Abracadabra, here's everything you'll ever need to know about booking a magician, including the differences between close-up magicians, street magicians, comedy magicians, stage magicians and mind readers! Find out what to expect from their performances, how much space they'll need, how to spot a quality magician, how much they cost and what you need to do to hire a magician for your event.
What is a Magician and what will they do at my event?
Stage / close-up magicians (or illusionists as they’re also known) provide live entertainment for events by performing slight of hand tricks and illusions which appear to make the impossible possible, and the supernatural natural.
The most popular types of magic performed by Magicians for private events are:
Close-up magic: any magic act where the magician is close to his/her audience, and not on a stage. Close-up magicians are sometimes referred to as Mix and Mingle entertainers as they get in amongst your guests, moving around a drinks reception or party performing directly to individual guests and small groups.
Street magic: performed in a seemingly impromptu fashion in a public place, a street magician pulls in an audience of passers-by, often involving them in the magic trick or show. Although street magic is thousands of years old, American magician David Blaine took the concept to new heights in his hit TV series Street Magic in 1997. Street Magic is sometimes referred to as Guerrilla Magic, especially where a brief ‘hit and run’ trick is performed.
Table magicians / table hopping / tableside magic: a close-up / mix and mingle magician who performs tricks for the guests seated at their tables as part of a sit down meal. Table magic is also confusingly the name given to traditional magic performed at a special table owned by the magician.
Slight-of-hand magicians: similar to close-up magic, slight-of-hand magicians specialise in tricks performed without any special props such as cabinets, hats, tubes, etc. Instead they entertain with tricks involving everyday objects, or just coins, cards, watches, etc. Often their show includes 'pickpocketing' audience members.
Micro-illusion / micro-magic: this is the ultimate close-up magic, tricks performed literally in the palm of the hand or in touching distance of the audience members(s) involved.
Mind readers / Psychological entertainers: magicians who appear to be able to read the minds of their audience and 'predict' the outcome of random events. This is achieved through psychological techniques and auto-suggestion.
Comedy-magicians: where stand-up comedy and magic meet! Comedy magicians make you laugh as well as gasp in amazement.
Stage show magicians: a magic show designed to be performed on a stage and watched by a large audience, often including large scale production elements and the addition of glamorous assistants, stage lights, music a wide array of props. Stage magic tricks cover escape, levitation, transformation, transportation, vanishing, producing something-from-nothing, making solid objects pass through each other and prediction. Our stage magicians have designed shows where they’ve made everything from rabbits to a full size Lear Jet aeroplane appear on stage!
If you’re planning an event where you’re going to have 20 or more guests standing around as part of a drinks reception or sitting before a meal, you can hire a magician to entertain them with astounding close-up magic. This is a fantastic way to break the ice and get conversation flowing. A single close-up magician working in a mix-and-mingle style is able to entertain around 125 people over a two hour period.
Example close-up magic video
What to look for in a quality Magician
All of the Magicians on the Alive Network web site have been carefully pre-vetted so they represent the very best of what's available in the UK. We have selected our artist roster from literally thousands of applications so in order to ensure quality all you need to do is choose a Magician from our web site. It's risk free and you have peace of mind that we've already done the hard work for you.
Here are some of the qualities we look for:
1. Membership of the Magic Circle
Since 1905, the best magicians have been members of The Magic Circle, the world's most prestigious magic club, entry to which is by way of a practical exam. Look for membership as a guarantee of excellence.
2. A great promo video showreel
A professional magician will usually have produced a showreel video showcasing their abilities, often including footage from real events. Showreel videos are a great way to check out the style of each magician’s performance, so you can be sure they’re a good match for your event.
3. Great photos
Being able to see that a Magician has made the effort to present themselves professionally shows that they are serious and care about what they do.
4. Client list and previous customer reviews
An experienced magician should be able to demonstrate an impressive list of previous clients, so be sure to read through the biography of each act on their profile page. Make sure you can read genuine reviews from previous customers. You'll find loads of customer reviews for our Magicians readily available here on the Alive Network web site.
5. Competition Winners
Magic competition or magic title winners have proven that their magic is good enough to beat all other magicians, and magicians are a competitive bunch! Every year, the Magic Circle hold competitions, so winners of these are the best of the best.
6. The backing of a reliable agency
No agent, no backup if anything goes wrong. If you book a Magician directly and they let you down either intentionally or unintentionally, you'll be completely on your own trying to find a last minute replacement. This would not be fun on the day of your wedding / event!
Alive Network offers 24 hour-a-day emergency cover, 365 days of the year - with 1000's of artists to fall back on.
If you're looking at companies online, make sure that they clearly advertise their contact details and address (not a PO Box) and that they actually are a real business (as opposed to website run out of a bedroom). Alive Network is the largest entertainment agency in the UK, specialising in live entertainment for private events. We've been in business since 1999 and have booked Magicians for thousands of events - something which you don't get to do without offering a reliable service that customers are happy to recommend.
