Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival announces guest line-up, curated by Ian Rankin


Harrogate International Festivals have announced the killer Special Guest line-up for the world’s largest and most prestigious celebration of crime fiction, Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

The legendary long weekend will be the first major literary event to take place physically following the Government’s expected lifting of restrictions in June, with the great and criminally good from the crime writing world returning to Harrogate’s Old Swan Hotel from 22 – 25 July 2021.

Festival Programming Chair – Rebus author Ian Rankin OBE – has curated a stellar line-up of Special Guests, featuring producer and presenter Richard Osman with the second instalment in his record-breaking cosy crime caper The Thursday Murder Club series; espionage expert Mick Herron, author of the highly acclaimed Slough House series; mystery maestro Elly Griffiths and her latest Ruth Galloway whodunnit; fan favourite Vera and Shetland author Ann Cleeves; the masterful Mark Billingham with his Tom Thorne prequel Cry Baby;  and the undisputed ‘Queen of Crime’, Val McDermid.

The festivities will continue with four days of unmissable talks and panels from crime writing royalty – such as the queens of domestic noir Clare Mackintosh and CL Taylor in conversation – alongside the most exciting new voices including McDermid’s highly anticipated New Blood panel, showcasing the most dynamic debuts.

Weekend break packages will go on sale on Monday 7 June. For further information about how Harrogate International Festivals will deliver a safe Festival in line with the government regulations at the time, please visit

Ian Rankin, best-selling Rebus author, said:

After a year of once-in-a-lifetime challenges, I couldn’t be more excited to stage this celebration of all things crime! With the announcement of our Special guests, the countdown is officially on to this year’s festival and I’m looking forward to unveiling what else we have in store!


Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals, Sharon Canavar, said:

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is a lynch-pin in the publishing calendar – an annual pilgrimage for crime fiction aficionados – and we are thrilled to reveal the first taste of this year’s unmissable programme. Harrogate International Festivals has long pioneered innovative and unique cultural experiences, and over the course of the past year we have shown great flexibility and creativity to continue with this mission. The team will, of course, carefully monitor developments to Government rules and regulations as we look forward to our return to the legendary Old Swan Hotel in July.


Simon Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston, said:

We are always so proud to support the biggest and best crime writing festival in the world. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming the best of best in crime – along with their enthusiastic fans – to Harrogate this summer, to hear from world-renowned storytellers with a glass of Old Peculier in hand.

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.

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