Frequently Asked Questions

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2021

Updated 19th July 2021

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is scheduled to be held at the Old Swan Hotel from the 22 – 25 July 2021.

Given the current pandemic, the proposed roadmap, the available events guidance and, most importantly of all for us, the safety of our authors and audience, there are a number of things to be aware of. As an arts and events charity, the guidance has changed a significant amount during the stages of unlocking and we want to ensure our audiences and partners are aware of our current plans for delivery. We will be updating these FAQs regularly so please do check back for the most up to date information.

Those familiar with the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival will recognise the Ballroom in the Old Swan Hotel as the usual host to a number of events across the weekend. However, based on the current distancing regulations, we have moved to an on-site tented auditorium, allowing ventilation and increasing the size of the venue whilst reducing capacities. The tent will host all of the live events, likely with a limited capacity audience based on the guidelines at the time.

In addition, the events will be broadcast live to our Digital Lounge within the Ballroom, similar but larger in scale to our Friends Lounge allowing a more relaxed approach to the event. Access to the Definitely Digital Lounge will be ticketed and situated just a few metres away from the events themselves.

As the rules relax, there will be the opportunity to upgrade from the Digital Lounge to the live stage in the tent and full details are available on our Ticket & Accommodation pages.

We know the bars, socialising and the tents on the lawn are a huge part of the overall event, and we are working to create enough space to accommodate those that have booked tickets. As the guidance has relaxed queuing bar service is able to take place. However, we have increased the number of bars across the site to reduce queues where possible. We have also increased the seating and covered areas to keep as much of our hospitality as possible outside.

Based on the guidelines at the time, there may be spaces where you have to wear a mask for the duration or whilst you are walking around the site. We will be led by regulations in place at the time. Medical exemptions will apply.

As of  19 July, we are asking everyone to wear a mask whilst walking around the inside of the hotel and when walking to your seat in the Theakston Old Peculier Tent and the Definitely Digital ballroom. When seated you can remove your mask if you wish.

You may also prefer to wear your mask throughout the site, when queuing or in busier areas.

We are not requesting passports or Covid testing certification at this time.

As part of creating a safe event, we ask you to test before you travel and if you test positive, or are showing any symptoms, or are having to isolate that you do not attend the event.

Based on the current requirements and managing the event safely in terms of numbers, required distancing and additional safety measures including sanitising and people, it is expected a number of measures may be in place:

  • We collect contact details for all ticket bookers and attendees for our events and will have this information, although you may have to ‘check in’ as part of government guidance in place at the time
  • All tickets will be allocated a specific area in which to sit rather than the previous unreserved
  • Everyone on site will have to register and have a relevant ticket

We are liaising directly with all ticket and package bookers with regard to any 2021 booking and ensuring you have the up to date information to assist with your plans for this year.

Our priority is to deliver a live event that is safe at the current time. Events are being recorded and may be used for broadcast on our podcasts in the future.

Tickets are currently on sale at the Festival Office on 01423 562303 or

Tickets will be released in stages in line with the roadmap and guidance from DCMS and our ongoing conversations around safety with our Local Authority, please keep checking back with us for more details and watch socials and e-newsletters for further updates.

This year, everyone on site including in The Old Swan Hotel grounds will need some form of ticket, which will ensure we manage the agreed capacities on site to run a safe event. All tickets must be purchased in advance and they will be released in stages in the coming weeks.

Practically this means we have details for Test and Trace and also ensures that the hotel who run the bars have have sufficient provision for table service as well as sanitising and more practical elements like toilet provision & cleaning.

The site may look and feel a little different this year, and given the inclement weather it may be wise to consider clothes to cover both outdoor wet weather for some areas of the bars as well as to cover the potential for fabulous sunshine including sunscreen.

Cleanliness is next to godliness so please use the sanitiser provided on site.

We are mindful of all the regulations and keeping a careful eye on guidance within the industry and from government and will update these FAQs regularly in the run up to July.

Please contact us if you need to make any changes and refer to any terms and conditions associated with your booking.

Rest assured that the festival will only go ahead if it’s considered safe to do so – the safety of our audiences and authors is paramount to us. If the 2021 festival has to be postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions, ticket holders will have the option to either rollover tickets to 2022 or request a refund.