Wizard fans in York have something new to look forward, as something magic this way comes…
Local magician The Magic Hatter has brought his award-winning entertainment to the streets, with the Wizard Walk of York. Starting from The Shambles, the walk takes visitors on a tour of York’s alleys and snickleways in a search of magical creatures. Guests can expect comedy, magic, mystery, excitement and more wizard puns than you shake a wand at.
Developed by Magic Hatter Entertainments, entertainer Dan Wood (The Magic Hatter) decided to branch out and try something new, after lockdowns put his parties and other live shows on hold.
“I was used to performing for hundreds of people at a time at places like Piglets Adventure Farm and Murton Park. Suddenly all that stopped due to the pandemic, and so I took it as an opportunity to develop something new and open-air that will hopefully appeal to both locals and tourists.”
As well as regular public tours, the Hatter – now known as The Wizard of York – is also offering private bookings for groups including birthdays, schools, brownies and cubs. The walk is suitable for all ages, but is expected to be most popular with ages six to twelve in particular.
Families can book the Wizard Walk of York online via the new wizarding website at www.wizardwalkofyork.com and can follow the new venture on Facebook and Instagram @WizardWalkofYork
Where did the idea come from? I’m a big fan of the wizarding world, and could see how popular the theme was becoming in York. I trained in children’s theatre, love magic and enjoy storytelling, so decided to combine my skills and interests and take to the streets! I set out to create an experience that is not only magical and memorable, but also good value for families.
What challenges have you faced setting up the Wizard Walk? It was tricky at first to scale down my act to fit in just wizard pockets and a bag! I am used to doing big shows at events; my annual Christmas shows for example feature big tricks, boxes, backdrops and several vans full of props. My experience as a Giggle Doctor in hospitals has helped me to simplify what I carry though, and to use things that pack small but play big.
How is this different from your usual shows? I’ve led tours outside before, and it does throw up a few logistical issues. The British weather isn’t always on our side and this walk runs in almost all conditions (bring a brolly!) I’ve had to think carefully about my costume, the props I use and where I can tell each story. I’ll keeping working on my…sunny spells!
Tell us more about your costume
I’ve had a fully-bespoke wizard costume made – complete with cloak, frock coat, waistcoat and hat. It’s a new look for The Magic Hatter, but already feels familiar. Of course, I’ve had lots of pockets and secret panels added to house all my wizarding wares. I’m not playing an old wizard, but rather a quirky and eccentric guide who sometimes muddles his smells…er ‘spells’…and who delights in sharing magical surprises.
Where does the tour take place? Walks begin from the bottom of The Shambles, opposite The Golden Fleece. With its cobbled streets and crooked buildings, it looks like something lifted from the pages of a wizarding tale so is an ideal starting point. As the tour is aimed at a family audience, it isn’t a long trek (around an hour) and has plenty of stops including Mad Alice Lane, York Minster, St William’s College and even a sweet shop.
Can visitors expect to learn about the history of York? There are few facts and figures in the mix but this isn’t a historical tour, nor is it a ghost walk. It’s an alternative to the many other walks already available – fully family-friendly and packed with whimsical wizard fun!
What else is on offer?
I’ve developed new Wizard Wand Kits as an optional extra. I’ve been offering the more traditional black and white wands for years, but have fully redesigned the kit with a handcrafted wizard wand, instructions for seven tricks and a printable certificate to download. Young witches and wizards can wave the wand along with the tour then learn the tricks when they get home!
What are you most looking forward to?
Having regular audiences again! During lockdown I created videos for magic fans to stream online. They were well received but it wasn’t the same as hearing the laughter and excitement in person. The response to the new walk has been amazing, and thankfully the diary is filling up again. I’m starting to get back into hospitals, and return to Piglets Adventure Farm over Easter so things seem to be moving in the right direction. Here’s to a magical 2022!