Edinburgh International Magic Festival launch programme

Edinburgh International Magic Festival launch programme

MagicFest pulls another rabbit out the hat with a new MagicHub at Summerhall

This summer sees the sixth edition of the Edinburgh International Magic Festival, nine days of mind boggling illusions, sleight of hand, mind reading and other feats of the impossible to get you exclaiming ‘How did they do that?’

For the first time the festival has a fixed base, with the Art Laboratory at Summerhall transformed into the MagicHub. Kevin McMahon, director of the festival, describes it as like ‘entering a portal, and winding up somewhere where the normal rules don't apply. It's kinda like that but with drink and doughnuts.’ The doughnuts being due to MagicFest’s new sponsor, Krispy Kreme. You’ll need the sugar to get you over the shock of so many inconceivable acts.

At Summerhall, Ali Cook's The Art of Astonishment blends escapology, Derren Brown-style mind reading feats, and dexterous close-up magic; Kevin McMahon’s Quantum Magic fuses state-of-the-art magic with science; Flemish circus company Cirque Cirqulaire’s Working Class interweaves magic illusions into a poetic story; and for an intimate performance Mark Elsdon’s 10 presents 10 magic tricks in 10 minutes with 10 words for just 10 people at a time.

Elsewhere across the city, Tower of Illusion transforms Camera Obscura into a realm of unnatural creatures and treacherous mysteries in a treasure hunt described as ‘Lord of the Rings meets The Crystal Maze'. The Secret Room returns to Lauriston Castle as three Scottish magicians animate the castle’s fascinating past with stories, performances and illusions through laboratories and secret passageways. The annual Magic and Variety Gala Show heads to the Festival Theatre – said to be haunted by legendary magician the Great Lafayette – where the evening's entertainment includes four-time World Champions of Quick Change Illusion Sos & Victoria with a new take on the art of transformation; Taiwan’s Mike Chao’s manipulation act; Colin Cloud in a new show predicting your behaviour and Magic Circle Stage Magician of the Year John Archer.

For those who can’t let go of ‘how did they do that?’ Dr Houstoun, Magic Circle Close-up Magician of the Year and consultant on Wolf Hall and Hugo, pulls back the curtain on some of the most incredible magicians of days gone by in the fabulously named A Compendium of Curious Characters and Exquisite Marvels too Strange to be Believed, while feature-length documentary Our Magic by R Paul Wilson (The Real Hustle) reveals the art of magic as seen by thirty of the most respected performers and creators.

Youngsters who aspire to magical heights can enrol in Magic School’s wizardry workshops and Street Magic Master Class; it’s the closest to Hogwarts you’ll get. To see the next generation of up-and-comers, check out War of the Wizards Under 18s, no unforgivable curses allowed. This year for the first time adults can attend Magic School, with Edinburgh’s Ricky McLeod’s Trixology uncovering the secrets behind several killer magic effects.

Edinburgh International Magic Festival, Edinburgh, 26 Jun–4 Jul.

Edinburgh International Magic Festival

MagicFest presents a virtual programme of close-up conundrums, mind-boggling illusions, comic cabaret and other feats of the impossible. The festival features workshops as well as shows.

Street Magic Masterclass

Tips and secrets behind card tricks and sleight of hand taught by Magic Circle Close up Magician of the Year Will Houstoun. Ages 11–15. Booking is essential.

Tower of Illusion

Rally together a team of five or less and battle your way through the Tower of Illusion. Throughout your journey you must work together to defy illusion, solve riddles, challenge mystery and confront the unknown in a unique treasure hunt.

Magic and Variety Gala Show

A mixed bill of illusion, mind-reading and sleight-of-hand from international magicians closes the festival. Featured acts include world champion Hector Mancha from Spain, Scottish mind-reader Colin Cloud, juggler Jeton from Germany and South Korea's Hun Lee and Ted Kim. Compered by comedian Chris Henry.

Kevin McMahon: Quantum Magic

A fusion of state-of-the-art magic and science. Understand Quantum Physics in four minutes, have your thoughts projected into reality and witness an impossible levitation from just inches away.

Cirque-Cirqulaire: Working Class

Flemish circus company, Cirque Cirqulaire, interweave magic illusions into a poetic story representing a new magic movement, 'magie nouvelle'.

Ali Cook: The Art of Astonishment

Escapology, jaw-dropping Derren Brown-style mind-reading feats, dexterous close-up magic and gross-out pranks.

Colin Cloud: Kills

  • 4 stars

Cloud returns with a brand new show predicting your behaviour, turning someone into an actual genius and getting away with murder.

Dr Houstoun's Conjuring: A Compendium of Curious Characters and Exquisite Marvels too Strange to be Believed

Join Dr Houstoun as he pulls back the curtain on some of the most incredible magicians of days gone by. Dr Houstoun has a PhD on historic magic, has travelled the world teaching magicians, and has consulted on Wolf Hall and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. He is also 'The Magic Circle Close-up Magician of the Year'.

Mark Elsdon: 10

Ten is the magic number. Elsdon performs ten magic tricks, in ten minutes, for ten people at a time with just ten words per trick.

War of the Wizards Under 18s

A chance to see the next Derren Brown before he hits the big time. The event is judged by a panel of professional magicians and non-magicians.

Ricky McLeod Trixology

Join Ricky McLeod at this adults only class and learn some dazzling party tricks.

The Secret Room

The untold stories of Riddle’s Court, The Writers’ Museum and Lauriston Castle are brought to life with magic-filled tours. Discover the clandestine corridors and secret chambers of Edinburgh’s historic buildings as magicians animate their dark past and unsolved mysteries. Suitable for ages 10+.

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