Tag: harry potter (Page 3 of 7)

Hermione and Harry Potter Look Alikes

Harry Potter Festival in Chestnut Hill – Pics and Tips

I’ve wanted to go to the Harry Potter festival in Chestnut Hill since a friend of mine shared it on Facebook a few years ago. After hearing about it only a couple times, THIS year I had multiple friends sharing it on my Facebook page or tagging me. I was already dying to go! So, as a late birthday outing for me, we went to the Harry Potter festival in Chestnut Hill.

I wore my favorite Quidditch shirt.

Nancy Basile in Gryffindor Quidditch Shirt

My favorite Gryffindor shoes and socks.

Gryffindor Shoes and Socks

And took my Harry Potter leather bag and Tomboy Togs Gryffindor pin.

Harry Potter Leather Bag

Before I Show You the Goods

Here’s the thing: Those poor Harry Potter festival planners had no idea what was about to rain down on their heads. Maybe they should have known. I mean, it was in Huffington Post and went viral on Facebook. Scores and scores of people descended on the cobblestone street of Chestnut Hill for the Harry Potter festival. There were so many people that, more than once, we were completely gridlocked. Not just in the car, which was fairly horrible, but bodily. As in, I’m standing in the street and I can’t move and I can’t see anything.

Harry Potter Festival Crowd

Too many people!

For instance, it took us about an hour to drive a mile, trying to get into Chestnut Hill. The dude in front of us had his driver-side window down, and his nasty Lucius Malfoy cane out the window, implying (according to my husband) that he could walk faster than drive. He was too right. It was only by the hand of Dumbledore that we got a parking space on the last street before the town was closed off. Someone pulled away right in front of us, as we were crawling along a side street.

Chestnut Hill Train Station

Chestnut Hill Train Station. No, I do not know that man.

I have that thing where crowds make me crazy. Like, panicky crazy. I tried to focus on getting from Horcrux station from the next, but it was kind of a nightmare. If I had been by myself, I probably would have stood in the long, long serpentine line to get a glass of butterbeer. But with my two hangry (yes, hangry) kids and husband in tow, my nerves were as frayed as the hem of Dobby’s towel.

Potter for President

That IS Daniel Radcliffe.

Thank goodness we went to the restroom at the local library (bless them) at the top of the street before we wound our way down. We probably waited about half an hour, but the lines at the very limited number of portable toilets were terribly lengthy.

Chestnut Hill Library

But They Meant Well

Here’s the other thing: The Harry Potter festival in Chestnut Hill was very well done. Someone, or more than one someone, in that town knows Harry Potter. There was something cool everywhere you looked. Here, a Triwizard (hay) Maze. There, a potions lesson (complete with smoky dry ice!). Businesses up and down the street were renamed, and many of them were festooned in Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade-like decorations. 

Gringotts Bank Sign

Gringotts Bank Sign at the florist.

The problem with all these awesome locations was there was no way to know what was inside. Yes, I had a map, but even the map didn’t make it terribly clear what was going on where. Don’t get me wrong, there was a LOT going on. And I learned some lessons for next time. (Those are down below.) A lack of signage was the main problem. You didn’t know something existed until you were on top of it. Even then, you didn’t know if it was worth your time. For instance, the florist was decked out and had a clever sign, but once we got inside, there was nothing to do or see. They had a very nice shop, but I was there to yank a mandrake out of a pot or something, you know? So, I wasn’t willing to stand in line for half an hour outside “Ollivander’s Wand Shop,” just to get inside and find a table set up where I could color a picture of a wand.

Chestnut Hill Florist

Outside the Chestnut Hill Florist.

Back to how the Harry Potter festival in Chestnut Hill meant well! There was a main stage set up that had several cool happenings scheduled during the day. The kick off was Dumbledore’s greeting (which we missed while we were stuck in traffic). There were acrobats, a Defense Against the Dark Arts class, a Sorting ceremony and other Potter-related events.

Horcrux Stations were set up along the cobblestone street. At one, we made our own bookmark in Gryffindor colors. At another, we made an Owl Postcard. At a third, you could make a Harry Potter face mask to hold up in front of your own face. (The visage was not Daniel Radcliffe, but a local look-alike, for a variety of legal reasons, I’m sure.)

Horcrux Station

Horcrux Station

One of my friends said she was hoping for more vendors. She wanted to be able to purchase all things Harry Potter. I didn’t mind that there weren’t a lot of vendors. Goodness knows how much more crowded and chaotic it would have been! Admittedly, I’m not much of a shopper, so it’s very possible plenty of other people had been hoping to buy lots of merch.

