As if you needed any more reasons to go to Harrogate….



When you come to compiling your Top British Festivals/ Top Literary Festivals/ Best Boutique Festivals etc. kindly consider the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate – celebrating a DECADE OF CRIME this year. It’s the BIGGEST event of its kind in Europe and considered by the crime writing fraternity as their AGM! (albeit over the bar).

Harrogate is a top festival destination (and will be the star backdrop of the Tour De France). Kindly see some killer facts (no pun intended with the crime writing festival) about the town and festivals below.

WHEN: 18 – 21 July 2013


WHERE: The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate.


Harrogate: restorative spas, tranquil gardens, quaint tea shops. Believe us, you’ll need them. Brace yourselves. Cordon off the flower beds, lock your valuables in the hotel safe, and steady the old nerves with a pint of Theakstons finest ale…

Europe’s largest celebration of crime writing reveals a strong female line-up of Special Guest Authors as over 80 authors gather for a long summer weekend.

Val McDermid, who chaired the first ever festival in 2003, returns as Programming Chair of the 2013 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, to mark a ‘Decade of Crime’.

Special Guest authors are Jackson Brodie creator Kate Atkinson, Chief Inspector Wexford author Ruth Rendell interviewed by Jeanette Winterson, Charlaine Harris – whose Southern Vampire Mysteries inspired TV’s True Blood and The Woman in Black’s Susan Hill. Men hold their corner with Inspector Rebus creator, Ian Rankin, award-winning crime novelist and poet, William McIlvanney and Lee Child, whose Jack Reacher novels got the big screen treatment starring Tom Cruise.

The 18th July also sees the return of ‘Creative Thursday’ delivering creative writing and publishing courses and tips direct from acclaimed authors, editors and agents.

Box Office: 01423 562 303

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (there’s no apostrophe and it’s peculier with an ‘e’) is part of the Harrogate International Festivals. Harrogate features a range of festivals including the Summer Festival, Raworths Literature and Lecture Series, Children’s Festival and Fringe (details to be announced for all the above mid-April)


  • Heard of the book Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014? It’s time to GO NORTH! with the North of England’s leading arts festival. The only way is up with our northern soul – last year the Festivals DOUBLED the economic impact on the town to £8.2m despite less than 2% of its income is from the public sector.
  • The Festivals are an UMBRELLA for the arts with a diverse programme delivering over 300 unique events. Come rain or shine, whatever the weather – there’s a Festival for Everyone’s temperament and taste.
  • The Festivals attract 90,000 visitors annually!
  • With Dame Fanny Waterman as its Honorary President and Prince Charles as its patron in a spa town that was home to the Fox acting dynasty’s patriarch – with the once Mayor of Harrogate, Samson Fox – it’s a Festival rolling in heritage.
  • The first Festival was in 1966 in answer to a call by Harold Hyde Walker, Chief Reporter on the Harrogate paper who, since the 1940s, had been urging Harrogate to establish a series of regular concerts and a festival.
  • It’s a platform for launching new talent – as well as giving the likes of Lesley Garrett and Julian Lloyd Webber a platform before they were famous, it also featured Amy Winehouse and cult legends Wynton Marsalis, Van Morrison, Youssou N’Dour, and BB King.
  • 2013’s Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival will have a beer brewed in its honour called ‘A Shot in The Dark’.
  • In 2012 the Harrogate International Festivals outreach and education programmes worked with over 6000 disadvantaged young people in communities across the region.


One of the things that make Harrogate such a boutique, beautiful festival destination is the town itself….

  • Charles Dickens described Harrogate after a visit in 1858 as, “The queerest place with the strangest people in it leading the oddest lives of dancing, newspaper reading and dining”.
  • Agatha Christie famously disappeared in 1926 (her abandoned car triggered the biggest manhunt known to the UK at the time).  She was found in Harrogate. Under a lot of stress she was no doubt swayed by its healing spas, luscious parks, and of course, dancing (she was found in the ballroom of the Old Swan Hotel which is now home to the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival). It’s been charmingly dubbed by a national travel journalist as ‘Doing an Agatha’ (escaping to Harrogate to de-stress!)
  • Mark Cavendish will have the chance to take the 2014 Tour de France leader’s yellow jersey in the town where his mother lives (yep, Harrogate!) after it was announced the first stage of the race will finish in Harrogate.
  • Don’t be fooled by the stereotyped retired ‘Blue Rinse’ little old lady! Harrogate was one of the major towns in the suffragette campaign. Their literature secretary, Agnes Wilson, of 4 Studley Road, Harrogate, travelled to London in March 1912, and took part in the window-smashing campaign, and as a result was sentenced to two months’ hard labour, and went on hunger strike.
  • Harrogate became known for its waters in 1571. By 1700 the town’s expansion was linked to the 88 springs discovered and the fashion of ‘taking the waters’. It’s said to have the highest concentration of different mineral springs than any other town in the world.
  • Visitors included Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill – a visit covered in the Harrogate Advertiser on 1 December 1900 noting the race down Parliament Street in bath chairs, which Churchill described as ‘the charge of the Bath Chair Artillery’.
  • Members of every European royal family have visited Harrogate to take the waters in times gone. Princess Alix Hesse and her sister, Princess Victoria of Battenburg, were regular visitors and amused themselves by racing their bath chairs through the streets of Harrogate.
  • The notorious and great Victorian sex writer, Henry Havelock Ellis researched his taboo book on homosexuality in 1889 in Harrogate; today it a favourite destination of the Beaumont Society Transgender Events – the largest and longest established transgender support group in the UK.
  • Harrogate is known as ‘The Jewel of the North’ and is the ‘Gateway to the Dales’ featuring some of Yorkshire’s top tourist destinations in its region including Fountain’s Abbey, Lightwater Valley, RHS Harlow Carr Gardens and Harewood House.

1 Comment

Filed under General ramblings

One response to “As if you needed any more reasons to go to Harrogate….

  1. Reblogged this on Raven Crime Reads and commented:
    With many thanks to Keith B Walters for putting together this excellent piece. Everything you need to know about the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and the joys of Harrogate!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s