Capital conjures up another festival

SCOTLAND'S festivals capital has conjured up another major addition to its calendar of money-spinning events, The Scotsman can reveal.

More than 3,000 people are expected to attend the inaugural Edinburgh International Magic Festival this summer.

Events, ranging from a gala show featuring world-class performers to a "magic school" for youngsters, will be held in five venues across five days.

Although magic conventions are held around the UK, the Edinburgh event is billed as the first major magic festival geared towards the general public. Organisers have pledged there will be no "magician-only" events, in an effort to ensure that the festival has as wide an appeal as possible.

Everything from mind-reading and illusion stage magic to comedy will be part of the festival, which will be staged in a traditionally quiet spell in early July. Its addition comes in the wake of festivals of politics, visual art and computer gaming being launched in the city in recent years.

Although the magic festival programme is still being developed, highlights are expected to include "close-up" magic masterclasses, competitions and historical talks charting the development of tricks over the years.

It is hoped the festival will attract new visitors to the city, which famously gave birth to the schoolboy wizard Harry Potter.

Edinburgh's links with Harry Houdini – who visited the city several times – were brought to the big screen in the 2007 film Death Defying Acts.

The organisers, who admit the festival was partly inspired by the huge success of celebrity magicians, have vowed to make the event an annual fixture.

A spokesman said: "Magic has risen dramatically in popularity in the last seven years. The rise of David Blaine, Derren Brown and Harry Potter has seen a new generation of magicians and magic-lovers.

"We believe that the city that inspired JK Rowling's world-renowned books should play host to a world-renowned magic festival.


The festival is the brainchild of Edinburgh-based magician Kevin McMahon, who shot to fame when he appeared on TV show Faking It and famously duped the veteran magician Paul Daniels.

Mr McMahon, who gave up a career as a scientist to pursue magic after appearing on the show in 2005, has joined forces with a Russian theatre producer to create the event, which will run from 7-11 July.

Mr McMahon said: "There are a lot of other magic conventions around the country, but none are proper festivals, and most of them don't have any public events. Although the popularity of magic has risen, there is very little provision for public shows. The Fringe often has magic shows, but these are normally lost between theatre shows and comedy."

A VisitScotland spokeswoman said: "Everyone is fascinated by magic, regardless of age, and the programme should be a great draw for visitors and also people in Scotland with some fantastic performances and competitions.

"It's also a great opportunity for families to do something different with the start of the school holidays."