh Valleys lifestyle, but in London. We were good, hard, steady drinkers'
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there