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Nine highlights and must-sees at this year’s Granite Noir festival in Aberdeen

Although the festival has already kickstarted, it is not too late to immerse yourself in criminal dramatisations, thrilling talks or challenging workshops.

Two bar tender shaking cocktails at The Terrace at His Majesty's Theatre (HMT).
Dr Kathryn Harkup is back with her cocktail event Shaken Not Stirred at His Majesty's Theatre for Granite Noir. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

For those wanting to dive into the murky world of thrills, kills and crime, there is a broad range of opportunities during Granite Noir.

As the award-winning festival returns with its longest-running schedule yet, those who know the criminal minds best will be sharing their thoughtful and at times, chilling insights.

Hosted in Aberdeen between February 20 and 25, this year organisers said there is something for all readers to enjoy.

Scots Champion, writer and Aberdeen University lecturer Shane Strachan is hosting a creative writing workshop and also a spoken poetry word night for this year’s festival.

Shane Strachan holding an open book and smiling at the camera.
Shane Strachan is a lecturer at Aberdeen University. Image: Neil Hanna.

After last year’s success, the event Into the Dark on Friday, February 23 with Hanna Lavery has been moved to a bigger venue at the Lemon Tree.

Featuring other poets, Shane said it is something a little bit fun and different.

He added: “Granite Noir is originally a crime writing festival and to include poetry and spoken word is kind of unusual, the festival has evolved quite a lot.”

Chance to try something different

The diversifying of different events also gives writers and speakers a chance to engage with new audiences for the first time.

“Some people take a chance on coming to a spoken word event when they normally wouldn’t,” he added.

“The audience reaction last year was great. I still have people come up to me saying ‘I really liked that event last year, are you doing something similar?’

“I think it’s that way of blurring the lines between different bubbles of activity when it comes to literary scenes and different types of readers and audiences and demographics that wouldn’t mix normally.”

Must-see events at Granite Noir 2024

Although the festival has already begun, there are still lots of events to take in. Here are our nine highlights.

Twelve Angry Men

The cast of Twelve Angry Men
The production is set to come to His Majesty’s Theatre from February 20 to 24. Image: Jack Merriman.

Based on the 1957 three-time Academy Award-nominated film, Twelve Angry Men brings the “must-see” great to the stage at HMT from Tuesday, February 20 to Saturday February 24. 

Filled with tension and emotion, Reginald Rose’s gripping courtroom thriller stars Jason Merrells from Casualty and Emmerdale and Tristan Gemmill from Coronation Street and Casualty.

Scared to Death

A close up of an eye for Scared to Death.
The new production tells the story of an infamous murder from Aberdeen and the pivotal role of forensics in solving it. Image: Aberdeen Performing Arts.

Ten Feet Tall Theatre explores the details of a historic crime that shook Aberdeen when the lifeless body of a child was discovered.

Held at The Anatomy Rooms from Thursday February 22 to Sunday February 25, learn more about the meticulous investigation which marked a pivotal moment for forensics in the justice system.

The Makings of a Murderer with David Swindle

David Swindle
David Swindle is hosting The Makings of a Murderer. Image: Aberdeen Performing Arts

With 34 years as a senior detective under his belt, the man who caught serial killer Peter Tobin, David Swindle, will be sharing a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes of murder investigations.

Hosted at the Music Hall on Thursday February 22, the Scottish detective will be dispensing some of his unique insight into the minds of murderers and the famous cases that remain unsolved.

Gunpowder, Tattoos and Transportation: Aberdeen’s Inked Convicts

Granite Noir design for tattoo exhibition
The free exhibition is on display at the Music Hall. Image: Aberdeen Performing Arts.

Running from Tuesday February 20 to Sunday February 25 this free exhibition at the Music Hall is delving into the world of tattooing and criminals.

It explores the history and meanings of the distinctive tattoos on some of the city’s most notorious criminals with a particular focus on the Perth Prison Register and Register of Returned Convicts held within the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.

Cocktails – Shaken not Stirred

Three women smiling with their cocktails.
Participants will have the chance to learn over cocktails. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Join Kathryn Harkup as she explores the exploits of Ian Fleming’s James Bond in The Terrace at HMT from Friday February 23 to Saturday February 24. She covers the practicalities of building a volcano-based lair and whether being covered in gold paint really will kill you all over a few glasses of 007’s favourite cocktails.

Marie Cassidy in Conversation

Dr Marie Cassidy with arms crossed looking at the camera.
Dr Marie Cassidy. Image: Paul Stewart.

Scot Dr Marie Cassidy became known as a trusted figure whose expertise helped to solve murders in her career as Ireland’s first female state pathologist. Following the release of her memoir, Marie has published her debut novel called Body of Truth.

Together with Alex Gray on Saturday, February 24 at the Music Hall, she unpacks her career and her own page-turning thriller.

Bold New Voices

Adam Oyebanji
Adam Oyebanji is one of the authors speaking at the event.

Three emerging authors from independent presses come together on stage at the Lemon Tree on Saturday February 24.

Chaired by Jacky Collins, audiences will be able to learn more about and explore Adam Oyebanji’s first mystery novel A Quiet Teacher, Briar Ripley Page’s chilling The False Sister and Scottish speculative writer Maud Woolf’s Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock.

Queen of Codes

A finger taping on a code machine
Jackie Uí Chionna delves into the untold story of codebreaker Emily Anderson. Image: Leon McGowran/ Deadline

When exploring the history of British codebreaking, it can be surprising to learn the majority of codebreakers were in fact, women. Join Jackie Uí Chionna as she shares the story of one of the world’s most secretive codebreakers, Emily Anderson.

Lisa Jewell in Conversation

Author Lisa Jewell
Author Lisa Jewell. Image: Aberdeen Performing Arts.

Best-selling crime author Lisa Jewell will be discussing the twists and turns in her latest release None of This is True on Sunday February 25.

Joined at the Music Hall by journalist and broadcaster, Alex Clark, the pair will be chatting about toxic relationships, manipulation and family secrets.