Our Plans for a Safe Magifest

We’re delighted to announce that Magifest 2021 will take place, but later than originally scheduled: May 6-8, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. Headliners include Steve Cohen, Nate Staniforth, Jon Armstrong, Eric Jones, Lucy Darling, and a dozen others. A LOT of effort and consideration has gone into the decision on how and whether to hold Magifest, and we’re making some key changes to the format for the safety of our guests. Let’s talk about it.

The Decision

We have been carefully monitoring the pandemic and Ohio regulations, and we’ve been in regular contact with the Renaissance Hotel. Our biggest concern is the safety and comfort of our guests. COVID-19 related news and regulations are changing every day--lately for the better--and after much consideration and with advice from health officials in Ohio, we’re going to proceed with Magifest. There are changes to the way we’re operating. But we wish to ensure you that your health and safety are our top priority. We’re optimistic that the world will have returned to a more normalized state by May--and we’re also hopeful for widespread access to a vaccine by that time. Our plans are based on the evidence available to us now, that these conditions are likely.

In the end, we’ve come to realize that Magifest plays an important role for so many people (including us). It’s not only a place to see the newest, most innovative acts in magic, but there’s a mental-health component, too. For the first time in all of our lives, magicians aren’t performing. There’s an impulse for all of us to come together as magicians and as friends. The social component of a convention is so important, particularly when magic shows will be among the slowest sectors to recover from this pandemic. We’re committed to bringing people together in a safe way, to celebrate magic when it’s needed most.

The Changes

For starters, you have a choice. Do you wish to attend in person or online? When you register (and for those who already have) you can decide whether you prefer to attend in person or to enjoy the convention by streaming it from home. All shows, lectures, and events will be viewable online, and we’ll set up virtual tours of the dealer room where you’ll be able to see and purchase the latest releases online. You’ll even be able to hang out in virtual jam sessions with other online viewers, and we (Andi and Josh) will be engaging directly with online viewers to feature interviews with performers and attendees throughout the weekend.

For those who wish to attend in person, please understand that we’re limiting attendance to ensure everyone’s safety. Last year 1,035 people attended Magifest. If a vaccine is widely available and it's safe to do so (and state guidelines permit it), we’ll match this attendance. If a vaccine is not widely available, in-person capacity will be strictly limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.

There is no limit to the number of online attendees, but since in-person attendees will be on a first-come, first-serve basis it’s to your benefit to register now to “lock in” your place, whether or not you’ve decided to attend in person or from your home. The price is the same: just $200 for the entire weekend of festivities. You’ll have until March 1st to commit to attending live or online. ALL registrants, online and live, will also receive a streaming video package with the footage of the entire schedule. In a sense, this is a tremendous feature that no convention has ever offered before, and it’s free of charge.

Here are some measures we’re taking for your safety:

More Space: There will be increased space between seats in the ballroom, less chairs around each “jamming” table in the lobby, and less dealers in more space for our Dealer’s Room. We recognize that seeing friends and swapping tricks is a treasured part of Magifest, so we’ve increased the area for jam-sessions so that magicians can swap tricks while maintaining a safe distance.

Cleanings, and Sanitizer Stations: The Renaissance Hotel will provide sanitation stations and frequent cleanings to railings, chairs, doors, bathrooms, and public areas around the clock.

More Long-Form Shows: This year the focus will be on close-up and parlor magic, and one-person shows.

Warmer: There’s always a silver lining. Magifest is always freezing cold, and there’s always a question about air and car travel if a blizzard occurs. May is going to feel really nice for Magifest--just this once.

The Talent

We view the challenge of an altered convention as an opportunity to take some creative risks. You’re going to see some lectures that will make a worldwide debut at Magifest, on topics that have never before been explored. Our Guest of Honor this year is New York’s Steve Cohen. We’re ENORMOUSLY excited to welcome Steve to our gathering. He almost never appears at conventions, since he’s spent the last twenty years performing weekly at his acclaimed, legendary Chamber Magic show in Manhattan.

We’ve been after Nate Staniforth for years, and he has finally consented to perform and lecture for us. You’ll also see the polished, professional acts from Jon Armstrong, Lucy Darling, and Eric Jones.

We’ve invited Brent Braun back to share with us his unique brand of sleight-of-hand, as well as his approach to consulting for television.

We’ve booked several more performers, and we’ll be rolling out those names throughout the rest of the year.

Staying Flexible

Here’s the truth--nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. We’re hopeful and confident that safer times are ahead. But in the event of a surge or outbreak, or a delay in the vaccine development, we’ll smoothly and calmly transition to an online-only model, where registrants will still enjoy all the events we have planned...from the comfort of home. We view this as an unlikely scenario, but one we’re prepared to accept in the interest of your safety.

We’re more excited than ever to see you in May for the warmest Magifest in its 80-year history.


Joshua Jay and Andi Gladwin
Magifest Organizers

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