Make a Harry Mask

That is not Dan Radcliffe!

Welcome to Hogwarts

The best part of the day was seeing so many, many people who dig Harry Potter. Nearly everyone was dressed up in some way. Some were decked out completely in robes, uniforms, ties, wands and pets. While others merely sported a Hufflepuff scarf or a Hogwarts beanie. My son, for instance, wore only a t-shirt that said “9 3/4,” while I wore a lot of Gryffindor things that I already own. (I didn’t wear a full witch’s costume or a scarf. Itchy.) My daughter wore a Dementor-like cloak. (My party-pooper husband didn’t join in the fun, but he was a sport for driving and taking us out to dinner after.) We saw Voldemorts, more Trelawneys than I would have expected, a mandrake, a few Hagrids and a Dobby.

Slytherin Couple

Slytherin Couple


Mandrake Costume

It’s a mandrake!

Lessons Learned

If I ever return to the Harry Potter festival in Chestnut Hill, I will do some things differently. (Bless them, they might shut the whole thing down after how crowded it was this year.)

#1 Make a weekend of it. The Harry Potter festival started out as a conference at the college, which then tacked on a Quidditch match, which then grew into the festival. Because I liked people-watching more than anything else, I would book a room at the historic Chestnut Hill Hotel for Friday night. Then, I would arrive sometime mid-day on Friday in order to attend the conference and the pub crawl. Saturday, I would get some butterbeer and some nibbles, park myself on the front porch, and just watch everyone all day long. I’m sure I’d have to check out before the end of the festival, but again, I would just hang out with my luggage. After the crowds dispersed, I would take myself off somewhere local for dinner, then the drive home.

Professor Trelawney Costume

Fantastic Professor Trelawney Costume

There was a local SEPTA route that became the Hogwarts Express for the day, which might be an alternative to driving, but I wasn’t willing to fight the online or in-person crowds for a ticket.

#2 Get there earlier. I only live about an hour from Chestnut Hill, but thanks to the horrendous traffic, the drive took much longer. Next time, if I don’t stay at the hotel, I would start out much earlier to try to beat the crowds. There are designated parking areas but, by the time we hit town, they were full. People were parking one to two miles away, if not more, and hoofing it.

Snitch Ice Sculpture

Random Bellatrix Lestrange family with ice sculpture of a snitch.

#3 The other great alternative to milling about in the crowd is to get your butterbeer, get some chow, then park yourself in front of the main stage for the day. You might even bring a camp chair. The main stage had events that happened every couple of hours or so. Hanging out at the main stage would mean you’d see all the big activities, even if you didn’t make it to the Horcurx Stations, or whatever was happening inside the stores. (Again, no clue what was going down in there. Not willing to stand in line to find out.)

Dementor Costume

The Dementors are coming!


Harry Potter Festival Sign

Chestnut Hill Harry Potter Festival Sign

Bottom Line

I’m happy I went to the Harry Potter festival in Chestnut Hill, and my family was too. We saw a lot. We communed with other Potterheads. And we came away with a limited edition of the local paper, which was printed to look like the Daily Prophet. When I would take it out to look at the map and the schedule, so many people asked me where I got it, that my husband made it put it away, for fear someone would snatch it right out of my hands!

Harry Potter Festival Family

I am on the left. See the owl post and the big broom?

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If You Go


Fantastic Beasts Cast

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ Guide – VIDEOS

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a textbook written by Newt Scamander in the Harry Potter series of books. The students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry used the textbook in Care of Magical Creatures.



J.K. Rowling is already writing a sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It will hit theaters in 2018, which suddenly doesn’t seem so far off.



Feeling a little disoriented? Lost? Fandango has put together a three-part encyclopedia to bring fans up to speed before the movie’s release.


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in 1926 as Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident…were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.

Magic in North America

Leading up to the November 18th release of Warner Bros. Pictures’ highly anticipated feature Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling has crafted a collection of new original writing entitled Magic in North America, to introduce audiences to a new place and time in the wizarding world that she has created. Rowling, who first conceived the wizarding world in her enormously popular Harry Potter books, had introduced wizards and witches from other parts of Europe in the series, most notably in the Quidditch World Cup and Triwizard Tournament. However, this marks the first time we’ll learn the fascinating story of the history of magic in North America.


