The greatest crime festival in the world?

John Connelly.
John Connelly.

Crime is ‘the genre that just won’t die’. And yet in all the sex, violence and corruption - and that’s just in the bar - there’s always a surprising twist: crime authors are some of the nicest people you’ll meet.

2012 is the tenth anniversary of the annual crime writing spree that’s now attained cult status and a huge following thanks to the sheer number of authors that flock to the festival known for its riotous sense of fun.

Sharon Canavar, CEO of the Harrogate International Festivals, said: “The success has to be down to the brilliant programming committee. The first festival launched in 2003 with Val MacDermid as the programming chair. It was her vision that made our event so brilliant.”

In 2004, a perfect partner in crime was found thanks to one of Yorkshire’s finest beers – Theakstons. The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival might be a bit of a mouthful, especially after a pint or two, but it has proved to be one of the best crime partnerships. As well as Val, Mark Billingham, this year’s chair, has helped shape the success of the festival. He’s bringing some of the biggest names to town including special guests Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson, John Connolly, Kate Moss, Harlan Coben, Jo Nesbo and Peter James.

The event is also home to the next crime wave of authors with its in-demand creative writing programme and the New Blood panel which last year featured SJ Watson, whose debut Before I Go to Sleep has since smashed the bestseller list. Watson is now one of the shortlisted novelists for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, in partnership with Asda and in association with the Daily Mirror.

You can join in the crime world’s version of The Oscars tonight, Thursday at the Old Swan Hotel as BBC Radio 4’s Mark Lawson announces the winner from a shortlist - John Connolly, Denise Mina, Chris Brookmyre, SJ Bolton and one of Leeds best kept secrets, author Steve Mosby. Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse, will be honoured with the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.

For more info, visit or buy tickets on the door (please note, many special guest events are sold out).