Bloody Scotland 2019 proved another great success story for Stirling, with record numbers attending the festival to provide an economic boost and enhance the city’s reputation as a key events location.
Provost Christine Simpson speaks at the Bloody Scotland 2019 Gala Reception

The international crime-writing extravaganza saw audience figures eclipse the 10,000 milestone for the first time as visitors enjoyed an exciting array of events and heard fascinating insights from bestselling authors, including David Baldacci, Ian Rankin, Alex Gray, Denise Mina and Alexander McCall Smith.

Among the highlights was a spectacular opening night torchlight procession from the Stirling Castle Esplanade and through the historic city centre, which was led by world-famous thriller writer Baldacci and a host of other top authors.

That came immediately after a gala reception in the Church of the Holy Rude where Stirling Provost Christine Simpson formally opened the festival.

Wonderful celebration

Provost Simpson said: “Bloody Scotland was another wonderful celebration of writing and provided further evidence of why Stirling really is the ‘crime of the crop’ when it comes to staging large-scale events.

“I was thrilled to welcome all the world-famous authors, readers and visitors to Stirling in the historic Church of the Holy Rude, before the spectacular torchlight procession signalled the festival was in full swing.

A number of events sold out, including The Crime Writing Masterclass in the Golden Lion Hotel, and Ian Rankin, creator of the iconic Detective Inspector Rebus, interviewed by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. 

The play, ‘You The Jury’, staged at Stirling Sheriff Court and involving the audience as the jury, proved so popular that a third performance had to be added which also sold out.

An unseasonably sunny weekend saw a record turnout for the annual Scotland v England crime writers’ football match, with the ‘Auld Enemy’ running out 3-0 winners.

Vibrant atmosphere

The Provost added: “There was a vibrant atmosphere in Stirling over the weekend as tourists, writers, readers and local residents mingled and attended the diverse range of events and activities on offer throughout the city.

“The only crime committed at the festival was the performance of the Scottish team in the writers’ football match for losing to England for the second year running…I hear the inquest is still ongoing!”

“I would like to thank those involved in organising the festival and hope everyone enjoyed this unique, fun-filled festival in our beautiful city.”

Manda Scott scooped the McIlvanney Prize for her novel, A Treachery of Spies, while Claire Askew claimed the accolade for the inaugural Bloody Scotland Scottish Crime Debut of 2019 for All the Hidden Truths.

In the spirit of the festival, Manda announced on stage that she wanted to share the award with her fellow finalists – Doug Johnstone, Denise Mina and Ambrose Parry (Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman).

The perfect location for the festival

Bob McDevitt, Festival Director said: “'I'm feeling broken, emotional, but very happy with a new bunch of memories from chatting with David Baldacci about working with Clint Eastwood; listening to Ian Rankin and First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, about the political allegiances of Rebus; hearing Richard Osman read his favourite Bad Sex in Fiction Award entry, and witnessing a unique sharing of the McIlvanney Prize.

“It was a fabulous weekend and Stirling proved yet again to be the perfect location for the festival as we passed the 10,000 audience milestone for the first time.

“We are already looking forward to 2020 - but might take a few days off before thinking about that.”

Next year the Bloody Scotland Festival will run from Friday, 18 September to Sunday, 20 September.

Background info and picture details: 

Pictures show Provost Christine Simpson speaking at the Gala Reception of the 2019 Bloody Scotland Festival, and some of the world’s best-selling authors, including David Baldacci, leading the torchlight procession through historic Stirling. Pictures should be credited to Paul Reich/Bloody Scotland.