It’s Crime Time

Val McDermid will be at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2023

It’s Crime Time

The world’s largest crime writing festival descends on Harrogate this weekend with guests from authors and speakers from across the world arriving into town.

Over 17,000 tickets have now been sold for this home grown event, produced by the Harrogate International Festivals, and it is said that more beer is sold every hour at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival than at a wedding.

2023 Festival Chair, award winning crime and thriller author Vaseem Khan, has curated a ground-breaking programme. Alongside the special guests headlining the Festival, including literary legends Lee Child, Andrew Child, Lisa Jewell, Ruth Ware, Ann Cleeves, Jeffery Deaver, Lucy Worsley, S. A. Cosby, Val McDermid, and Chris Hammer, the full programme contains some of the biggest names in crime fiction.

Exploring everything from the perfect murderous opening, police procedurals and dark obsessions to legal thrillers and the golden age of crime, this year’s 20th anniversary programme will see a variety of acclaimed crime and thriller authors discussing the genre and influences on their writing, including Janice Hallett, Shari Lapena, Louise Candlish, Abir Mukherjee, Steve Cavanagh, Elly Griffiths, Ragnar Jónasson, Clare Mackintosh, Mick Herron, Will Dean, Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Chris Brookmyre, and many more!

This year’s Festival also includes two ‘who dunnit?’ themed author dinners, giving a unique opportunity for crime fans to get to know authors in a fun and informal environment. Richard Armitage, Stuart Neville, David Hewson, Emma Christie, Steph Broadribb, Alex Dahl, Greg Mosse, Leigh Russell, S.E. Lynes and many others will partake in a murder mystery with a twist!

The all-star line-up of events includes the return of Val McDermid’s New Blood panel, celebrating four brilliant debut crime writers, and the popular Late-Night Quiz, hosted by McDermid and Mark Billingham, armed with trivia, titles and tricks to test the knowledge of crime fiction fanatics.

Awards, Prizes & Parties

The Festival opens with the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Awards, including the prestigious Crime Novel of the Year – now in its 19th year – celebrating crime fiction at its very best, with this year’s shortlist taking readers on spine-tingling journeys of murder, stalking, ghosts, mysterious disappearances and much more. Selected with help from a public vote from a longlist of twenty novels to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, the list features newcomers and previous prize contenders alike – but none of this year’s shortlisted novelists have ever taken home the coveted award before, making this year’s competition even more tense…

Who will take the title? Six shortlisted authors will put their game face on as Master of Ceremony Mark Lawson presents the murderously good line up.

The six novels shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2023 are:

  • The Botanist by M.W. Craven
  • Into The Dark by Fiona Cummins
  • The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths
  • Black Hearts by Doug Johnstone
  • Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister
  • The It Girl by Ruth Ware

 20 years in Thanks and Facts:

Who would have thought a planning meeting in Harrogate back in Autumn 2002 would have yielded the behemoth that Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is today?

Well, if you take a look at who was around the table, it’s probably no surprise….Val McDermid, Jane Gregory, Maria Rejt and Jane Bradish-Ellames for starters. The minutes of the original meeting read like an action packed to-do list of famous celebrity friends, practical suggestions and a clear vision for the future.

Twenty years on the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is a key part of our year-round programme with the stories from the Festival itself as myriad as the stories told on the page by our writers.

Now know as the ‘Glastonbury of Crime’ or the ‘Hay of the Crime World’ the success of this busy weekend in the Festival’s calendar is down to the generosity of so many people who have helped to make the dream of becoming the UK’s number one crime writing event come to fruition.

  • Our title sponsor has been with us since 2004, helping the Festival grow and ensuring the world knows that a pint of Theakston Old Peculier is just like a good crime novel.
  • The most popular event each year is the New Blood platform which champions debut authors and the bestsellers of the future, programmed by the watchful eye of Val McDermid.
  • Creative Thursday, our masterclass and workshops for aspiring writers as yielded a host of successful authors including Mari Hannah and Joseph Knox.
  • In 2003, we sold 3,500 tickets, in 2023 we will sell an estimated 17,000 tickets.
  • Ann Cleeves was our very first Reader in Residence in 2003, putting the readers at the heart of our work. Mysterious Words created reading groups in pubs and Kids, Spies and Private Eyes engages children in writing using blood splatter and science to engage reluctant writers.
  • The Big Read is the north of England’s biggest book club and our Reader in Residence tours libraries with a host of events to celebrate our chosen title. This year, we celebrate Ann Cleeves and The Long Call.
  • The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival has attracted international visitors from our very first year, with over 5% of all visitors now travelling from outside the UK to attend.
  • The Festival programmes over 120 crime authors each year onto the Harrogate stage.
  • The Festival Office sell over 30% of all bedstock in Harrogate for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival weekend, the Kuoni of Crime!
  • Created at the very start of the pandemic, HIF Player is the Festival’s online Festival, created thanks to recordings of all the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival that had been stored for nearly 20 years, remastered to become the perfect podcast.