Bloody Scotland Festival lights up Stirling

Stirling is celebrating the success of this year's Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival, with book fans, authors and the media packing into the city over three days.  

Bloody Scotland torchlit procession through the streets of Stirling
The iconic Bloody Scotland torchlit procession in Stirling

Venues across Stirling, including the Albert Halls and The Tolbooth, welcomed audiences from around the world for the much-loved literary festival which is now in its 11th year. 

Following the opening reception in the Church of the Holy Rude on Friday evening (15 Sep), the fabulous Stirling and District Schools Pipe Band led the 400-strong torchlit procession through the cobbled streets to the Albert Halls.

It was then time for the winners of the McIlvanney Prize (debut author Callum McSorley with Squeaky Clean) and the Bloody Scotland Debut Prize (Kate Foster with The Maiden) to be presented with their awards at the venue. For the first time ever there were eight events prior to the torchlit procession.

Highlights of the festival always include the fringe activities. The sun shone for the Bloody Scotland England v Scotland crime writers football match at Kings Park which was won emphatically by Scotland 12-3, and at night the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers returned to the Bloody Scotland stage ‘murdering songs for fun’.

In terms of sales the most popular event was Rob Rinder and Nadine Matheson closely followed by Val McDermid and Abir Mukherjee, and the festival closed on a complete high with an outstanding Pitch Perfect panel which was won by Shane McGinley who had travelled all the way from Dubai to pitch his book.

Craig Russell and Liam McIlvanney headlined the final event in the Albert Halls, and a rammed panel celebrating Scottish crime writers took place in The Golden Lion ballroom with J D Kirk, Marion Todd and Colin Macintyre. Their event finished at 2pm and the signing queue was still going an hour later.


Bob McDevitt, Festival Director said: "I'm a tired but very happy man at the end of another action-packed Bloody Scotland weekend.

"The rain didn't dampen the spirits of the Torchlit parade - in fact, some people said it only made it more atmospheric! It really was such a pleasure to see the streets of Stirling once again taken over by the Bloody Scotland army of authors and readers united in the goal of a rip-roaring and riotous good time."

Success story

Stirling Council Leader, Cllr Chris Kane said: "The 2023 Bloody Scotland Festival proved to be another success story for Stirling as we welcomed visitors from around the world for one of our much-loved major events.

"Readers turned out in great numbers at our venues, including Stirling’s Albert Halls, to hear and interact with their favourite authors at a wide range of events, before moving on to our hotels, bars and restaurants to continue discussions of murder, mayhem, suspense and intrigue.

"On the evidence of this year’s festival, no cryptic clues are needed to prove that Stirling is a superb setting for major events. A huge thanks to everyone involved in organising such a world-class festival and congratulations to all the prize winners."

Stirling Council Leader, Cllr Chris Kane, and Provost Douglas Dodds ahead of the torchlit procession
Stirling Council Leader, Cllr Chris Kane, and Provost Douglas Dodds ahead of the torchlit procession.

Pre-eminent crime writing festivals in the world

Bestselling author, Fun Lovin’ Crime Writer and former England football captain, Mark Billingham said: "Bloody Scotland remains one of the pre-eminent crime festivals in the world. Brilliantly organised with an amazing line-up of authors and thoughtfully curated events. It’s an unmissable weekend."

Well worth it

Pitch Perfect winner and first time attendee, Shane McGinley said: "When Mark Billingham was in Dubai I went to his signing and I asked him for advice on getting an agent. He recommended applying for Pitch Perfect so I Googled it and applied this year.

"When I arrived in Stirling the staff of Bloody Scotland were so helpful with introductions to authors, press and industry people. I also spent a good amount of time in the Golden Lion bar and met some lovely crime authors and bloggers. Winning was a total surprise and proves making the 5,000 or more mile trip was well worth it."

The Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival will return to Stirling from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 September 2024.

The opening reception at the Church of the Holy Rude
Book fans and authors packed into the opening reception at the Church of the Holy Rude.

Stirling and District Schools Pipe Band lead the torchlit procession from Stirling Castle.
Stirling and District Schools Pipe Band lead the procession from Stirling Castle.