You get what you pay for, so don't cut corners unless you don't mind risking the success of your event. We represent a wide selection of the UK's best Magicians, all of whom define their own fees, so our prices are a good indicator of what's usual to pay.
The average cost to hire a Close-up Magician for a private event in 2016 was around £440
What exactly will a Magician do at my event? What will the format be?
Magicians are very versatile performers, often requiring very little space to work, but the one thing they do require is an attentive audience! Therefore, it’s common to hire a Magician to perform close-up magic during a drinks reception, table magic before, between or after courses at a sit-down meal, or stage magic for an evening cabaret performance.
In the case of mix and mingle close-up magicians, they will usually arrive at your event around 30 minutes before they are due to start performing and will require very little time to get ready. The maximum performance time most close-up magicians can be booked for is around two hours, and they will usually perform for two hours straight, working their way around the room / reception area to ensure every guest is able to enjoy the show.
Some magicians are able to create bespoke tricks especially for your event, for example making the bride / groom / CEO disappear! Tricks like these will require additional time and planning to integrate into your event and you should discuss this with your Alive Network coordinator.
A close-up magician or street magician is a great way to add excitement and interest to a brand experience event or trade show exhibition stand. They are great at drawing in delegates and potential buyers, highlighting the advantages of your product at the same time as providing wow factor entertainment. You might want to consider hiring a close-up magician for two hours over the ‘peak period’ to gain maximum benefit, or else some magicians may agree to perform for shorter stretches over a ½ day.
What equipment will a Magician require?
Most close-up and street magicians don’t require any equipment. Stage show magicians will require equipment such as PA and lighting, but this varies greatly on the show and will be discussed on an individual basis per event.
For magicians who provide their own equipment or props as part of their show, they will require easy access to the venue from their van/car, and possibly a quiet, clean storage area for any animals involved in their act, such as doves.
Some magic acts may involve smoke or flame effects, which may trigger fire alarms, so check with your venue that such acts are possible if in a room or enclosed space.
How much space will a Magician need?
A close-up magician simply needs enough space for 6-8 guests to gather around them whilst they perform a trick. The space required by Stage Magicians varies from act to act and will be discussed on an individual basis per event.
All magicians will welcome a secure and private room to change in and store props / equipment if they use them. Magicians always need to maintain the secrets behind their tricks, so usually don't want to be observed when setting up / dressing.
How long will a Magician’s performance last?
Two hours is the standard performance time for most mix and mingle close-up magicians (for most events that’s around 5-6 minutes per table or group of people) but it really depends on what impact you’re hoping the magician will have on your event. Street magicians are often hired to perform just one wow-factor trick over a few minutes to kick off a product launch!
Stage magicians will usually perform a cabaret style show lasting 40-60 minutes.
Are there any options available to customise my Magician's performance?
As mentioned previously, it’s possible to have tricks custom designed for your event, such as making the bride / groom / mother in law or company CEO disappear, or even making your new product appear from nowhere! Whatever you have in mind, let your coordinator know and they’ll work to find a Magician who can match your brief.
A popular option for company events which several of our Magician can arrange themselves, is to have branded playing cards printed, which are then given to guests as a gift after tricks have been completed. Magicians can also distribute your company business cards in a similar fashion.
How much will it cost to hire a Magician?
The average cost to hire a Close-up Magician for a private event in 2016 was around £440
The cost of a stage magician is entirely dependent on the size of the show required, and can range from £550 to £5000+
You can get an instant online price including travel costs for all Alive Network Magicians by either entering a search at the top of the Magicians roster page (you need to add your event type, location and date), or by clicking the ‘add to enquiry’ button on your chosen Magician’s profile page where you'll then be asked to enter your event details. Once you enter a search on our web site, we'll filter out all the artists who are unavailable on your event date, and show the price that those who are available would charge to perform in your event location.
The best way to reduce costs is to try to hire a Magician who’s based locally to your event. On the Magicians roster list, click the 'Nearest to me' button above the artist listings to see the available acts on a map! The home town location of all Alive Network Magicians is also shown on the roster pages and also on each acts profile page. You can also ask your coordinator to recommend the best band local to your event.
Why is there a difference between what different Magicians cost?
Generally you’ll pay more for more experienced Magicians who are in demand. A Magician who’s been performing at private events for years will attract a lot of referral work, which allows them to charge a little more than newer acts. The minimum standard of our Magicians is already very high as we carefully vet everyone we work with, but you get what you pay for.
As you’d expect, nationally renowned celebrity Magicians, or those who’ve featured in TV series, also command higher fees due to their profile.
Stage Magicians cost a little more than close-up magicians purely because of the extra equipment used in their performances and the extra time that each performance takes to set up.
