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.
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 impawards.com