The first installment, History of Magic in North America, was introduced with the global launch of a 100-second specially produced video that serves as a prologue to the new original writing by J.K. Rowling. The writing was posted on Pottermore.com. These four pieces will enlighten readers about a previously unexplored corner of the wizarding world: North American witches and wizards, their history and their magic.

Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the second installment in a collection of new original writing by J.K. Rowling entitled Magic in North America, was published exclusively on Pottermore.com. Ilvermorny (Ill-ver-morn-ee’) provides a vivid and captivating backstory of the great North American school of magic, founded in the 17th century.

The work of fiction begins in Ireland where an orphaned young girl who is a descendant of Hogwarts co-founder Salazar Slytherin, escapes her evil aunt and sets sail on the Mayflower. Landing in Massachusetts with little more than the clothes on her back and a stolen wand, she ventures out on her own, wandering in the wilderness until she encounters several mysterious creatures and discovers she is not the only magical person in the New World. But she will also have to overcome great challenges and face new dangers on her way to establishing what will become the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at the peak of Mount Greylock in Massachusetts.


In addition to publishing the second installment of Magic in North America, Pottermore announced that, for the first time ever, users of the website will be able to be sorted into one of the four houses of Ilvermorny. The Ilvermorny Sorting Ceremony consists of questions and answers written by J.K. Rowling. The answers to the questions determine into which Ilvermorny house users will be sorted. The houses are named after the following creatures, which have been described as follows in the writing:

  • Horned Serpent; a ‘great horned river serpent with a jewel set into its forehead’
  • Pukwudgie; ‘a short, grey-faced, large-eared creature’
  • Thunderbird; a creature that ‘can create storms as it flies’
  • Wampus; ‘a magical, panther-like creature that is fast, strong and almost impossible to kill’

Cast and Crew

Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) stars as Newt Scamander, the wizarding world’s preeminent magizoologist, who stops in New York following his travels to find and document magical creatures. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them also stars Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice) as Tina; Alison Sudol (Dig, Transparent) as Tina’s sister, Queenie; Tony Award winner Dan Fogler (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) as Jacob; Ezra Miller (Trainwreck) as Credence; two-time Oscar nomineeSamantha Morton (In America, Sweet and Lowdown) as Mary Lou; Jenn Murray (Brooklyn) as Chastity; young newcomer Faith Wood-Blagrove as Modesty; and Colin Farrell (True Detective) as Graves.

Marking the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, the script was inspired by her character Newt Scamander’s Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

David Yates is directing Fantastic Beasts. He helmed the last four Harry Potter feature films, so I’m expecting good things!

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'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child'

‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ Review

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the London play by author J.K. Rowling, has fans frothing at the mouth. But, what if you can’t get tickets to the Harry Potter plays? (Yes, there are two.) Read the book!

About the Play(s)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a story about Harry’s son Albus, whom we met at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (He was the little guy who was afraid of being sorted into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor at Hogwarts.) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be spread across two plays, that will be performed in London. The premiere of the play in London’s West End will be on 30th July 2016. Both plays are also being published as a book. Scholastic released the book on July 31, 2016.


Being Harry Potter was always difficult. Now, it isn’t much easier. He is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

Think Geek

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son, Albus, struggles with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

Review by Mike Martin Brown

Phony Beatlemania has topped the charts. Beware of mild spoilers and plot description.

Prophecies! He who must not be named! Hagrid! The Whomping Willow! A love-lorn Severus Snape! A painful scar! Sounds like Harry Potter is back in town! J.K. Rowing said it would never happen, that she had ended the Harry Potter story with her seven classic novels. But now we have a play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! So how is it? It’s fine, wonderful, lame, heart-rending, maddening but overall, I’m just going to say, lacking. But I’m glad I read it. You a Harry Potter fan? Read this book.

There’s a Star Trek Deep Space Nine where, through the magic of computers, the DS9 crew travels back in time and enters the Star Trek Original Series episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles.” It’s a good episode and a lot of fun, with DS9 characters peeking out from around corners at the familiar action from the popular old episode.

Although I’m sure there are people who would strenuously disagree with what I’m about to say, “Tribbles” is not nearly as good as anything in the Harry Potter canon. And we’ve just got a new addition to said series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The book is sort of like that long-ago DS9 episode, new characters peeking around corners at Goblet of Fire. Well, we also get to see a few alternate dimensions where the death eaters are in power or poor Hermione can’t even land Ron. But for the most part, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a clip show of some fun Harry Potter moments from the last few seasons, a Friends Thanksgiving episode.