When you search our web site for Magicians available on your event date and in your event location, artists who are travelling from outside the area will add travel fees, and these fees are included in the prices you'll see advertised. Travel fees can sometimes be 50% extra on top of the Magician’s local price, so there can be a big difference in the cost of local acts compared to those travelling from outside the area.
What security will I get when booking a Magician?
When you hire a Magician through Alive Network you'll receive a legally binding contract which protects you against any foreseeable eventuality. This means that short of the artist being seriously injured or abducted by aliens, your booking is 100% safe.
You also get the full backing and support of Alive Network, the UK's largest live entertainment agency, as well as the assistance and advice of your personal Alive Network coordinator who will always be on hand to help if you have any questions or concerns.
You can think of Alive Network as your entertainment insurance.
What happens if the Magician is ill?
It's very rare that problems occur, but if the unthinkable does happen, Alive Network will help you to source a replacement artist, even at very short notice. We work with a large number of the UK’s best Magicians and so we have a lot of contacts to fall back on in an emergency.
Alive Network runs a 24 hour-a-day emergency hotline, 365 days of the year, manned by a minimum of six on-call staff. We will always have your back.
If the artist you've booked is ill, and given sufficient notice - you will always be fully informed and involved in agreeing a replacement. If an artist needs to be replaced and you aren't happy with the replacement that we suggest, you can choose another similar priced act from our web site yourself, or else receive a full refund. If you chose a more expensive Magician you would need to pay the difference in price.
If an emergency happens on the day of your event and we cannot contact you, we will liaise with your venue, and send the closest matching alternative Magician so you are not left in the lurch. You still have the option to send the artist away if you are not happy to accept them, but if you do accept them, the terms of your existing contract would transfer to the new artist.
Is there anything I need to provide for the Magician?
They will also require parking at your venue, and if you can ensure they have easy access at the front of the venue to park and unload props and equipment, this will ensure they can get in and get set up quickly.
You will need to provide a changing room (preferable private and secure) as well as refreshments. Soft drinks, water, tea and coffee are usually sufficient, but please make sure you inform the bar staff that these should not be charged to the artist (you might want to set up a tab for them).
For evening cabaret shows the artist may require hot food, please ask your Alive Network coordinator.
Stage magicians will need a stage area with power sockets in close proximity to the stage / performance area. Stage size required depends on the nature of the show, please ask your coordinator for details.
Is there anything else I need to know about booking a Magician?
Top Magician Mathew Knight has compiled a list of tips and suggestions to help you get the best out of hiring a Magician for your event:
" Consider background noise: If a band starts playing or a disco begins, sometimes it can get too loud for a magician to perform their best material. I have specific ‘visual type’ magic that I can perform in these situations but some magicians cannot do this, so try to think about the timing and volume of your music. Background music is expected but loud music can affect the way a performer communicates their act."
"Table magic: If you’re having a sit down meal and you would like the magician to perform at each table (usually in between the dinner service), most people book for 2 hours. This is ideal if you have 30-100 guests and should give the performer enough time to be able to entertain each group of diners. For less than 30 guests you could still book for 2 hours and the magician could do 2 or more performances at each table or stay and perform at the bar when people have finished eating.
“Cabaret show: If you’re having an intimate gathering and you expect all of your guests to be sat around one large table, it may be worth considering hiring a magician to do a cabaret show to entertain your guests. This is similar to ‘Close up Magic’ but is performed to everybody all at once, usually during after dinner coffee or at another appropriate time during your occasion. The performer usually breaks a show up into two sets of around 20 minutes with a short break in the middle. Booking a magician to perform a cabaret show is a lovely way to provide some astonishment for your guests with all the professionalism of a stage show but the intimacy of good ‘Close up Magic’.
How do I make a booking?
To make an enquiry simply submit the enquiry form on the artist's profile page on our web site (click the 'add to basket' button and follow the instructions) or give us a call on 0845 108 5500.
Once we have all your event details we will contact the Magician to confirm their availability, discuss any requests you might have made, and get a confirmed quote.
Once your Alive Network coordinator sends you a confirmed quote and you're happy with it, simply let them know that you'd like to secure a booking with the artist. You can do this via phone or email. They will contact the artist to confirm the booking based on the quote submitted.
You will then be required to pay a deposit, usually over the phone by credit card, and we will send you and the artist a booking confirmation form which shows exactly what you've both agreed to and all your event logistics.
Once we've sent you the booking confirmation, both you and the artist have 48 hours in which to cancel the agreement should you no longer wish to go ahead, otherwise your booking is in place and is non-cancellable.
If you need to discuss any aspect of your booking, or if you need to make any changes, your dedicated Alive Network coordinator will be on hand to support you as much as you need.
You will be put in touch with the Magician approximately 3-4 weeks before your event to run over the arrangements, fine tune the details and make any changes necessary.