Official Guide to Edinburgh
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Kevin Quantum

Kevin Quantum (also known as Kevin McMahon) is one of the top magicians in the UK and has performed at thousands of events across the world over the past 10 years. Kevin became a magician in 2005 after appearing on the TV show Faking It and being trained in Las Vegas by the world’s best magicians, Penn and Teller.

Before becoming a magician, Kevin was a professional physicist and to this day his shows combine his love of science and magic in a unique hybrid. Between creating his own shows and acting as Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Magic Festival, Kevin Quantum also set a Guinness World Record for the world’s biggest magic trick in 2012.

Ahead of this year's Edinburgh International Magic Festival, we caught up with Kevin to find out more about MagicFest's 7th edition and what he thinks makes Edinburgh magical...

How did MagicFest start?

MagicFest happened 3 or 4 years into my magic career. I met my now wife Svetlana who was fresh out of her masters at Napier in Festivals and Events management and we thought that Edinburgh would be a great place to start a magic festival. The biggest highs were bringing to Edinburgh and becoming friends with some magic legends like Paul Daniels, Maestro Voronin, David Berglas and many more.

Are there any other Magic Festivals? What makes Edinburgh’s so special?

Yes, all over the world, they're springing up pretty quickly, we're proud to have been trailblaizers in this industry. Other good ones are Quebec, Melbourne, London, Victoria-Gastez. I've only been to London and Victoria but we're friends with the organisers of the other ones. The thing that makes Edinburgh MagicFest work is the city and all the history that swallows you when you arrive here. Witches, wizards, ghillie dhus, JK Rowling, Harry Potter, Camera Obscura, the whole place oozes with mysticism and magic, from the mystery of a narrow close to the majesty of the castle. We're proud just to be part of this landscape.

Tell us what's new about this year's MagicFest?

MagicFair is the big ticket this year. 1 ticket and 8 magic shows. Like the Fringe come early but with magic. You pay to get into Summerhall, from £10-£20, and at any one moment there are 5 shows and events going on that you can drop into. They all last around 20 minutes so you can see as much or as little as you like, whilst enjoying a drink in the courtyard and access to street food vendors on site.

Who are the ones to watch on the Edinburgh magic scene?

That's tricky. Watch out for Clive Nicholas Andrews, he's a clown experimenting with Magic and doing good things. Shona Reppe is also working with Magic and if you saw her Joesphine Bean production a few years ago then you'd be as excited as I am about how this could turn out. For pure magic young Daniel Bastianelli won our under 18 competition a few years ago and is now performing live shows, and is working very hard. Elliot Bibby is showing great potential as a comedy magic performer. Luke Eaton will always be my favourite horror magic performer also. 

What's your favourite trick?

Just now it's Paul Daniel's electric chairs. It's marvellous on so many levels, and for magicians particularly so. Paul was so far ahead of his time and his audience management was unrivalled.

[Video from Youtube - M.RileyJunior]

What’s the most magical thing about our city?

I think, the mystery of her past. From crazy witch burning to the centre of world knowledge in a few decades. It's hard to wrap your head around that. The Secret Room event we're doing at Lauriston Castle touches on this, magicians animate the place with shows inspired by past owners, some with very colourful hobbies! It's almost sold out but you may still be able to get a ticket.

What makes you proud to live/work in Edinburgh?

I'm proud that our city had the foresight to invest so heavily in the arts. It's now reaping the rewards year on year. 

What’s your favourite Hidden Gem in the city?

In terms of arts, I really enjoyed the Hidden Door festival this year. In terms of places, I love the hidden garden behind the Scottish Storytelling Centre just off the Royal Mile. Always a peaceful haven away from the traffic!

When you hear the words “This is Edinburgh” what springs to mind?

History, people, culture, creativity, the Forth Bridge, The Proclaimers, wind, old buildings, monuments, festivals, green areas, family, memories, Waverley, The Meadows.