Be prepared for a scary dose of magic. An official Harry Houdini séance will be held in the Garrison Room on Citadel Hill on October 31 (7pm, $45).
The death of Houdini still mystifies fans. Houdini died on October 31, 1926 from appendicitis, which may or may not have been caused by two McGill University students hitting him in the stomach. Before his death, he promised his wife Bess that we would try to communicate from the afterlife. Since 1947, a small, loyal group of believers have held the official séance each year on the anniversary of Houdini's death.
Houdini's connection with Halifax runs deep. He performed in the city in 1896 as a young performer. "Houdini had his first headline performance in Dartmouth," says Bruce MacNab, event organizer and author of The Metamorphosis: The Apprenticeship of Harry Houdini. "We chose the Citadel because it's such an iconic place in Halifax."
Opening entertainment includes performances by New York-based magician Margaret Steele, local magician Mister J—who wooed the investors from Dragons' Den—and illusionist Lucas Wilson, who holds three Guinness Book of World Records for speediest straitjacket escape. Singer Laura Smith will sing Paul Dresser’s 1893 song, “Rosie, Sweet Rosabel,” a song of special significance to Houdini, and Alan Hatfield, a veteran medium from Pictou County First Nation, will lead the séance.
Whether Houdini decides to re-visit Halifax or not, MacNab believes the event will be a scary and entertaining thrill. "Houdini spent his whole life discrediting fake mediums but he believed in the afterlife," says MacNab. "If anyone could communicate from the afterlife, it would be him."