“ Address: 2 Byron Place / Bristol / BS8 1JT „
Illusions Magic Bar was first established in Bristol in 2007. It is one of my favourite places if I'm going for a night out in that part of town and gives a fun experience that is completely different to the rest of the nightlife on offer. It's located at The Triangle, which is at the top of Park Street. My first (and only) negative is that you have to walk up a giant steep hill to get there if you're going from the centre of town. It's a cool place to have a few drinks and start the night off, but it's quite out of the way if you're then planning to head back to the centre for the rest of the night so you may need to be prepared to do some walking!
Illusions is a bar with a twist, and the twist is that it's not just an ordinary bar, it's a Magic Bar! There are live magic shows performed here 5 nights a week, from Tuesday to Saturday. I love watching magic shows and find magic tricks fascinating, and Illusions gives you a really fun experience. There is a main bar which serves drinks, and they are very reasonably priced. You can buy spirits for £3.50 single measure or £4.50 double measure, a pint of beer costs between £3.00 - £4.00, and there are 2-4-1 offers on cocktails. Across the other side of the venue there is a separate bar area where the magic shows are performed. There are no drinks served here, it's a performance area only, so you can go grab a drink from the main bar as you enter and then take a seat across the way to watch the show. It's nice that the area is separated as you don't get any through traffic and you can sit and watch the show in peace without being disturbed, although if you do want to go and get another drink you'll probably lose your seat! It's worth noting that this is the only place in the bar where the magicians perform, so you can choose to go and watch if you like, or sit and drink elsewhere if you prefer and you won't be interrupted by anyone performing at your table as they stick to the designated bar space.
Each magic show lasts for approximately 20 minutes, and they run from 7pm until 1am, with a new show starting every half hour. The best thing about this is that it's completely FREE! You do not have to pay any door charge to get in, and there is no charge to watch the magic show. That said, it is good form to provide a tip afterwards to thank the magician for their performance and I am always happy to do this as I really enjoy seeing the shows. There are a limited number of front row seats at the magic show bar, so it's a good idea to get seated a few minutes before the next show starts so you can get a good view point. The magicians are really engaging and like to involve the audience with their tricks, which is really fun and I am always amazed at how they manage to mislead you even when you're directly involved with the trick. Some of the tricks are quite commonplace and you will have probably seen before, but there is a good variety and a number of different performers so you never get bored, and most will try to add a touch of humour to lighten the mood and keep you interested. I went there for my birthday drinks this year and had a fantastic time with my best friends, we each got to help perform a trick and were still talking about it for days afterwards, trying to figure out how it all worked.
As well as putting on the magic shows, Illusions also offers karaoke, open mic nights and live music. Personally, when I go there I am only ever interested in the magic and I haven't seen any of the other entertainment. There is usually some generic chart music playing in the background which is inoffensive enough. In terms of decor the venue itself is a little bit rough around the edges, but it's clean and comfortable with some nice big sofas to lounge on when you're not at sat at the performance area. The magic theme is obvious and you can even see some evidence of where tricks have been performed previously, with signed playing cards littered across the ceiling! I had almost forgotten another negative point, but I feel it's necessary to mention that you have to practically be a contortionist to get into the ladies room! There is a tiny corridor which quickly gets very cramped, and there's usually a bit of a squeeze to manoeuvre your way in and out, but that's a minor point for me and I wouldn't mark the place down just because of that.
I would definitely recommend checking out Illusions Magic Bar, it's a unique place and is well worth a visit if you like magic. There aren't many places that offer free entertainment, and I have always been impressed with the shows that I've seen. The magic shows are good fun, the performers are skilled and do their best to make everyone happy, and the bar staff are always friendly and helpful. The door staff get a special mention for being very polite and providing directions to a rather drunk birthday girl (oops, that would be me!), and unlike a lot of door staff, they are always happy to have a nice little chat as well as making sure that the place stays safe.
Illusions has a great atmosphere and going there always leaves me with a smile on my face.
Go there! And take me with you! :)
Illusions Magic Bar
2 Byron Place, Bristol, BS8 1JT
Tel 0117 909 3405 Email email@example.com
Tuesday - 7pm - 1am - with Live Magic from 7pm
Wednesday - 7pm - 1am - with Live Magic from 7pm
Thursday - 7pm - 1am - with Live Magic from 7pm & Karaoke 10pm
Friday - 7pm - 3am - with Live Magic from 7pm & Live Music from 10pm
Saturday - 7pm - 4am - with Live Magic from 7pm & Live Music from 10pm