Gwyl Crime Cymru Festival, 2021/22

Wales’ First Crime Fiction Festival is on its way and it’d be a crime to miss it!

Get your diaries out and your little grey cells ready to do some work. Wales’s very first crime fiction festival kicks off in 2021 with its own brand of murder, mystery and mayhem. Over the weekend of April 29 – May 2, Gwyl Crime Cymru is bringing armchair detectives their first opportunity to enjoy a Wales’ based crime festival absolutely free.

The Motive?

‘How is it possible?’, you may ask, that, with crime fiction the biggest selling genre in Britain, and more Welsh crime writers than ever, that Wales has no dedicated crime event of its own? Nothing to rival the likes of Scotland’s hugely popular Bloody Scotland, Newcastle’s Noir festival or Bristol’s Crimefest?  Especially with writers like Matthew Hall (Keeping Faith) appearing on both bestseller lists and our TV screens, and Welsh crime dramas (Hinterland/Y Gwyll, Keeping Faith/Un Bore Mercher, Hidden/Craith) sparking a whole new appreciation of Wales.

It seems that crime fiction set in Wales is simply not, as yet, as well known as its UK counterparts or Scandinavian neighbours, despite the fact that Wales is also home to award-winning and bestselling authors Clare Mackintosh, Belinda Bauer and Amy Lloyd – to name only three

The Means?

Crime Cymru, the Welsh crime writing collective, believes that Wales is often overlookedby publishers, booksellers and even readers. We don’t all write about Wales but whatever the connection, we believe we have something unique to offer the world of crime fiction and are determined to change perceptions with our own international crime festival.

The first physical festival will take place in Aberystwyth in spring 2022 (April 29 – May 2). But this year, a taster event is being launched with a free, digital festival – Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol – from April 26 – May 2, 2021, fully online.

The Opportunity?

This is a fantastic chance for crime fans to join us and our guest authors for some amateur sleuthing, sitting in on author panels, hearing bestselling writers talk about their work and maybe finding a new favourite writer as we explore the Who-dunnit? Why-dunnit? Where-dunnit?  and How-dunnit? of crime fiction from the safety of our living rooms.

  • Our list of authors will be a high-profile taster ahead of the full festival in 2022, taking place in Aberystwyth at a series of live venues, in full partnership with Aberystwyth Council.   

‘It’s so exciting to be bringing Wales its first official crime fiction festival and there’s going to be something for everyone,’ says one of Crime Cymru’s founder members and chair of the festival organising group, Alis Hawkins.

‘The 2022 festival will open on April 29th, with a torch-lit dragon parade, starting in the town centre and finishing at the castle. Then the winner of a primary schools’ competition to make the best dragon model will be announced.

‘Following that, there’ll be a quiz where you can compete against the authors, but don’t worry, only one round will be on crime fiction!

‘On the Saturday night there will be a Noson Lawen for authors and members of the public – a great chance to chat to famous authors in an informal atmosphere. Then, on Sunday evening we’re planning a champagne reception at which the winner of the inaugural Crime Cymru, First Crime Novel prize will be announced. 

‘Basically, all weekend, you’ll have the chance to see household names from TV and crime fiction talking about their work as we run events throughout Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning. What could be better than that, crime fiction fans?’

Something for Everyone

As well as events for adults, in 2022 we are planning storytelling sessions for little ones, and sessions with authors who write for children and young adults.

Aspiring authors will be catered for, too, with a chance to chance to pitch their book to an agent and workshops on writing crime fiction and thrillers.

True Crime fans will also have the opportunity to meet real detectives, real CSIs and investigative writers as they discuss real crimes such as the Pembrokeshire Murders.

If you’d like to get involved, we’ll be looking for stewards for each event and to help visiting speakers find their way around.

Come for the Crime, Stay for the Cymraeg!

The Gŵyl Crime Cymru Festival in 2022 will feature events in both English and Welsh as we want the festival to be an inclusive event that will showcase Welsh language and culture.

Participants will be welcome to ask questions in Welsh, as several of the Crime Cymru members are fluent Welsh speakers. The full 2022 festival will also provide bilingual opportunities as well as an extensive shop window for our wonderful Welsh food producers, artisans and community organisations through the non-panel events.

The free, digital festival in 2021 – Virtual Crime Cymru Digidol – will feature both English and Welsh language events.

Contacts for journalists and marketing officers.

If you would like to interview one of the organising authors or learn more about the digital festival in 2021 and the live event next year, please contact Bev Jones, our Press Officer.

We are hoping to make Crime Cymru authors from all areas of Wales, and guests from further afield, available for interviews by phone, Zoom etc. closer to the time.

Contacts for readers and fans.

Please visit our website which will be up and running very soon and our www.Crime.Cymru site, which we will be updating each week with news.

Sign up online to get the latest updates on our emerging guest list for the digital festival and find out how to book a free seat for your favourite author.

Join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @GwylCrimeCymruFestival and @CrimeCymru

Additional Information

The Crime Cymru Authors Behind Gwyl Crime Cymru

Who are Crime Cymru and what are our aims?

Authors Alis Hawkins and Matt Johnson (both shortlisted for Crime Writers’ Association Dagger awards) and author Rosie Claverton, established the Welsh crime writers’ collective, Crime Cymru ( in 2017 with three principal aims:

  • To support crime writers with a real and present relationship with Wales

 To help in the development of new writing talent

  • To promote Wales, Welsh culture and Welsh crime writing in particular, to the wider world

For the first three years of its existence, the collective concentrated on the first of those aims but, in 2020, decided to buck the prevailing gloom and move to fulfil the second and third by establishing a new ‘first novel’ competition and an international crime fiction festival in Aberystwyth.

      Our vision is:

1. To establish a world-class, biennial international literary festival for Wales in Aberystwyth where:

  • crime fiction and crime drama from Wales are celebrated alongside books and TV series from the wider UK and internationally. (Each Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival will feature authors from a guest nation, beginning with Iceland.)
  • readers from Wales are afforded the opportunity to meet industry-leading authors who are only seen at major festivals
  • authors not yet familiar with Wales will be introduced to our country, culture and language via the extraordinary range of Welsh crime fiction and TV drama they will encounter and by holidaying in the Aberystwyth area before, during and after the festival
  • Wales is seen as a confident, outward-looking, multicultural nation with its own culture
  • interest and involvement in the festival is broadened, year on year, via Virtual Crime Cymru Digidol, the online version of the festival which will facilitate international reach and further fulfil our aim to be inclusive (see values, below)

2. To benefit Aberystwyth and the surrounding area in terms of:

  • bringing thousands of visitors to Aberystwyth during the festival (for comparison, Bloody Scotland – Scotland’s premier crime fiction festival – brings more than 10,000 people to the town each year.
  • sourcing all materials and services possible from local businesses and suppliers
  • offering the opportunity for people of all ages and demographics to get involved at all levels of the festival, not just as attenders
  • publicising Aberystwyth, the Welsh coast and Wales more generally not only as a holiday venue but as a cultural and business centre.

3. To further the three founding aims of the Crime Cymru collective:

Everything we will do in planning for and running Gŵyl Crime Cymru Festival is underpinned by four founding values:

  • Inclusivity
  • Collaboration
  • Sustainability
  • Authenticity

Our values are reflected in our choice of Aberystwyth as our venue, a choice which has been enthusiastically celebrated by the town council who are offering financial start-up support.