The magic industry has experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years, helped by film and television.
But British magician James More said the battle to impress is becoming increasingly difficult in an age of special effects.
He is part of a new generation of magicians trying to impress an increasingly sceptical audience.
"We're seeing CGI, special effects in movies, we're used to seeing the impossible these days," he said. "And for magic to impress people, and to amaze them is becoming ever more challenging,"
Portuguese magician Luis De Matos said that the appeal of magic comes down to knowledge.
"Mankind realised that by knowing something that others don't, we are able to generate some sort of admiration," he said.
He said it is understood and appreciated across cultures, and does not require a common language.
"Magic is the only art form where you actually don't need to know anything about it in advance to enjoy it," he said.
South Korean magician Yu Ho-Jin, who specialises in card tricks, said he developed an interest in magic from an early age.
"When I was younger a friend showed me a card trick and I loved it. I was inspired. It was then my dream to learn more about magic and I focussed on it."
He said magic only became popular in South Korea 10 years ago, as young people began watching artists perform tricks on the internet.
The Sydney Festival will run fron January 9-26.