Stirling shines as it stages the biggest ever Bloody Scotland festival

Bloody Scotland Stirling

Bloody Scotland walk
Bloody Scotland 2022

Another chapter was added to Stirling's success story for hosting major events after the city staged the biggest ever Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival.

Visitors and writers from across the world descended on Stirling for the 10th anniversary of the globally-renowned literary celebration over four days (15-18 Sept) last week as the festival returned to full strength for the first time in three years following the pandemic.

The growing popularity of the festival saw it extend its run by an extra day and double the number of events on previous years, with audiences packing into venues across Stirling, including the iconic Albert Halls and The Tolbooth.

Provost Douglas Dodds helped formally open the festival last Thursday before joining the traditional torchlight procession of writers, officials and the public, which weaved its way down from Stirling Castle – a dramatic spectacle that signalled the start of the bumper programme.

In addition to the headliners, the festival welcomed the likes of Sir Ian Rankin, Anthony Horowitz, Jeffrey Archer, Ann Cleeves and Frankie Boyle to Stirling.

Best-selling authors Val McDermid, David Baldacci, Sara Paretsky, Donna Leon and Irvine Welsh all held live digital sessions which could be viewed by audiences around the world as well as in person.

The prestigious McIlvanney Prize – that recognises excellence in Scottish crime writing – was awarded to Alan Parks for his novel May God Forgive, while the winner of the Bloody Scotland Debut Prize went to Tariq Ashkanani with Welcome to Cooper.

In terms of ticket sales, the introduction of digital ticketing takes the 2022 audience 40% above the audience figures in 2019.

Stirling really felt alive with culture

Convenor of Stirling Council’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee, Cllr Gerry McGarvey, said: “It was wonderful to have Bloody Scotland back in Stirling at full strength for its 10th anniversary following the pandemic.

“Starting with the spectacular torchlight procession, Stirling really felt alive with culture as visitors, fans, writers and residents mingled in our hotels, bars and restaurants and attended the diverse range of events on offer.

“Fans turned out in tremendous numbers at venues in the city to hear from some of the world’s best-loved authors and the next wave of crime-writing talent, sparking discussion and hopefully inspiring more to become storytellers in this genre.

“If you piece it all together, there is a clear trail of evidence as to why Bloody Scotland is becoming more internationally renowned and why Stirling is such a superb setting for major events. 

“Congratulations to all the prize winners and a huge thanks to everyone involved in organising such an excellent and diverse festival.”

Raises the profile of Stirling

On October 20, Stirling will host another exciting cultural event when the Scottish Album of the Year Award ceremony takes place at the Albert Halls for the first time.

Cllr McGarvey added: “Staging major events raises the profile of Stirling to a wide audience, brings people together and delivers a significant economic boost to the area. Following two years of covid disruption, it’s absolutely fantastic to have them back in our beautiful city and outstanding venues again.”

The Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival will return to Stirling from Friday 15 to Sunday 17 September 2023.

Background info:

The McIlvanney Prize recognises excellence in Scottish crime writing, includes a prize of £1000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones. Previous winners are Craig Russell with Hyde in 2021, Francine Toon with Pine in 2020, Manda Scott with A Treachery of Spies in 2019 (who chose to share her prize with all the finalists), Liam McIlvanney with The Quaker in 2018, Denise Mina with The Long Drop 2017, Chris Brookmyre with Black Widow 2016, Craig Russell with The Ghosts of Altona in 2015, Peter May with Entry Island in 2014, Malcolm Mackay with How A Gunman Says Goodbye in 2013 and Charles Cumming with A Foreign Country in 2012.

Main picture shows the torchlight procession making its way from Stirling Castle down to the Albert Halls.