What To Expect At Your First Magic Convention

Thinking of going to your first magic convention? Great idea! You’re going to be blown away by the close-up shows, card tricks, and camaraderie from other magicians. Consider this a guide to getting through your first convention.

Tom Elderfield being impressed by our lanyards

Which magic convention?

The answer is likely to be determined by where you live, but if you’re in the US, we immodestly believe the best convention is Magifest, held every January in Columbus, Ohio. It's also the oldest magic event in North America. If you’re in Europe or the UK, you shouldn’t miss The Session, which is held in London and focused on close-up magic.

Eric Mead at Magifest

Getting There

Getting to a magic convention is more fun if you travel (and board) with magician friends. Driving is the best option, both because you then have access to a car and also because you don’t have issues transporting all the great magic you buy home. Or course, if you're thinking about attending an event like The Retreat, there may be a little more planning involved as they're held in more remote locations.

Planning Your Weekend

Magicians err in two ways when attending magic conventions: either they don’t attend anything at all spending the time jamming with friends or they attend everything at the exclusion of some hang time. It’s all about balance. When you get your schedule, circle the events you’d like to attend, and plan your social life around that. Build in time for meals with friends, or to jam in the lobby with your heroes. But, in general, see the shows and attend the lectures. You’ll learn more that way.

Taking Notes

By taking notes, we’re not insisting you write long-hand all your thoughts from the weekend (although that’s exactly what we do). In fact, at Magifest and The Session we provide our guests with notebook for just this purpose. But now, note apps on your smartphone are a great way to catalogue ideas. You can add photos and video to your digital notes, so that you can reconstruct what you’re learning when you get back to your home.

Magic dealer at a magic conventions

Buying Things

At your first convention your inclination is to buy everything in sight. Resist this urge. It all seems great, but you’ll never use most of it. Instead, think of the tricks you’re buying as time investments. What do you have time for? If you buy some magic books with, say, fifty tricks, it will take you MONTHS to work through just those books. And your money goes much further with books than an expensive prop.

Hang time at a magic convention

Hang Time

This is, perhaps, the most important part of a magic convention. This is where you’ll make friends AND improve your craft. Our favorite magic conventions (Magifest and The Session, for example) have LOTS of hang time built in, so that between events you can meet new people. This is where new effects are developed or debuted, and it’s where you’ll get to meet your heroes and spend time with them.

Even if you’re shy, try your best to be proactive in meeting other magicians. Introduce yourself to one of the headliners and ask if you can show them a trick or watch one of theirs. Or ask a question about something they covered in their lecture. You’ll find that 99% of the magicians at conventions are so pleased to be asked about anything that they’ll show you great patience and respect. Young magicians shouldn't be worried about asking experienced professionals for advice. We encourage that sort of interaction at our events.