European Championships in Magic 2024

We all have dreams.

May they be achievable, rational or totally bonkers, we have goals we want to make happen no matter what it takes.

For me, it has been my dream since I got into magic to create an act, go to F.I.S.M and win.

Well, I’ve been to my first F.I.S.M. And my eyes were opened to what these championships really are. For those wishing to know what competing at F.I.S.M. is really like, here is a breakdown of what it is and my highs and lows of attending my first ever European Championships.

For all the muggles who do not know I suppose I should break down what exactly F.I.S.M is to magicians all over the world.

Think Olympics but with Magic!

F.I.S.M. represents the best of the best in the world. I know that I said to my family and friends before attending this convention that it’s like the olympics of magic – to give them a feeling. But this competition truly is elite. You will witness the best of the best and I promise you will not be disappointed in attending this competition.

For all the normal people out there what is F.I.S.M?

F.I.S.M is The International Federation of Magic Societies (FISM) (Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques) was founded on September 5, 1948, and is one of the most respected organisations in the magic community.

It is an international body coordinating dozens of national and international clubs and federations around the world. Together these clubs represent approximately 80,000 magicians from 50 countries and 110 member organisations as of 2022.[1] The organization hosts a self-named “FISM” conference every three years, where magicians compete for “Best of” categories.

FISM organises a worldwide magic convention every three years. And magicians travel all over the world to compete for the title World Magic Champion. One of my hero’s in magic, Laurent Piron is the current General Stage magic champion.

In the lead up to the world championships there is another large scale contest, The European Championships which was held this year in Saint Vincent, Italy.

How do you get to perform there?

  1. You must have an act that reaches F.I.S.M. standard. This is usually judged by entering F.I.S.M recognised competitions and achieving a prize.
  2. You must be a resident in and represent a F.I.S.M affiliated magic club in your country who will act as your sponsor.

Although number one is advisable. I did this myself. I competed in and was awarded a prize for my act before attending this competition. However, I cannot express how high the level of the F.I.S.M. contest is. I was shocked. It was beyond what I expected. Realistically winning at a local magic competition in one’s country and competing at F.I.S.M. level are just worlds apart. Not impossible but there is journey that is required and a higher level that is expected – and rightly so.

Best Advice I can give

You need to visit F.I.S.M. at least once to understand what it takes to become a champion and see what is actually possible with hard work and dedication to the art form of magic. Some of the magicians who performed there have been working on their acts solidly for the last 5 to 10 years. And really, it showed. The winners were totally at ease on stage in this competitive environment. The acts they brought were skilled and composed beautifully.

The performances I saw at this competition were mindblowingly good. And even though I am very proud of what I have achieved by developing an act in just 9 months and taking it to represent at this level and “showcasing” myself as an artist. I realise (quite sadly) that I am no where near the level that is required to achieve my goal… yet.

It is not an impossible goal, but one I realise that will take more time. I have some growing to do as an artist before I might get to where I wish to be.

We are such stuff as dreams are made on

On a slight side note. One of the things I loved about F.I.S.M. was that as a spectator what you get to observe is peoples ideas. Every performer that walks on that stage has brought an idea. A dream. Their dream of what magic is and made it come to life on stage. When you begin to think about the acts in this manner every one of them has it’s own unique charm – even if you do not particularly like a performance style.

My personal journey to the European Championships

I suppose I should begin by saying that I was never really ready to compete at this level. But did that stop me – heck no!

It begin as a dream when last summer I was asked by Peter Corry to join his touring production “The Showman is Coming” where he wanted a solo stage magic act. Which I did not at the time have.

I always wanted to build a fluffy magic act i.e.silks, flowers, glitter something that appealed to my more feminine side of my personality.

Last year whilst attending Tom Stone’s Conjuring Course 3, prior to going into rehearsals for the Peter Corey production, I began building the bare bones of the act I presented at F.IS.M.

It ended up being a three minute piece of punchy appearing magical effects which suited the circus showman feel of the world I was entering.

