Stage set for Edinburgh’s festival of magic ...

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Fifers are being invited to let their ‘imagination fly’ this month by heading over the Forth to the 2017 Edinburgh International Magic Festival when it returns to the city.

Magicfest is celebrating its eighth year in the capital with a variety of shows taking places at venues across Edinburgh from June 30 to July 8.

This year’s festival is set to mark the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 by partnering with Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, Edinburgh Museums & Galleries and Edinburgh World Heritage.

It aims to build on the success of last year and highlights of this year’s programme include: The return of MagicFair at Summerhall after a sell-out launch last year with family events and late night sessions; a ‘Levitations’ themed gala show bringing MagicFest 2017 to a grand finale at the city’s Festival Theatre with international acts and gravity defying performances as well as solo shows from Morgan & West, R Paul Wilson, David Stone, Dave Alnwick and Luke Eaton.

After a sell-out launch last year, MagicFair returns with over 80 live magic shows and 20 of the greatest illusionists from around the world.

Best described as a magic theme park, the three-day event offers all ages a spellbinding day out across morning, afternoon and late sessions. One ticket in gives festival-goers entry to up to seven 20-minute shows, where they will experience live magic in intimate groups of 10 or 120 seat theatres, plus drop-in events and courtyard fun. Whichever sessions visitors choose, they are promised a thrilling ride on the MagicFair rollercoaster.

Kevin Quantum  (Pic: Matt Turner)

Kevin Quantum (Pic: Matt Turner)

There is also entertainment for children – under fives go free to family-orientated morning sessions (10am-2pm). Here kids can enjoy mini magic school workshops, wand-crafting, brilliant beasts and six different magic shows including Morgan & West, Tricky Ricky and Monkey Magic with Gary Dunn. There will also be alchemy themed afternoon sessions (2-6pm) boasting mind wizards, fake magic, tech tricks and laboratory experiment shows with the chance to get hands-on and learn magic tricks with the pros in new drop-in workshops.

As the sun goes down, things take a darker turn for the late sessions (7.30-11.30pm) with horror magic, mind-control and daredevil stunts, plus street food, music and pop-up bars in the courtyard for revellers to party with into the wee witching hours.

This year the festival will also expand its sell-out show ‘The Secret Room’ from four to 20 performances, bringing three of Edinburgh’s unique historical venues and their untold mysteries and dark pasts to life with captivating magic tours.

Kevin Quantum, who is from Fife, is the founder and director of Magicfest. He explained how ‘The Secret Room’ has been developed for 2017.

He said: “Following a four-year sell-out run at Lauriston Castle, the hugely popular ‘Secret Room’ expands across the city this summer, bringing the colourful history and untold stories of Edinburgh’s hidden gems to life with magic-filled tours.

“New venues include Riddle’s Court and The Writers’ Museum, where magicians will take groups of secret-seekers on a magical adventure as they animate the dark past and unsolved mysteries of each with captivating magic. The expansion of Secret Room comes from a partnership between MagicFest and the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, Edinburgh Museums and Galleries and Edinburgh World Heritage allowing more people to experience magic in an innovative way, while exploring the historic architecture and cultural heritage of Edinburgh.”

Another new event for this year includes the UK debut of ‘From the Dark’, a show originally designed for the blind, which invites sighted and non-sighted audiences to experience the world’s only illusion show performed in complete darkness.

Juan Esteban Varela invites the curious to experience illusions and the feeling of astonishment while blindfolded in complete darkness.

Designed after 10 years of research, From the Dark has been adapted so both non-sighted and sighted people can experience this one-of-a-kind show, redefining the definition of disappearance.

Kevin explained what audiences can expect from this unique performance.

He said: “This show has never been done in Scotland or the UK before and I am really excited to include it as part of this year’s festival. The audience is led into the theatre blindfolded and given a box and the surprises unfold from there. It is a trick they experience through touch. The first I heard of it was about three or four years ago and I have always wanted to feature it live at the festival.

“The audience are subjected to sensory-stimulation to activate their imagination and emotion and force their judgement to work against them to create deceptions of the mind. This is magic as never ‘seen’ before.”

And this year’s ‘Levitations’ themed gala show on July 8 brings MagicFest to a grand finale at the spectacular Festival Theatre. Audiences will be treated to two-and-a-half-hours of enchantment where the greatest illusionists and circus acts from around the world will defy the laws of gravity to perform visually stunning and dreamlike flights of fancy as they float, fly and soar through the air...

Highlights at the gala show will include French performers Cubic Act and their floating box; the master of mystery and suspense Aaron Crow who captures the audience without uttering a single word; black art illusionists Les Chapeux Blancs, and world magic champion Marko Karvo with his dazzling bird act.

Kevin said this year’s festival has a specific theme: “This year it is all about levitation and people flying. It is something I have always been fascinated with and have never had the opportunity to work into the festival before. But we are taking it seriously this year. It will feature in the big Festival Theatre gala show. Magicians will levitate and we will also have birds that will fly over the heads of the audience - it is quite a spectacular act.”

Kevin continued: “I’m delighted to see more Scottish performers than ever before in this year’s line-up, many of whom, in the Secret Room performance, are creating new work inspired by Edinburgh and her history.

“The Magicfair was launched last year and it’s always challenging doing something for the first time. But it was such a success and it fitted well as a venue for the magicians. It worked so well that we are bringing it back this year.” He added: “There are magicians from all over the country taking part in this year’s festival - there is something for everyone.” For tickets, visit: www.magicfest.co.uk