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granite noir programme

Granite Noir – one of the best festivals in Aberdeen

Very recently and being more precise between 22nd and 24th of February I had the pleasure of taking part in a great event. This event was Aberdeen’s Crime Writing Festival, also known as Granite Noir.

This festival was created in 2017 and is growing year by year, creating something unique and remarkable – the atmosphere of magical darkness of the crime books.

The popularity of this year’s edition of the festival was enormous, with thousands of people who took part in many different shows and exhibitions that took place all over the city during these incredible three days.

This year’s edition was terrific!

Excitement packed programme

It was the third one and the best so far. The host of this great festival tries to astonish visitors with fantastic attractions from year to year and this time their involvement exceeded my expectations.

The programme of the festival was tailored to everyone – there were small and large conversations, escape room, theme tours, exhibitions as well as events for younger participants.

For some time now I’ve been a big fan podcast interviews, so I really enjoyed live chats with the authors of crime books.

I have to mention some of the most important meetings of this year’s edition of the festival, one of which was the meeting of the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Abira Mukherjee in the Music Hall. I have never experienced such a great event before.

It is also worth mentioning the headliners included Sophie Hannah, Susan Calman, Stuart MacBride, Kathryn Harkup as well as Yrsa Sigurdardottir and Mark Billingham.

Up close and personal with the authors

I liked the fact that it was easy to get in touch with the authors. The queue for questions was always very reasonable, and after each meeting, the authors were willing to sign the books. I was convinced that is must be more difficult.

But it wasn’t!

There was also a fantastic collection of portraits of 19th-century criminals taken straight from the registers of Grampian Police. Over 1,000 people supposedly visited this gallery during the festival. Terrifying and fascinating at the same time.    

All of the events were spread around the city. This gave me a chance to visit places which I would otherwise never discover . I have absolutely fallen in love with Aberdeen. I also explored fantastic venues such as the Music Hall and Lemon Tree, both excellent and full of magical atmosphere.

Writers like Scotland

At one of the events during which I listened to the conversation with the Icelandic queen of crime Yrsa Sigurdardottir and brilliant writer Mark Billingham, I could not stop myself and ask the question which was completely unrelated to crime novels –

What is your favourite place in Scotland?

Ive always liked Aberdeen. I don’t think I have ever been in anywhere in Scotland I have really liked [laughter]. Every year we tend to go to this same place – festivals. The Stirling is fantastic, professionally we go to Glasgow. I also plan to do a mini book tour this year around Scotland.

Mark Billingham

I assume that Mark Billingham, because he visits the same cities every year during festivals, has no time to see the full beauty of Scotland. However, he pointed out the beautiful city of Aberdeen in his speech, and I absolutely agree with him.

I like the seaside and lakes, water. I really need to have water close to me.

Yrsa Sigurdardottir

I agree entirely with Yrsa, that being near the lakes and the sea is a fantastic experience. Due to Scotland’s location, almost every place in this beautiful country would probably suit her because of water access.

Aberdeen has breathtaking beaches and access to the sea, which definitely place this area, is among the best places in Scotland according to Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

Festivals are an ideal addition to sightseeing of interesting places or maybe the cities are just bonuses to the fantastic festivals?

I still cannot make my mind up, because both the festival and Aberdeen made a significant impression on me.

Check out our Guide to Aberdeen filled with amazing places to visit, hidden gems, suggested tours and more! Click on heart ❤️

Don’t miss Granite Noir 2020

Granite Noir is without any doubts one of the best festivals in Aberdeen. This event astonished me, and I believe that you also were very impressed by the vast number of events, music, theatre and meetings with the amazing crime authors.

However, Aberdeen has a lot more to offer, and I was surprised by how many fantastic events are still yet to come.

If you want to know more, please see the following list of festivals that are taking place in Aberdeen this year. Their diversity will captivate you, and I am sure that everyone will be able to find something perfect for themselves.

