10 years of magic, mayhem, music... and all that jazz!

The first Showzam! in Blackpool, 10 years ago. Pics by Barry McCann
The first Showzam! in Blackpool, 10 years ago. Pics by Barry McCann
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This year marks the 10th year of Blackpool’s annual festival celebrating magic, variety and live performance – Showzam!

And journalist, broadcaster and Memory Lane contributor Barry McCann was there when it all started.

He shared these fantastic pictures which he took, in 2008, of the very first Showzam! festival.

The first Showzam! featured – among other attractions – a circus parade, fire illuminations, an Asian magical mela, a burlesque ball and even a wasp tamer.

The idea behind the two-week February half-term event was to build on the resort’s entertainment heritage and showcase its works-class links in the areas of circus, magic and variety. It was one of a programme of signature events in Blackpool being supported by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), with many of the events being free.

Among those performing were modern-day Harry Houdini – escapologist Danny Hunt, who performed a modern version of the infamous Water Torture escape and escaped from a coffin before two trucks would have torn him limb from limb.

The magical mela featured two-times Guinness World Record-holder, illusionist Shahid Malik, and the Pleasure Beach welcomed the Travelling Circus Museum and Insect Circus.

An exhibition called Showtown took place at the Winter Gardens, featuring 100 of the most iconic posters from Blackpool shows. Burlesque cabaret club and agency Whoopee held a magical 1920s and ballet Russe-inspired carnival ball and a variety show took place at the Grand Theatre.

Barry said: “It featured the first Blackpool appearance of Carnesky’s Ghost Train. I later found out the ghoulish station mistress I did high-fives with was Paloma Faith!

“She also appeared at the Showzam! Variety Show at the Grand Theatre, hosted by the very naughty Miss Behave. Paloma then went on to national fame, of course.”

Read more about this year’s programme of events for Showzam! here