Vaseem Khan named 2023 Programming Chair

plus Special Guests announced for the

20th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival

Special Guests at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival

Harrogate International Festivals is thrilled to reveal the Festival Programming Chair and Special Guests as the world’s largest and most prestigious celebration of crime fiction, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2023.

Multi award-winning crime novelist Vaseem Khan will be acting as this year’s Festival Programming Chair, following in the footsteps of Ian Rankin, Elly Griffiths, Denise Mina, and Lee Child. Vaseem is known for his Baby Ganesh Agency series set in modern Mumbai and the Malabar House historical crime novels set in 1950s Bombay. When he isn’t writing, Vaseem works at the Department of Security and Crime Science at University College London and hosts the popular crime fiction podcast, The Red Hot Chilli Writers.

Special guests on this year’s incredible programme, curated by Vaseem with the programming committee, include icons of the crime fiction world, Val McDermid, Lee Child, Andrew Child, Lisa Jewell, Ruth Ware, Ann Cleeves, Jeffery Deaver, Lucy Worsley, S. A. Cosby and Chris Hammer.

From 20 – 23 July 2023, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival will return to Harrogate for the 20th time, bringing together some of the world’s most popular crime and thriller writers to discuss all things crime fiction to mark a momentous occasion in the literary calendar.

The award-winning Festival offers an international audience the opportunity to discover the next big names in crime fiction and hear giants of the genre discuss their work, as part of a programme made up of thrilling panels, inspiring creative workshops, and unique talks.

This year, Festival Programming Chair Vaseem Khan will be speaking with festival favourite and author of the much-loved Vera series Ann Cleeves, while festival co-founder Val McDermid will open the 2023 Festival with an unmissable in conversation event, as well as hosting the highly anticipated showcase of the four debut crime writers to watch in the New Blood panel.

Two global bestselling thriller writers join forces as Lisa Jewell will introduce her new nail-biting suspense None of This is True with author of The It Girl and In A Dark, Dark Wood  Ruth Ware; “Southern noir” author of international hit Razorblade Tears S. A. Cosby and mastermind behind young detective Nell Buchanan Chris Hammer will be in conversation; historian Lucy Worsley will be revealing more about the life of the Queen of Crime and former resident of the Old Swan Hotel, Agatha Christie; crime writing brothers, Lee Child and Andrew Child will discuss collaborating on the iconic Jack Reacher, and Jeffery Deaver, author of the bestselling Lincoln Rhyme series will be returning to the festival to talk about the latest Colter Shaw thriller, Hunting Time.

Vaseem Khan, award-winning bestselling author of the Baby Ganesh Agency series and the Malabar House novels, said: “My late father and I used to watch Poirot together. Neither of us could have imagined that, decades later, I would chair a Festival so closely connected to Agatha Christie. It is a privilege and a delight to chair the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, doubly so as the first British Asian crime writer to do so, triply so to take the helm of the world’s most important crime festival in its twentieth anniversary year. Working with the amazing Festival team, we have brought together an Avengers Assemble line-up of crime writers, showcasing the broad and bloody church that crime fiction represents. If you love the genre, you’d be (criminally) insane to miss it.”

Sharon Canavar, Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals, commented: “2023 marks 20 years since the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival first launched in Harrogate and what a wonderful two decades it has been! Every year the Festival has brought together some of the best names in crime writing and this year is no exception. It has been a brilliant experience working with Vaseem, who has curated a programme that truly celebrates this special moment in our history. We look forward to announcing the full programme in the coming months and we cannot wait to welcome one and all to what will be the best Festival yet!”

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakston Ltd, added: “It has been a joy to support the world’s best crime writing Festival over the past 20 years. We have had the pleasure of hearing from crime writing legends as well as outstanding new voices and I am thoroughly looking forward to gathering once more to mark this momentous occasion over a pint of Old Peculier!”

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival forms part of the diverse year-round portfolio curated by the charitable organisation Harrogate International Festivals, delivered with the mission to bring immersive cultural experiences to as many people as possible.

Classic weekend break packages are on sale now. For more information and to book tickets, please call +44(0)1423 562 303 or email

The full programme for this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival will be announced in Spring 2022. More information about ticket options can be found here.