Maybe you shout “CRUCIO!” in your sleep to your alarm clock, perhaps you wish “Accio, peanut butter sandwich!” actually worked, or maybe you’re just a regular old muggle with an appreciation for J.K. Rowling’s series about ‘the boy who lived.’ Even though the last movie came out several years ago, Potter fandom has not died down one bit — nor do I believe it ever will with new generations being constantly introduced to the books that started it all. Just like any fan, there are times when you want to be surrounded by people who get you, people who won’t wonder why you mutter unforgivable curses under your breath at the guy who just cut you off, or wonder what you mean when you say “I could sure use a butterbeer right now.” Don’t worry little wizards and witches, there are lots of people out there who understand and gather together several times a year to revel in all the wizarding world has to offer. From a fan run getaway in Texas to an all out academic battle on the criminal past of Sirius Black , below are a few places and events at which you can get your Potter nerdery on.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Clearly the most obvious place to get a Harry Potter high is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. Even if I weren’t a Harry Potter fan, Universal’s re-creation of Hogsmeade and Hogwart’s Castle are cool enough to impress even the most cynical theme park attendee. I could spend all day at the WWHP, but I’d need to leave everyone else behind, I want to wander and see every little corner of every little shop and drink my butterbeer with wild and private abandon.
A Celebration of Harry Potter - Naturally, Universal Orlando would have an event at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in their Islands of Adventure park. While it’s a little too late for most of us to attend this one (as it begins January 24th), it’s not the first time Universal Orlando has offered a gathering like this. It can be assumed that these types of events will continue on as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter grows and continues to see enormous success. One perk of this particular event is that it is official rather than run by fans — meaning more involvement with the actual cast and crew of the original movies. Guests of a ‘Celebration of Harry Potter’ will also most likely get a sneak peak into Diagon Alley, a much anticipated addition opening this summer.
Diagon Alley - Universal just released photos (like the above!) and information about the newest addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the addition of King’s Cross Station and Diagon Alley in London. If you’re familiar with Universal Studios theme park, London is being built just to the right of San Francisco, before you hit MIB and the Simpsons. Not only will you be able to take the Hogwart’s express back and forth between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, you’ll be welcomed by a whole new group of experiences, treats and features unique to Harry Potter. Some of the announced attractions include Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, a larger and more interactive Ollivander’s wand shop as well as the Leaky Cauldron and Knockturn Alley. Universal Orlando’s newest Harry Potter addition opens summer of 2014.
Camp 9 3/4 – Camp 9 3/4 is an adult camp (ages 16-96) that promises to be the least expensive Harry Potter experience available. Some camp offerings include Quidditch matches, house cup championships and nightly wizard rock concerts and Harry Potter book/movie debates. The best part? “We exclusively rent out the entire camp facility, which means no muggles!” October 10-14, 2014 in Marble Falls, Texas Registration fee $250-$400 (the site isn’t terribly clear about what this includes.) Find out more here.
LeakyCon – A fan based conference that started around Harry Potter and has grown to include almost any fan, LeakyCon claims to be a cross between ComicCon and SXSW. Any age welcome although the suggested age is 11+. You can expect celebrity appearances, Wizard Rock concerts, book signings and a marketplace. Perhaps a good conference for the young adult who is into everything at the moment (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Dr. Who, etc.) July 30-August 3, 2014 Orlando, Florida. Orange County Convention Center. Registration $100-$350 (Does not include travel or lodging) Find out more about LeakyCon here.
MISTI-con -”You bring the wands, we’ll bring the magic” is the tagline to this small by-fans-for-fans Harry Potter conference taking place Memorial Day weekend in 2015. The theme will be ‘Wizarding World’s Fair’ and with the event so far away there isn’t much more information, but there is an option to sign up for a mailing list for further and new information. May 21-25 2015 – Laconia, New Hampshire at the Margate Resort
Alohamora – With no specific dates or announcements for 2014 or beyond, Alohamora was a conference held in London in partnership with LeakyCon, allowing those in Europe to celebrate the boy who lived in the place he was born. From the looks of Facebook it was a very successful event, so hopefully they’ll follow it up with another successful gathering of wizards and witches. Watch their Facebook page for updates about the Alohamora conference.
Harry Potter Festival and Academic Conference – Held at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia , Harry Potter Conference is an even deeper and more academic gathering of Potter geeks. Free and open to the public, some of last year’s presentations included ‘Expelliarmus! Revenge and Incarceration in the Harry Potter Series’ as well as ‘Shhhh! Hermione and the Marginalization of the Hogwart’s Library.’ I personally would love to hear college professors discuss the merits of wizarding and magic. While no specific details have been released for 2014, it takes place as the same time as Chestnut Hill’s Harry Potter Festival (which !!!)
International Quidditch Cup – Did you know there are more than 300 quidditch teams all over the world? And they compete against each other? THIS IS A REAL THING. I mean, they don’t fly but there are broomsticks, snitches, keepers, beaters and quaffles. Even better? It’s a completely co-ed sport. You can find an event to attend, a team to join or find out how to begin a team of your own on their website.
For those of you wondering if a themed conference is right for you, MuggleNet has put together an article that runs down what you can expect at almost and Harry Potter conference, from costumes, schedules to planning. (One tip: Bring money! You’re going to want to buy everything from the conference marketplaces.) You can read that article here.
Do you know of any Harry Potter events I may have missed?
Voldemort and Qudditch photo credits: Harry Potter Festival
Diagon Alley Photos Courtesy Universal Orlando