By getting to perform this act 28 times in huge theatre venues across the Netherlands I not only got to try out a skill that was completely new to me – performing on large stages and being the one in the lead role presenting my piece. But I also had to make and build the props and costume from scratch. All of which I had no prior experience in making.

The Highs and the Lows

I can say after going through this experience that it has been a journey costume wise. One that is both unfinished and hasn’t been a particularly enjoyable one.

The job of hiding and making many parasols appear from one’s body has literally been the bane of my life this last year. There have been so many tears and anger and moments when I was about to just give up.

And then, I have also had some amazing moments and one of them was after working through the problems and getting the costume to the stage with the cast of the showman routing for me and for the magic to work. They all knew that this was a brand new act and they couldn’t be more supportive of me every time I entered that stage, produced Kazoo’s Kazoo and began producing flowers, silks and umbrellas to hold. It didn’t always go to plan and something new happened a different way every single show.

In a way, this was the best way to build a new act, with people all around me supporting me on stage and I am very grateful for this rather soft beginning to this piece’s creation.

I guess that is ultimately how we magician’s become better at what we do. We work through all the issues until there are none. The work to perfection never stops!

Competing to practice

Just before this tour I decided to compete at the Swedish Magic Championships in Magic in Stockholm.

This was another chance to see how far the act had come and get it in front of another audience.

Competing here was also a very difficult but rewarding experience for me and if you want to read more about it please click this link to the blog here. It’s a video so you can have a quick watch and then scoot back here to read the rest of this post.

Aiming for the stars!

The week after this competition that I thought I might have a chance to go to F.I.S.M. By recieving a Grand Prix in Stage Magic made me feel if I did not take this opportunity now I don’t know when this might happen again.

So I contacted Moira of the British Ring and asked her would the club sponsor me to which she happily replied Yes!

On top of which my good friend Oliver Tabor (past president of the I.B.M. British Ring) would act as our captain. A friendly face to guide us through this terrifying experience step by step.

And I am truly grateful for all that Oliver did for the U.K. team including flying out to be with us and support us in Italy – what a legend!

Douglas Tilston a.k.a. The Hatter
(or The Matter as he became known in the programming 😀 )
Nikola Arkane
Taylor Morgan

My dream was becoming a reality and I was going to F.I.S.M. to represent the British Ring and the United Kingdom at the European Championships.

I also brought this act to The Magic Castle and performed it in 29 times to really get comfortable being on the stage.

Although there were so many amazing magical moments at this convention and in this process, there were also many low points and I want to be honest about that side of the journey too. Most people when they write about stuff they make everything wonderful and leave out all the bad things – well not this girl. You get a blow by blow honest account. Not only for fairness but also for my own sanity.

These blogs are literally saving me thousands of pounds on well overdue therapy!

The Process: An honest breakdown of expenses.

When entering this competition you must fill and get the president of the FISM associated club sponsoring you to counter sign the document and send it off to Priska Walther who is in charge of submissions for competing. This I did in November 2023.

In order to secure my place in the competition (i.e. so the people knew I was definitely attending), I first booked my ticket to F.I.S.M which cost £350.00.

I then booked a hotel and flights which came in at around £1150.00. And then because of the location of the event I also hired a car which cost around £350.00. This all had to be booked and paid for prior to attending the convention and even knowing if I was able to compete.

The process of applying to compete in F.I.S.M. as it stands now meant I did not hear back until the 1st week in March in 2024 that my application had been reviewed and accepted (I sent it in in November 2023) – a very long wait!

Once that happened I then was asked by Masters of Magic to pay an entrance fee of £60.

On top of this I spent an enormous amount of money to build the act which was split into these categories.

  1. Costume
  2. Props
  3. Magic effects
  4. Equipment
  5. Tools
  6. Hiring a Rehearsal space
  7. Paying flights for a director to come to Belfast and work with me prior to competing.
  8. Flights to go to America to perform my act at The Magic Castle in March to get more time on stage to ready myself for the competition.
  9. Petrol to drive around the country sourcing all of the above.