Nuart Aberdeen 2019

For all art lovers and artistically restless souls, Aberdeen has prepared something remarkable! The festival established in 2017 is an international event dedicated to public art.

The main aim of this event is to promote the most interesting and essential contemporary street art. The Nuart Festival focuses on activating, inspiring and supporting the emerging art scene and promoting art as part of everyday life.

Due to this extraordinary festival, public art comes out of the underground and enters the world of art. It is also important to underline that the festival provides excellent public platforms for national and international artists to present their work.

Special places, installations and temporary exhibitions exclusively for artists, and they are some of the most famous and advanced artists creating street and urban art known all over the world.  

If you are still not convinced, I must mention that this festival won a tourism award in 2018 and was named Best Cultural Event/Festival at the Aberdeen City.

So plan your time between 18th and 21st April to experience something incredible.

DolphinFest

DolphinFest is the first festival of this kind in the history of Aberdeen. It was developed as part of the annual Dolphinwatch project held in Torry Battery.

Because the festival in Torry Battery expands its range this year will reach the city centre of Aberdeen. This is a fantastic opportunity to see the magnificent bottlenose dolphins in the heart of the city, a phenomenon on a European scale.

DolphinFest is an unforgettable opportunity for the whole family and marine wildlife enthusiasts directly from Aberdeen. It is a time during which you can see the beautiful dolphins and take part in many interesting activities.

You can see Dolphins, whales and porpoises between May and August. This festival also aims to make people aware of the marine environment and emphasise the importance of defending marine nature.  

It should also be mentioned that some events are paid for and require a reservation. The full programme of events will be announced in the beginning of March, so it’s worth getting acquainted with it and becoming a part of this beautiful event.

Look Again Festival

Aberdeen is definitely a place that fascinates, enchants and inspires many artists. Artistic souls can easily find and spread their wings here.

I have mentioned above the fantastic street festival Nuart Aberdeen this time I would like to introduce you to the Look Again Festival.

The full name of this festival is Look Again Visual Art and Design Festival, which may explain all that you could expect. This is a celebration for the artistic sensibility.

Look Again Festival is a feast of the best contemporary visual arts and design. During this event, the works of local and international talents are presented.

Therefore, I am convinced that all people who feel the artistic flair or want to discover it should come to Aberdeen and between the 7th and 16th of June experience the beauty of the art.

This year, just like in the previous year, the organisers prepared a lot of fantastic attractions, meetings, talks and exhibitions. You cannot miss it.

Deeside Local Food Festival

Have you ever tried some of the most delicious local food and drinks in Aberdeen? Or have you ever met local farmers? Or experience the talks about the wild food or tales of some stunning drinks?

Oh, it means that you have never been to the Deeside Local Food Festival! This great event will be happening on the one day in September – this year it will be the 15th of September which is Sunday.

You just cannot miss it!

It is a feast for all nature and food lovers who appreciated that organic product and some fun activities for children. This particular day provides something for everyone – adults and kids.  

Additionally, you can even learn how to make some of the fantastic dishes from the highest quality product by taking part in one of the many workshops.

It is a perfect opportunity to spend a fantastic day out with the local community.


The above-presented festivals are only a small part of the event which will happen this year. They are all worth exploring; however, it is entirely up to you which one you decide to choose.

I highly recommend all of them because every one of them has something special and unique to offer.

Aberdeen is a vibrant city which provides unforgettable moments, the opportunity to take fantastic photos and experience a great adventure.

The huge amount to various festivals and events will definitely astonish you, with its colours, possibilities and entertainment.

I started from the Grand Noir, which was absolute bliss to me, and if I only find the time, I will revisit this beautiful city of Aberdeen.

So I strongly believe that when you visit this charming city once you surely will have the desire to come back again very soon!

Let me know down in the comments what is your favourite festival in Scotland or if you have been to Aberdeen before.

Disclaimer – The post was created in partnership with Visit Aberdeenshire who supported this trip to the city. All the views and recommendations are my own.

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