More than 1,300 magicians from around the world will descend upon Louisville starting Tuesday to participate in the IBM-SAM Combined Magicians Convention. A handful will compete in the “North American Magic Championship,” which some call the “Olympics of Magic.”
The convention brings together members of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and Society of American Magicians for the four-day convention at the Galt House. The event was last held in Louisville in 2008.
On Friday, the championship is open to the public at the Kentucky Center for Performing Arts. Dozens of magicians submitted acts for consideration with only 14 being selected to compete in the stage category and 13 in close-up magic. The winners will advance to next year’s World Grand Championships of Magic in Busan, South Korea, held by the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques. The FISM is held only once every three years and is considered the highest award in magic.
In addition to the competition on Friday, every other night of the convention there will be shows at the Kentucky Center featuring multiple magicians and performers. More than 24 performers are expected to take the stage over the four-day event.
The general public can purchase tickets to any of the nightly shows for $25 a ticket.
Close to 50 different dealers will be selling their wares — supplies for illusions and stage acts. There will also be 14 lectures on technique and performance available to registered attendees.
Native Louisvillians Lance Burton and Max King will be honored during the convention for their many contributions to the world of magic.
Burton has largely retired from magic but is hosting the Louisville premiere of his 2015 movie, “Billy Topit, Master Magician,” in which he stars in and directed, at the Kentucky Center Tuesday night.
Burton had four television specials in the 1980s and 90s and headlined in Vegas at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino for more than three decades, performing more than 15,000 shows for over 5,000,000 people and winning Best Magician in Vegas for 11 years.
King, famous for his distinctive plaid suit, rope tricks and guzzling goldfish, still performs his family friendly “The Mac King Comedy Magic Show” at Harrah’s Casino in Las Vegas. He’s also an author of four books about magic.
King and Burton last appeared in Louisville together during the first (and last, so far) Louisville International Festival of Magic, Illusion and the Unusual in 2013, which King helped produce.
Registration for the convention is currently only available on site at the Galt House for $595 for the entire weekend. Evening shows, banquets and breakfasts are extra.