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All you need to know about Aberdeen’s crime-writing festival Granite Noir

granite noir aberdeen
Granite Noir is Aberdeen's crime-writing festival which has become a cultural staple.

With a healthy dose of mystery, music, crime and cocktails, Granite Noir will return to Aberdeen later this week. Here’s all you need to know about the crime-writing festival.

What is Granite Noir?

Inspired by the popularity of crime fiction in all its forms, Granite Noir is a crime-writing festival that celebrates the contribution of Scottish writers.

Now in its sixth year, the festival also aims to “explore the darkness within and around us with fascinating authors from near and far”.

Aberdeen Performing Arts’s chief executive, Jane Spiers, said: “With true heavyweights of the genre next to the bold new voices of the future, we have a jam-packed weekend of events in store which really reflect the festival’s firm north-east roots, as well as attracting an international fanbase who return year after year to join us for what is a true celebration of crime fiction.

“Since its inception, Granite Noir has really captured imaginations, and with author talks, exhibitions music and of course cocktails to enjoy, it would be a crime to miss it.”

Granite Noir Aberdeen
Jane Spiers – chief executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts which is behind Granite Noir.

When will the festival take place?

Granite Noir will return to Aberdeen from Thursday February 24 to Sunday February 27 to entertain, excite and inspire crime fiction fans with a full programme of live, in-person events, workshops and performances.

Which venues will host events this year?

The festival will introduce audiences to interesting and quirky spaces across the city which this year include Music Hall, Cowdray Hall, the Kirk of Saint Nicholas as well as the Central Library and The Lemon Tree.

Which authors will take part in the celebration of crime fiction?

  • Louise Welsh is a best-selling Scottish author who will introduce The Second Cut, the brand-new and long-awaited sequel to her award-winning The Cutting Room.
  • Ann Cleeves – the creator of popular detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Pere – will be joined by Alex Gray and Lin Anderson in a conversation chaired by Jenny Brown.
granite noir aberdeen
Ann Cleeves is one of the authors appearing at Granite Noir in Aberdeen.
  • Anthropologist Professor Dame Sue Black and Professor Andrew Doig will come together in an exploration of The Mysteries of Life and Death.
  • Denise Mina will shed light on the death of David Rizzio.
  • Jenni Fagan will examine the obsessive mania of a king who saw the threat of witches all around him.
  • S W Perry is going to look back to the sixteenth century with The Heretic’s Mark as does The Green Lady, Sue Lawrence’s tale of abduction and political turmoil set within Aberdeenshire’s Fyvie Castle.
  • Leonora Nattrass shall dive into the revolutionary intrigue of 18th century London.
  • Sara Sheridan will explain why she set her mystery in The Fair Botanists in and around Edinburgh’s botanical gardens in 1822.
Scottish crime writer and playwright Denise Mina.

Will any local authors be featured?

Yes, ‘Locals in the Limelight’ will return with six of Aberdeenshire’s talented new writers reading extracts from their noir fiction. For anyone who has ever dreamed about becoming a published author, award-winning literary agent Jenny Brown will also host a workshop on How To Get Published, covering everything from self-publishing to how to get yourself an agent.

Can I look forward to seeing any crime plays?

Yes. Theatre fans can choose from two crime-inspired theatre productions.

The Hound of the Baskervilles @ His Majesty’s Theatre (Tuesday February 22 – Saturday February 26)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most celebrated adventure will get a brilliantly farcical overhaul in Lotte Wakeham’s acclaimed production. World-renowned detective Sherlock Holmes and his colleague Dr Watson will try to unravel the mystery surrounding the untimely death of Sir Charles Baskerville.

The three-member cast of The Hound of the Baskervilles will wow Aberdeen audiences with theatrical ingenuity.

Witch Hunt @ Kirk of St Nicholas (Wednesday February 25 – Sunday February 27)

Delving into Aberdeen’s past, the performance brings women accused of witchcraft in the 16th and 17th centuries back to life to tell their stories in the atmospheric setting of Kirk of Saint Nicholas. Produced by local theatre company Ten Feet Tall, the new production was specially created for Granite Noir.

What about art exhibitions?

The Grit in the Granite is a new free exhibition from Aberdeen City & Aberdeenshire Archives in the Music Hall and The Lemon Tree.

When Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837, Aberdeen was on the verge of major expansion. The population more than doubled and many impressive granite buildings were built.

However, there was also a much darker side to the city and this exhibition provides a glimpse of how the grinding poverty experienced by a section of the population led to destitution, juvenile delinquency, crime and prostitution.

granite noir aberdee
The Grit in the Granite exhibition will also focus on ‘juvenile delinquent’ Grace McIntosh who was transported to Tasmania when she was young and returned to Aberdeen years later to fall into a life of prostitution and petty crime.

Any other in-person events?

Some of our favourite events also include…

Cocktails – Shaken Not Stirred @ Music Hall (February 26)

Dr Kathryn Harkup will follow her sold-out 2020 Poisoned Cocktail workshop with a look at the reality behind the silly, and not so silly, ways to die in the world of 007. Audiences can lift the lid on the science behind the world’s most popular secret agent and sample his favourite cocktails along the way.

BBC Big Band: Criminal Tunes @ Music Hall (Sunday February 27)

BBC Big Band will return to Aberdeen with a specially curated programme of classic TV and movie soundtracks, from Shaft, Mission Impossible, James Bond, The Pink Panther and more to classic Big Band and swing numbers inspired by all things crime.

Bad People Podcast Recording @ The Lemon Tree (Friday February 25)

Award-winning true-crime podcast Bad People is coming to Granite Noir to record an episode in front of a live audience. Dr Julia Shaw and comedian Sofie Hagen will share gripping stories with Aberdeen audiences.

Comedian Sofie Hagen, who will be part of the Aberdeen International Comedy Festival, will also appear at Granite Noir to record her podcast Bad People with Dr Julia Shaw.

Will there also be any online events?

Yes, seven Granite Noir events will be livestreamed. These will include:

  • Brilliant Women – Three brilliant authors – Ann Cleeves, Lin Anderson and Alex Gray – will share the stage to talk about their books (Friday February 25).
  • Cold Blooded Scandi – Granite Noir will welcome a panel of Scandinavian writers. Anders de la Motte, Silje Ulstein and Kjell Ola Dahl will take part in the online event (Sunday February 27).
  • The Power of the Past –  Denise Mina and Jenni Fagan will explore some of Scotland’s most murky history in this live-streamed event chaired by Alex Clark (Saturday February 26).

Do I need to buy tickets?

Yes. Tickets can be booked at, by calling 01224 641122 and in person from the box office at the Music Hall and His Majesty’s Theatre.

granite noir aberdeen
BBC Big Band will be playing Criminal Tunes as part of Granite Noir.

Who is behind Granite Noir?

Granite Noir is produced by Aberdeen Performing Arts on behalf of partners Belmont Filmhouse, Aberdeen City Libraries and Aberdeen City & Aberdeenshire Archives.

Click here for more information about the festival.

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