Shoppers were confronted with tricks of all types as Fargate, the Peace Gardens and Barkers Pool played host to Sheffield’s first Street Magic Festival.
More than 40 magicians, most of them local, entertained small groups of passers-by before a grand stage show rounded off the day outside the City Hall.
It was the last of the council’s Summer Saturdays programme for this year, designed to encourage more trade in the city centre.
But to most people the event came as a complete – and pleasant – surprise.
“It’s amazing, just brilliant – I had no idea this was happening but it’s a really good idea,” said Michael Lister from Walkley, who was in Fargate with his wife Mekalah and two children.
“There’s just so much going on – this is something that would have brought me into town if I’d have known about it, definitely.”
Magician Ashton Carter said he was more used to performing at private parties than in the streets.
“It’s a fantastic idea. Sheffield has a really great magic scene with a close community of magicians and it’s seems everyone has come down to make this a success,” he said.
“The reaction from people has been great. The magicians are mostly local but there are people here from places like Worksop and Hull too because you have to be really good and get gigs pretty much every day.”
Organiser Russell Hall, of city firm Magick Enterprises, said the event had been put together in seven weeks.
“There’s a lot of talent in this city and the festival is bringing it to a wider audience. And judging by the smiles on people’s faces everyone is enjoying it.”
One of the younger generation of performers was 13-year-old Toby Hudson, a pupil at Handsworth Grange School.
He said: “I’ve been playing magic tricks for five years now, it takes lots of practice and you have to do it every day. I mostly have card tricks but I do others with elastic bands.
“But I probably won’t be doing this for a living.”