Festival’s great showcase for hotel and town

David Ritson general manager  at The Old Swan.
David Ritson general manager at The Old Swan.

Thousands of people a day will descend on the Old Swan for the four-day Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

General manager David Ritson, his team and the Harrogate International Festivals team have put in months of preparations for the event which starts today.

“It is the hotel’s privilege to be the home of the festival and despite the periods of intense activity as guests arrive and depart the sessions and events the team enjoy the experience.” said Mr Ritson.

The Old Swan in Harrogate town centre was chosen as the venue for the event because of its connections with crime writer Agatha Christie.

It was there that Christie famously disappeared in 1926, resulting in a, 11-day public furore.

Hundreds of staff – from catering to housekeeping – will be on hand. “The use of the outdoor space has been the real benefit in recent times,” said Mr Ritson. “As the event grows we have been able to utilise the gardens and this year registration is outside in one of the sperry tents which frees up space inside for guests.”

Among the visiting authors this year are John Grisham and Don Winslow who were lured to the festival by this year’s chairman, bestselling writer Lee Child.

“When I look at the throngs of people and all of the frenetic activity at the event there is an immense sense of pride.

“The gardens and tents look amazing, it’s a great showcase for both the hotel and Harrogate,” said Mr Ritson.

Guests’ favourite tipple? Old Peculier, of course.