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Geeky Parent Guide: Celebrating 20 Years of ‘Harry Potter’

The British Library is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with a new exhibit, “Harry Potter: A History of Magic.” This display will stand for approximately four months, as a “thrilling, new exhibition that will showcase a fascinating display of wizarding books, manuscripts, and magical objects and combine centuries-old British Library treasures with original material from Bloomsbury’s and J.K. Rowling’s own archives.” Bloomsbury Publishing has partnered with the library for the original work’s publication anniversary.

Along with the new exhibit, the British Library will have many events to help commemorate twenty years of Harry Potter. Let’s take a look at some of these events, and then explore how far the wizarding fandom extends.

“Picturing Magic”

“You’ll learn the fundamentals of good illustration and how best to bring your ideas to life on paper, before binding your artwork in a compendium.” This course spans six weeks, learning from professional artists and revolving around elements represented in the exhibition – “from magical plants to creatures and objects.”

“Off the Shelf”

Fans will have the opportunity to “join actor Noma Dumezweni, the first to play Hermione on stage in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and a Pottermore representative, as they discuss the way in which books can travel beyond the shelves.”

“Brooms, Wands and Cauldrons: Instruments of Magic”

This is a lecture from “Simon Costin of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic [looking] at the instruments, objects, and tools that have been used by witches and wizards over the centuries, from the iconic to the lesser-known.”

“Harry Potter Quiz Night”

This quiz night has already sold out all of the five event dates. These trivia nights will “test your knowledge of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, see how you fare against our Curator’s Curious Conundrum, and win some brilliant prizes.” How well do you know Harry Potter? Are there trivia nights in your area that revolve around the Wizarding World?

These are only some of the events the British Library has planned to celebrate 20 years of magic, but the fandom of Harry Potter and his friends does not end there. In fact, having all of the Quiz Nights sell out, including the ones in January and February of next year, is a perfect example of how much people love to get together and share their knowledge and appreciation for such a beloved series. Beyond a film franchise, theme park, and themed bars, what else can fans do to celebrate their favorite fictional fandom?

Well, it turns out fans don’t have to go anywhere to enjoy their favorite characters – some towns transform into the world created by J.K. Rowling. This isn’t just an isolated instance either. There are several cities that have turned their communities into fantastical festivals.

Third Annual Chestertown HP Festival
Chestertown, Maryland
October 6 – 7, 2017

This festival has a plethora of events, including costume contests, classes to “perfect your leviosa spell,” and “practice your giant bubble patronus,” and a Quidditch tournament. For families interested in attending these fun events, “activities are free, unless otherwise noted. Donations are always welcome, and 100% of proceeds benefit local non-profits including the Garfield Center for the Arts and the Kent County Public Library.”

Don’t forget to check out their promo video to see some of the action.

Third Annual Harry Potter Festival USA
Jefferson, Wisconsin
October 20 – 22

The opening event sets the stage for the weekend, as anyone can attend the Lighted Festival Parade. Guests will need to purchase a wristband for entry on the second and third day, and they’ll get access to the Serpent’s Corn Maze, a display with “your favorite scenes from the books and movies faithfully recreated in LEGO form,” and a chance to participate in Wizard’s Chess!

You’ll also have the opportunity to “get your personalized acceptance letter” at the Owl Post, learn about magical plants, and see live action of “college Quidditch teams from across the country [playing].”

Check out their full list of events for more information.

Seventh Annual Chestnut Hill Harry Potter Festival
Chestnut Hill, PA
October 20 – 21

The festival starts with “Wands & Wizards Night on the Avenue: An Evening of Potions, Pubs, and Magical Possibilities.” Attendees have a chance to participate in a costume contest, watch aerialists perform, or enjoy an “out of this world” evening with a night of Astronomy.

There will also be plenty of opportunities for scenic photos relatable to the Harry Potter world, face painting, crafts, stage performances, food trucks, and the Philadelphia Brotherly Love Cup Quidditch Tournament returning for its eighth year.

Check out their schedule for more activities and their available parking areas.

If you’re looking for something a little more academic, the Harry Potter Conference in its sixth year, sponsored by Chestnut Hill College, “provides a forum for scholarly presentations arising out of J.K. Rowling’s literature.”

Pitman Potter Festival
Pitman, NJ
October 20 – 21

The first-year festival has sold out of wristbands, but there are plenty of activities where they aren’t required. “Get ready to experience the fusion of science and storytelling,” with interactive experiments led by Science Tellers.

There’s also the Witch & Wizard’s Dance Party, a chance to watch others’ trivia knowledge, as registration has closed to participate, and visitors can listen to “Pitman’s Own Wizard Rock Band.”

Don’t forget to check out their full list of events.

Other festival locations:

Festival of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Edmonton, Alberta
October 13

Harry Potter Festival
Swedesboro, NJ
October 28

Use a “Time Turner” to earlier this year:

Potter Fest
The College at Brockport
May 6

Roanoke Harry Potter Festival
Roanoke, VA
May 11

Harry Potter Festival
Aurora, IL
July 30

Harry Potter Festival
Waynesboro, PA
August 18 – 19

Baltimore, MD
September 8 – 10

Queen City Mischief & Magic
Staunton, VA
September 22 – 24

The fandom attached to the world in and around Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is tremendous. People want to know what house they belong to – Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, or Ravenclaw – as they imagine putting on the Sorting Hat. Reading books and watching movies are only part of it – attending special events and parks, and also towns casting spells to transport guests to the magical realm, are something completely different and wonderful. It’s a pure love of fantasy and wanting to be a part of that world, to be a wizard or witch.

Fans want to get carried away – they want to imagine their broom will send them soaring across the sky or seeking after the “Golden Snitch.” Is it imagination when you believe your flick of the wand will cause your cupcake to levitate?

Next time on the Geeky Parent Guide, we’ll explore the importance of one character to the series. In a world filled with many wonderful people and events, it’s not necessarily easy to decidedly say that one character is the “anchor” for Harry Potter. It’ll be a personal look at what this one character means, not only to the franchise, but to this geeky parent.

Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.

S.T. Lakata, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor



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