The acorn that became Gwyl Crime Cymru Festival was planted in 2017 when three Welsh crime fiction authors – Alis Hawkins, Matt Johnson and Rosie Claverton – met together to discuss Alis’s idea to create a mutually supportive group for Wales crime writers. Crime Cymru was the result. Three years on and now boasting 32 published members, the organisation has three principal aims.
- To support crime writers in and of Wales
- To help in the development of new Welsh crime writing talent
- To promote Wales, Welsh culture and Welsh crime writing in particular, to the wider world
In 2020, Alis and Matt decided to buck the pessismism caused by the Covid crisis to establish an international crime fiction festival for Wales.
It was about time.
England has a dozen crime fiction festivals, Scotland five and Northern Ireland now has its own festival. With all the amazing crime writing talent in Wales, the scene was crying out for Wales’ own showcase. Not only that, but we wanted the people of Wales to be able to meet and to see the bestsellers of the UK crime fiction world without having to cross the border to do so.
Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival was born.
Planets began to align. Matt and Alis were invited to appear at Wales Week Berkshire. They met organiser Nellie Williams, also behind the hugely successful Glanusk Show. Matt joined a book tour run by Dr Jackie Collins, the huge personality behind Dr Noir and the Newcastle Noir festival. A working group was formed. Discussions became plans.
As well as being ambitious, the working group were realistic as to timescale. Prior to the ‘real world’ festival in 2022, we decided to hold Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol in 2021. This virtual festival will both introduce Crime Cymru to the wider UK audience and act as a warm up to the first Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival in 2022.
Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol
Will be a live, Zoom-based, interactive festival that’s free. We’ll be offering our audience the chance to ‘meet’ both bestselling authors and screenwriters as well as emerging talent from Wales and the UK. We will also be joined by a guest panel from Iceland.
And Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol will also support those who support us – our booksellers. Each Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol event will be partnered by an independent Welsh bookshop from which we’ll be encouraging audience members to order books if they’ve been excited by what they’ve heard.
Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival
We’ve decided to break the mould and make Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival a biennial event, with Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol in the intervening years. (‘Real world’ festivals in the even years, virtual in the odd.) Running a digital festival every other year will give us an international audience and, at home, it will ensure that readers who find travel difficult will still be able to enjoy the fantastic line-ups of writers on offer. It will also allow us to continue supporting bookshops throughout Wales with our partnership arrangements.
Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival will be a not-for-profit festival but we want it to be of financial as well as cultural value to Aberystwyth and the country more widely. So we’re committed to a festival that’s: collaborative, inclusive, sustainable and authentic
So, what will the 2022 Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival offer festival goers?
We’ll open our inaugural festival on Friday evening, April 29th with a big community event – a dragon lantern parade [link to page] starting in the town centre and finishing at Aberystwyth castle in its commanding position overlooking the town and the sea. Later that evening, we’re planning a pub quiz [link to tickets and venue] where festival-goers can compete against authors.
On Saturday night people will be able to experience a traditional Welsh Noson Lawen [link] with entertainment from selected authors who’ll be displaying their lesser-known talents. The event will feature food from some of the fantastic local producers of everything from smoked fish to cheese, bread to beer and the evening will be festival-goers’ chance to chat to participating authors in an informal atmosphere.
Sunday evening will see Crime Cymru and sponsors throwing a champagne reception to mark the award of the inaugural Crime Cymru First Crime Novel Prize.
And, all weekend, festival-goers will have the chance to see household names from the worlds of TV crime drama and crime fiction talking about their work as we run panel events throughout Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning, as well as writing workshops and free, meet-the-author book signing events in Aberystwyth’s bookshops.
In line with Crime Cymru’s aims, aspiring authors will be catered for, too, with a pitch-the-agent session and a session from a publisher on what they’re looking for in new crime fiction.
To learn more about plans for the festival as they develop – including headliners and special guests – follow us on Twitter @GwylCrimefest, Instagram at GwylCrimeCymruFestival and like our Facebook page ‘Gŵyl Crime Cymru Festival’. And keep an eye out here for details of how to book tickets for next year.
We hope to see you in Aberystwyth in 2022 and online for Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol later this year!