Edinburgh International Magic Festival this year begins with the Wizard World Gathering, a reincarnation of its predecessor, MagicFair. It’s a bunch of shows in one venue, but different rooms, along with food stalls, a couple of bars and a central area for hanging out – much like one of the big fringe setups.
It’s an ideal way to dip your toe into the magic water: each performance is short, offering variety in short bursts, with the opportunity to browse the food, merchandise and displays in between. Assembly Roxy is an imperious setting, the gothic church auditorium providing a perfect backdrop for the Harry Potter themed photo opportunity setup. Along with posing alongside Snape in this, there’s titillation for kids and adults – a DJ, illusions and tricks in the main hall and a quiz downstairs offer the chance for everyone to have a go and some quality gin as well as great tunes make it a quirky nighttime haunt.
Although this is a five hour event, tickets to two out of the three shows are allocated on arrival, which can mean a longish wait for the first once you arrive (you can’t just drop in on a first come first served basis). However, there are some really magical treats to be had once you do make it in to a show. The star of this gathering is undoubtedly the very talented Kevin Quantum, with his “Levitation Demonstrations”. Quantum amazes and entertains in equal quantities, building a charming, warm rapport with his audience. The illusions are very good, but so too is his comedy, repartee, creativity and attention to detail in designing the original and highly effective act which is five star stuff.
Wizard World Gathering is a fantastic concept and while the architecture of the grand hall looks great for a Potter photo opp, it doesn’t somehow lend itself to the hubbub atmosphere needed for street food and drinks. Nevertheless, there’s some high quality magic to be seen at an event bursting with potential, that could be really superb with a big injection of cash.