Edinburgh International Magic Festival 2011

Edinburgh International Magic Festival 2011

Paul Wilson and Xavier Mortimer among highlights of second annual festival

Eyes may have been rolled and fezzes shrugged last year when yet another Edinburgh International X Festival was announced (‘we’ll like this,’ residents thought, ‘but not a lot’). However, magician Kevin McMahon, now presiding over his second year as director of the Edinburgh International MagicFest, was cheerily undaunted.

‘Edinburgh is perfect for the Festival because it’s the UK’s most magical city,’ he says, doffing his top hat to JK Rowling and Harry Potter. ‘The popularity of magic has grown dramatically in recent years: people like Derren Brown and David Blaine have really moved it into the 21st century. Until last year, though, there were no UK magic festivals where you could see multiple, quality magic shows in a programmed event.’

After the success of last year’s Festival, McMahon and his team have put together a programme twice as big as last time, which still aims to thrill audiences while not taking itself too seriously. Celebrity magicians like The Real Hustle’s slight-of-hand-meister Paul Wilson rub shoulders with up-and-coming acts like skinny-tied magic man Xavier Mortimer. There are comedy magic shows (we’re sort of tempted by ‘Card Ninja’ Javier Jarquin), dinner galas, a Magic School for kids and something a little worrying called a ‘Ladies Only Psychic Party’. McMahon’s own show Would Lafayette Wow the iPad Generation? examines whether the tricks of the Great Lafayette would still wow crowds entranced by their iPhones. A highlight in this boys’ club is an appearance by Romany (pictured), one of the UK’s only professional female wizards.

‘There are so few female magicians due to a real lack of role models,’ says the self-styled Diva of Magic. ‘It’s boys that get given magic sets for Christmas. I didn’t even consider it until I took a performance evening class.’

‘Magic is changing its identity right now,’ says McMahon. ‘There are many talented and inventive performers all over the world creating a new exciting vision for it as an art form that will evolve magic, in the same way that Cirque du Soleil has changed our view of circus.’


Edinburgh International MagicFest, 1–8 Jul, various venues, Edinburgh. www.magicfest.co.uk

Edinburgh International Magic Festival

MagicFest presents another programme of close-up conundrums, mindboggling illusions, comic cabaret and other feats of the impossible. The festival features workshops as well as shows and ends with the illustrious Closing Gala, a fast paced performance of illusion, sleight of hand, circus and mind reading. And this year…

Card Ninja

Quick fingered and quick witted, Javier Jarquin renounces the wand for the deck and shows off his card throwing skills, with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humour. Part of Edinburgh International Magic Festival.

Romany: Diva of Magic

Magic, comedy, burlesque and feathers – the ingredients of a tantalising spectacular. Suitable for ages 14+. Part of Edinburgh International Magic Festival.

Paul Wilson: Sleight of Hand

The master of scams and star of The Real Hustle returns with more of the explanations behind the wily ways of con artists. Suitable for ages 12+.

Kevin McMahon: Would Lafayette Wow the iPad Generation?

A lively magic show from the Artistic Director of EIMF, accompanying the story of the Great Lafayette and a comparison of his century-old tricks with the effects that wow tech-savvy modern audiences. Suitable for ages 10+. Part of Edinburgh International Magic Festival.

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