Though Universal Studios has created The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, lovers of the book series have continued to celebrate it closer to home. I’ve found five great Harry Potter themed festivals and events across the US that will allow Potterheads to enjoy the magic of J.K. Rowling’s world by drinking all of the butterbeer they could desire.
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Roanoke, Virginia will be hosting its first Harry Potter festival in May of this year. Though the planning committee is still finalizing its options, the event will have quidditch demonstrations, a beer garden with magic themed drinks, a decorated Great Hall, and more. In order to build pre-festival excitement, the City Market Building in Roanoke began playing Harry Potter movies in March and will continue to screen them all through April.
The second annual Kent Potterfest will be held in July in Kent, Ohio. The town will transform its downtown into various Harry Potter locations. Its Acorn Alley will become Diagon Alley, and 40 local businesses will temporarily adopt the identities and decors of stores from the books. Along with themed shopping, this Potterfest will include costume contests, magic shows, photo booths, and more. There is also a Kent Potterfest 5K Fun Run for people who want to work off all of the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans that they’ve eaten.
People living near Chicago can attend the Aurora Harry Potter Festival to be held in downtown Aurora, Illinois in July. The event will feature potions and care of magical creatures classes, a Horcrux scavenger hunt, crafting stations, more quidditch, and lots and lots of magical food.
For the academic Potter fans, there is always the Harry Potter Conference, held at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Harry Potter Conference is a nonprofit academic meeting that is intended for scholarly presentations based on J.K. Rowling’s literature and the world of Harry Potter. The conference itself is open to the public and is followed by a festival that spans 10 blocks. During last year’s event, there were live owls and falcons, Hogsmeade themed shops, circus performers, thestral rides, and much, much more.
This three day festival in Wisconsin was such a success that the organizers are moving it from Edgerton to Jefferson, Wisconsin. Last year 50,000 “witches and wizards” from 38 states traveled to the festival and enjoyed a search for the Sorcerer’s Stone, a creature walk, a mandrake experience, a Harry Potter props display, a pub crawl and more. The details of this year’s event are still being put together, but keep an eye out for more details from the planning committee.
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These certainly aren’t the only Harry Potter celebrations that happen across the US – Chestertown, Maryland has a fabulous festival in the fall that hasn’t quite been scheduled yet – so if you know of any others, please share! I’m sure that people are interested in knowing if there is another Harry Potter Festival near them.