Still Going Strong

A friend and I went to the first annual Harry Potter Festival in Aurora, Illinois. I know what you want to know: Why is this the first one when the last book debuted a decade ago? Picture me shrugging.


Anyhoo, we braved the crowd of around five thousand people. The Harry Potter fandom is still going strong here. The crowd would have been six times that amount had the tickets not sold out within a matter of hours weeks ago. The event planners tried to keep the crowd small (ha) since this was the inaugural event.

Here’s the festival layout.


A tiny Hogwarts Express

The river nearby

We headed to a Care of Magical Creatures event, sponsored by SOAR (see the yellow sign in the photo below to learn what the letters stand for), which mostly involved rescued owls. But no snowy owls. They don’t migrate this far.


Dickens, the great horned owl depicted on a movie poster for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Yes, this owl is old. You can read more about her here.

Directors from SOAR with tiny owls rescued by SOAR. I soooo want one. But owls make horrible pets, we were told.

Then we had to have butterbeer. It was delicious! And no, that is not my hand in the photo below.

In Diagon Alley, we checked out the wares of the many vendors hawking wands, essential oils (the potions aspect of Harry Potter), jewelry, hats, and, inexplicably, soap.

We wanted to take in a Quidditch event at the Quidditch Pitch. But everyone had to register for that before the festival. Plus, the downtown area of Aurora is pretty big. Even the library is three times larger than any other library in my area. Some of the events were several blocks away from each other and had long waiting lines. There was no way we could get to all of the events in the amount of time designated for the festival (five hours).

But of course we went to the sorting event, which was held at the Aurora Regional Fire Museum. And of course, there was a huge line for that one. Unfortunately, though I’m usually sorted into Gryffindor, this time I was sorted into Slytherin House.

Not. Happy.

A little boy burst into tears upon being sorted into Slytherin. The sorting hat was forced to choose again for him. Yep. Gryffindor.   

What I loved about this festival is the fact that so many people still love the books and love showing up to participate in activities geared toward them. I can’t think of another festival dedicated to a book series that draws thousands of people willing to walk around in the burning hot sun, some wearing hot robes.

Have you attended a Harry Potter Festival? Would you go to one if you could?

P. S. Happy birthday, Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling!

Photos by L. Marie. Movie poster from

28 thoughts on “Still Going Strong

  1. Looks like a fun outing, L. Marie. Well, since I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books, it probably wouldn’t be fair for me to take of space. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your day with us.

    • It was fun, Jill. The tickets were only sold on one day months ago. My friend stood in line with hundreds of people, who were only allowed to buy a maximum of four tickets. I think next year, they’ll try to accommodate more people.

  2. Sounds like fun, LM.

    Here’s another author whose literary festivals draw thousands . . . 200 years after publication of her books:

    (1) Mark your calendars for July 14, 15, & 16, 2017- the 9th Annual Jane Austen Festival is returning to Locust Grove!

    The Jane Austen Festival which takes place in July has been a terrific event to draw attention to our favorite author and our Region. Each year the festival features an Austen author, a Regency style show, a Regency Emporium, Afternoon Tea, as well as workshops and a Grand Ball.

    (2) Jane Austen Festival, Bath, England ~ 8th-17th, September 2017

    International ten day celebration of all things Austen . . . with costumes!

    Costumes can be home-made, bought, hired, found in charity shops – however you want to do it. The only events where it is mandatory to be in costume are the Regency Masked Ball and the Regency Costumed Charity Promenade. For all other events, you can choose to dress up if you wish.

  3. I love, love, loved this, L. Marie. How fun – and I would love to go to a Harry Potter Festival and I”d love to try butter beer.
    One of my friend’s daughter and I always bonded over books, from the time she was in middle school until college. When Harry Potter came along, she was always a chapter or book ahead of me, even, especially when she went to college. We engaged in friendly teasing about the books. When I finished the then newest release, I bought a stuffed out, crafted an owlish note of the news that Penny had finished the book, boxed and wrapped the owl, and sent it to her in her dorm. She loved it! Now a mother of two of her own avid readers, she still has the owl – and her goofy now grandmotherly friend.
    I would cry if I wasn’t sorted a Gryffindor.
    I think Woodstock is planning a Potter festival in the near future.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Penny. I hope you’ll go to Aurora’s festival. I think they’ll advertise it more. They were afraid to advertise it too much, because they weren’t prepared for an extremely large amount of people. As things stood, even 5,000 was a bit much.

      I’m so glad you’re a Harry Potter fan and that you sent such cool owlish things. 😀 I love owls.

      I wanted to cry. But I was glad the hat sorted me into Slytherin if doing so prevented another kid from being sorted into it. 😀

  4. Looks like a lot of fun, L. I would definitely go to one of those, even though I am about to admit something unholy — I’ve never read a Harry Potter book. It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just that I’ve yet to get around to it… I’m thinking that will be something Angus and I can do together when he’s a little older.

  5. I’ve gone to a couple fests this summer, but only when the weather was tolerable. I can’t stand the heat. It’s the biggest reason (among more) why I moved back here (Chicago) from Florida. My husband and I spent many dates along the riverwalk in Naperville (years ago). We have a watercolor hanging on our wall of the place. I heard that the Planetarium is having a festival for the upcoming eclipse. I’m hoping we can make it.

    Glad you enjoyed your Harry Potter day, L. I can imagine that most people were friendly and in a good mood because they enjoy those books.

    • I did, Lori. But the sun was indeed hot. I was thankful to get into an air conditioned building and an air conditioned car.

      That’s what I love about this type of festival. Everyone is in a good mood and glad to be there! 😀

  6. Sounds like fun! It always surprises me when I see people saying they’re a Ravenclaw and sounding happy about it. Surely everybody wants to be either Gryffindor or Slytherin?? I usually want to be Gryffindor unless someone has annoyed me, when I feel an urgent desire to turn all She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named on them… 😉

    • Ha ha ha!!! My niece was sorted into Ravenclaw and is thrilled. 😀 I still see myself as Gryffindor. So I didn’t really accept yesterday’s sorting. 😀

  7. This looks like so much fun! And, yes, I’d love to go to a festival with my daughter because she was one of the original fans in elementary school and is now excited to be teaching the books to a new generation. This year at ComicCon I’m buying her a set of banners for the four houses to put up in her classroom, even though they’re super expensive.

  8. Thanks for this post, L! That festival looks clever and fun! As you know, we have an annual HP festival here in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. It’s pretty amazing, but also insanely crowded. Isn’t it amazing how much love and attention HP still gets after all these years? Love it!

  9. I’m sort of the wrong generation for Harry Potter, although one of my grandsons made me watch several Harry Potter videos so I’d be prepared for the new movie that was coming out that summer. He’s in college now, but he and his sister were just the right age to be dedicated Harry Potter fans. It’s wonderful when books can inspire children to love reading. Now my nine-year-old grandson is an avid reader. I can’t keep up with all the series he reads. My daughter often reads the same books he’s reading so they can discuss them.

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