I am sure there are many more things I spent money on during this period but in total from what I can gather from my savings depletion I have spent in and around £6,000 on these categories alone.

So, if you do wish to take an act to this level this is just one example of what you might expect to spend getting there.

Was it worth it?

Yes! And no.

In the sense that I got to meet and watch so many talented performers across this weekend and share magic with them was a bonus in itself.

I got to get my name out there and people seen me not only as a magician but as a woman representing magic in front of my peers. I am glad for the moments I had with people and the magic I got to witness.

And I got to create this cool act. was it an award winning act at F.I.S.M Level? No. But my god the work and effort I put into this and the stuff I learnt is worth so much more than any prize. I will learn from this experience and become a better person and performer from it.

But… and I’m being brutally honest…

For all the time, money and heartache I spent bringing this act to this competition I dreamed of entering it did not go well (well in my head anyway). The judges awarded me 53 points. Which for those of you that don’t know is just 3 marks off being disqualified from the competition. I was beyond disappointed with myself. And it has taken sometime to reflect upon it since.

The reality of dreaming

Here are some of the things I have been contemplating inside my mind since performing and returning home to Belfast..

If this is what the competition is and the standard that is required I am seriously questioning now whether or not I wish to continue down the path to achieve my dream that I started out in magic with. Because, I’m not there. I’m not even close.

The acts who succeeded all have way more knowledge of magic, skills and funding than I probably will ever have and I’m not sure how in the world I am going to obtain what I need to get there.

The standard feels beyond my capabilities. And it upsets me to say that I think this might be the end of my F.I.S.M journey. At times I feel like just giving up.

After seeing what is required I know that I will need to not only dedicate even more time to this dream than I did in the last nine months. But, I will also need to fund it. Which is looking more difficult every day.

Currently the price to attend the next F.I.S.M. The World Championships is £699.00 a ticket. More than double what it was to attend this year. And I really do not know right now if I have the income to fund myself to go again. And also the resilience required to get myself there.

Funding options

Being self employed all my earnings go into creating what I do and to be quite honest, recently I have not been as busy as of late. Families are struggling right now and I feel that the first luxury that is cut is entertainment. I’m probably earning half of what I did this year since beginning my career.

Although most won’t I am not afraid to admit this has been my worst year in business. I’ve had more cancellations than I have ever had. And finally, after 15 years of avoiding it and not needing to, I am having to take non refundable deposits from customers to secure bookings and prevent no shows and cancellations. This is also off putting to customers and difficult to implement.

I have been looking into sourcing public funding for the arts however, in Northern Ireland the major funder; The Arts Council in Northern Ireland, has offered no funding for individuals for the last 12 months. After some research I have also discovered today that I cannot apply for funding from The Art’s Council England and Ireland.

So I am not sure what my best option is right now.

With my savings almost dwindled from this F.I.S.M attempt I think it might be best to rebuild them before I can make another attempt. Perhaps my next F.I.S.M might have to be the next European championships in Spain. Which isn’t a bad thing as that gives me two years to really work on my act.

Who knows what the future holds

I’m not making any final decisions yet.

But attending this event has changed my outlook on magic and competitions and I’m going to have to go away and do some soul searching for a bit. I’ve worked incredibly hard and I am proud of what I have achieved. But I feel F.I.S.M is now a longer term goal. One that might take several years to accomplish.

Right now, I’m taking some time to myself to rest, learn, grow and do some things that I love.

That includes being FizzWizzPop for the month of June performing in Schools – thankfully there is always end of school parties to keep the bank balance going.

And I am also delighted to say that as you are reading this blog I am on my way home from a trip to Edinburgh to see my absolute idol – Taylor Swift in concert!

I finished this blog just before flying out and I am hoping to be inspired by seeing this amazing woman I admire live!

Perhaps I’ll find the inspiration to continue down this road again in being in the presence of the greatness that is Taylor Swift..

But for now, it’s most definitely time for some quality me time.

Over and out!


P.S. If you want to watch a fun video recap of my first F.I.S.M and the journey in sped up format. Click this link!

P.P.S Taylor did not disappoint!!!

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