Monday, June 26th was the 20th anniversary of the publish date of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in the UK.
Eeek! If you're like me, just knowing that it's the 20th Anniversary makes me realize how time flies (a much gentler way to phrase my initial exclamation of "Holy cow, I'm old!"). I can't believe two decades have passed since the wizard phenomena entered our culture. It's hard to think of a time without Hogwarts, Quidditch, Elder Wands and House Elves!
The story behind Harry Potter is almost as magical as the wizard tale itself. It's a lesson for our kids to keep on truckin', and to follow their dreams despite setbacks or naysayers. At one point, JK Rowling received 12 rejection letters from publishers in a row. And now the series is attributed to transforming YA publishing industry. Some say it paved the way for Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent, A Fault in our Stars and other popular YA novels.
While my kids are a bit too young to dive into the thick novels, the wizarding world appeals to everyone - the young, and the young at heart. That's why I'm so excited that this fall the Wizarding World is coming our area!
Taking place September 16 - 17, this event is inspired by JK Rowling's Wizard World, but set here in the United States as a "Correspondence School" called Wizard Academy. Here in America, young wizards do not leave home to begin their magical education at the age of 11. Instead, they take their classes independently beginning in first grade and attend Wizard Academy gatherings (Summer camps, Tournaments, Yule Balls, etc) to gather with others in the wizarding world, take their exams, and celebrate accomplishments.
This event goes beyond the traditional festival format. Although this is a themed weekend including vendors, activities, and entertainment for all ages, the experience is designed to bring the guests into their imagination, in a similar manner as at a Renaissance Faire. Guests are welcome to become as involved in the story as they wish.
All attendees are encouraged to dress up in costume and create a character to play along with performers in costume throughout the event, attend as a spectator, or register to participate in a deeper level of the narrative as a Student, or Tournament competitor. There will be a costume contest, a costume parade, and opportunities to participate in interactive Story Quests.
Admission is free if you want to view vendors and explore the grounds as a MUGGLE, learn Quiddich, or complete the Fantastic Beasts Challenge. Parking is limited, so it would be best to register in advance to guarantee a parking spot. Parking passes are $10/car.
Those wishing to be more involved can register as a WIZARD ($30 for one day or $50 for the weekend) to participate in immersive Tournament activities and earn House points. Limited tournament spaces are available in Houses from Hogwarts, Ilvermorney, and Wizard Academy. Wizards will have many opportunities to earn points towards their house and receive acknowledgment for their accomplishments at a ceremony on Sunday. A Parking pass is included in this level of registration.
Students in grades 1-12 can register as a STUDENT (cost $80/student) for the full Wizard Academy Experience including classes such as Potions, Herbology, Transfiguration, Care of Magical Creatures, Charms & Spells, and more. They will also complete the Tournament Activities and Fantastic Beast Challenge, take OWLS and NEWTS to earn house points and so much more. Students will receive acknowledgement for their accomplishments at a ceremony on Sunday.