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Visitors check in from around the world to attend a criminally good time at Granite Noir

Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin during this year's Granite Noir.
Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin during this year's Granite Noir.

Aberdeen’s celebrated crime fiction festival welcomed guests from across the globe this weekend on its entirely virtual debut.

Forced to take their show online this year due to coronavirus restrictions, thousands tuned in to catch some the best international and home-grown talent speak at the Granite Noir festival.

It offered both live and pre-recorded author conversations, panel discussions, creative workshops, and events for young people – all of which were free to view.

Jane Spiers, chief executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts.

Jane Spiers, chief executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts, said: “Taking Granite Noir online was a great leap of faith, and I am so proud of our team, and everybody who worked so hard to livestream the festival to a worldwide online audience.”

Alongside talks by authors and podcasters, stories behind some of the early 19th and early 20th century criminal mugshots held in the Aberdeenshire Archives were also told in a dedicated webinar.

Ms Spiers added: “While we missed welcoming audiences and authors to our city, and our wonderful venues, and very much hope that we will be able to gather together in person in 2022, our global reach this year was extraordinary.

“We can’t wait to get back to live performance, to welcoming our authors and our audiences to Aberdeen, but suddenly it no longer feels like an either or.”

Thought to have been viewed live by more than 14,000 people, organisers expect that number to continue to rise as it can now be watched on demand.

Produced by Aberdeen Performing Arts with the help of partners, Aberdeen Library Service, Aberdeen City and Shire Archives and the Belmont Filmhouse, organisers have dubbed this years’ outing a huge success.

This year viewers could tune into talks with some of the industries biggest names such as Jo Nesbo, Camilla Läckberg and Scottish staples of the event including Peter May, Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin.

With this weekend marking the fifth annual outing for the festival, a special deep dive into true crime podcasting with Isla Traquair and Candice Gaines, and Val McDermid joining the Backlisted Podcast was hosted to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of Josephine Tey was also on offer.

Paul Bush OBE, director of events at VisitScotland, said: “We are delighted at the success of this year’s digital edition of Granite Noir. Events are a force for good as they sustain livelihoods and bring social and economic change.

“It’s great to see that despite these unprecedented times, the Aberdeen Performing Arts has managed to deliver a fantastic three-day online programme that perfectly capturing the spirit of this unique event by, bringing together audiences from across the globe to enjoy the very best of national and international crime literary talent.”

Met with universal praise, two years ago the festival even boasted an evening with self-confessed crime fan and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokeswoman added: “The global viewing figures for our fabulous crime fiction festival are nothing short of phenomenal and it’s amazing how this year, in overcoming the restrictions of Covid-19, we have actually managed to extend our reach not only in terms of our innovative worldwide broadcast locations but spread of the viewing audience too; building on Granite Noir’s growing reputation and welcoming the world to Aberdeen.

“It just goes to show that you can’t keep a good – or in our case, great – festival down and Granite Noir just keeps going from strength to strength.”

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