Revealed: Ian Rankin's special guests at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate for July 2021

The first special guests headlining Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2021 – as curated by Festival Programming Chair Ian Rankin OBE – have been announced.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 8:30 am
Ian Rankin OBE - Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival's Programming Chair for 2021 in Harrogate.

Hailed by bestselling author Lee Child as "the best crime writing festival in the world", this legendary long weekend will be the first major literary event to take place physically following the Government’s expected lifting of restrictions on June 21, with the great and criminally good from the crime writing world returning to Harrogate’s Old Swan Hotel from July 22-25.

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2021 line-up includes:

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Producer and presenter Richard Osman with the second instalment in his record-breaking cosy crime caper The Thursday Murder Club seriesl

Espionage expert Mick Herron, author of the highly acclaimed Slough House seriesl

Mystery maestro Elly Griffiths and her latest Ruth Galloway whodunnitl

Fan favourite Vera and Shetland author Ann Cleevesl

The masterful Mark Billingham with his Tom Thorne prequel Cry Babyl


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.

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!"

Weekend break packages will go on sale from Monday, June 7.

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.”

For further information about how Harrogate International Festivals will deliver a safe Festival in line with the government regulations at the time, please visit

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