Now we can video call the other side of the world, listen to virtually anything ever recorded or read any major book ever published on an object smaller than our hand, the whole idea of ‘magic’ seems quaintly prehistoric. But while science has turned the inconceivable into the everyday, there is still something satisfying, reassuring, and downright human about the old-fashioned art of magic – the idea that with a flick of the hand, a wave of a wand or a few special words someone can make anything happen… ‘before your very eyes!’
For nine days in June and July, Edinburgh International Magic Festival brings this sometimes noble, sometimes very ignoble, profession to venues around the city including Summerhall, the Festival Theatre, Lauriston Castle and the Camera Obscura.
It is presented in all its manifestations. Close-up magic is offered over dinner at Summerhall’s Magic a la Carte on Saturday 27 June, with Scotland’s top illusionists astonishing you at your table as you enjoy your food. There’ll be close-up conjuring from Dr Houston and R Paul Wilson in solo shows running throughout the Festival too.
Mind-reading is another prominent feature of the festival. Colin Cloud is magic’s Sherlock Holmes, unpicking your inner workings with forensic precision. Neither are your thoughts your own with Ali Cook. Cook, as seen on Penn & Teller, will be doing mind-reading feats, among his other pranks and tricks.
Psychology professor Richard Wiseman looks at the magical power of the sleeping mind in his show on 30 June, while Kevin McMahon shows you where science and magic can meet with some Quantum Magic on 1 July.
There are opportunities to learn some of the secrets of magic (don’t tell the Magic Circle!) and try them yourselves at workshops. From its new hub at Summerhall, Edinburgh Magic Festival is a chance to rediscover your sense of wonder.