Until now, there has been no established crime fiction festival in Wales. But, if you’re keyed in to crime fiction social media, you’ll know that that’s about to change. In spring 2022 – when, hopefully, we’ll all have learned how to live with the Coronavirus – Welsh crime writers’ collective, Crime Cymru (see Crime.Cymru for more info) are launching the country’s first international crime fiction festival Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival!
The inaugural three-day festival will take place on the early May bank holiday weekend in the lovely West Wales coastal resort and university town and of Aberystwyth.
But, in 2021, as a warm up to Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival, we’ll be holding a free, digital festival - Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol. Our live Zoom-based festival will introduce people from all over the UK/the world to the brilliant crime writing talent we have in Wales, as well as showcasing some of UK crime fiction’s household names. And, during our digi-fest, we’ll be doing our bit to support those who support us – booksellers. Each of Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol’s events will be partnered by a bookshop from which we’ll be encouraging audience members to order panel members’ books if they’ve been excited by what they’ve heard.
The 2021 online festival will also see the launch of the Crime Cymru First Crime Novel Competition. The winner will be announced at a champagne reception as part of Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival ’22 the following year.
We’ve decided to break the mould and make Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival a biennial event, with a digital festival in the interim years. Running a digital festival every other year means that readers who can’t travel to Aberystwyth will still be able to enjoy the fantastic line-ups of writers on offer, and it will also allow us to continue supporting bookshops with our partnership arrangements.
As far as Crime Cymru is concerned 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 Wales more widely. So we’re committed to a festival that’s:
Collaborative – we’re already collaborating with organisations and businesses in Aberystwyth and we’ve run a competition in local secondary schools to find our festival logo.
Inclusive – we want Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival to have a welcoming, family feel and to encourage people who wouldn’t ordinarily see themselves as the sort of people who go to literary festivals to come along and see what we do. And, as Wales has two official languages – English and Welsh – we’ll be making sure that there are events in both languages.
Sustainable – we want our festival to be as environmentally responsible as possible and to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum. This means we’ll be doing things like using QR-code downloads so we can reduce the number of printed programmes, and encouraging people to come to Aberystwyth by public transport.
Authentic - as Wales’s first national crime fiction festival we’re thrilled to have the chance to give festival-goers a real taste of Wales in Aberystwyth – a vibrant, multicultural town.
So, what will Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival offer festival goers?
We’ll open our inaugural festival on Friday evening with a big community event – a dragon lantern parade 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 quiz in the festival bar where festival-goers can compete against authors.
On Saturday night people will be able to experience a traditional Welsh Noson Lawen 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 the festival – including headliners and special guests – follow us on Twitter @GwylCymru2022, Instagram at GwylCrimeCymruFestival and like our Facebook page ‘Gŵyl Crime Cymru Festival’.
And keep an eye on our website – www.GŵylCrimeCymruFestival.co.uk – which is currently under construction, for more information and details of how to book tickets for Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol next year.
We hope to see you in Aberystwyth in 2022!
Co-chair, Crime Cymru