Jamie Parker as Harry Potter; Photo by Manuel Harlan

Jamie Parker as Harry Potter; Photo by Manuel Harlan

Before I go on, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play.

I can only review Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as a reader. I haven’t seen the play. I’m not going to be able to see the play in the foreseeable future. But I could read it. And so I did. I wish I could see the play. I’m certain it’s great, at lease from a spectacle and bombast perspective.

The first thing that jumped out at me when I was reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is that I wondered if this was something that was taken to J.K. Rowling’s people, not something that JK envisioned and took to the playwrights. Because there are moments from the books, time traveling flashbacks, dream sequences, containing moments that JK wrote. Were those moments enough authorship to get her name in the largest font on the cover? How much of the rest of this did she have anything to do with? It’s more of a retread than an original story, a “What if?” story, like all those Twilight Zones where the Nazis won World War II, except it’s Voldemort succeeding in killing Harry Potter, mostly. If someone was able to sell Rowling on this idea, could others be around the corner?

Did you know that a lot of countries have a bootleg Harry Potter?

Russia has Tonya Grotter, for instance. I know some Russian kids grew up with her and swear she’s better than Harry Potter. Without having read any of the Tonya Grotter novels— which I’m pretty sure will never be translated into English because of international copyright laws— I feel like I can safely say that the Potter books are far superior. But I found myself wondering as I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, was this what it was like to read a Grotter novel, to be a Grotter fan? Peaking though the fence slats at something better, but never quite able to get there?

(L-R) Alex Price (Draco Malfoy), Paul Thornley (Ron Weasley), Norma Dumezweni (Hermione Granger), Jamie Parker (Harry Potter), and Poppy Miller (Ginny Potter); Photo by Manuel Harlan

(L-R) Alex Price (Draco Malfoy), Paul Thornley (Ron Weasley), Norma Dumezweni (Hermione Granger), Jamie Parker (Harry Potter), and Poppy Miller (Ginny Potter); Photo by Manuel Harlan

There are moments in the play that readers craved in the books.

Prayed for. Like, Snape acknowledging that Harry was brave, being proud that Harry’s son is named for him, which were moments that Snape couldn’t have. Snape’s arc in the novels was perfect, showing that you don’t have to be a friendly person to do the right thing. And Severus Snape was never going to apologize for who he was. The Snape in this play is more of a cuddle monster than he should be, gruff, but lovable, easily moved to tears. I knew Severus Snape and you, Sir, are not him. In other words, not all of the characters seem like themselves.

So what’s the play about? Harry’s middle child, Albus, is in Slytherin and best friends with Draco’s boy, Scorpius. Neither of their dads are thrilled about it. But Albus is not thrilled with his dad either, the boy who lived is a difficult legacy to live up to and Albus wants to be himself, practically a squib, not just the son of Harry Potter. So when Harry refuses Cedric Diggory’s father, who wants Harry to go back in time and save Cedric, Albus is moved by Amos Diggory’s plight and decides that he and Scorpius will go back in time and make things right, if only just a little bit. Albus might be a little into Amos’s niece, Delphini, as well. Well, butterfly effect, things don’t go as planned, alternate reality. But we get to check in with most of the poplar characters and places in the Harry Potter franchise. Hello, Delores Umbridge!

Also, Hello, Lord Voldemort.

This might sound crazy, but I didn’t want a Voldemort connection in this new story. Voldemort has seven dense novels to have his moment and bringing him back here did nothing at all to further the story of Tom Riddle, the once and future Lord Voldemort. Not every villain needs to be the ultimate villain and I, for once, would have been all right with someone who wasn’t the greatest dark wizard who ever trod the Earth. And Voldemort is not the bad guy exactly, but his shadow falls across many of the more interesting moments in the story. The play uses our pre-existing knowledge of Voldemort to create tension without actually earning it. Expect a lot of fan fiction about the alternate realities. But really, none of them were nearly as interesting as what actually happened in the novels.

Albus and Scorpius are not only the main characters, but the most interesting characters in the story.

And Ron, Hermione and Harry are in the story. Albus and Scorpius are complex and have arcs, if only to accentuate the idea that parenting is a lot more difficult than saving the world from Voldemort. I liked the boys and would be interested in reading a novel about them. But in the world of reading a play, I wish there was more to their story. Reading a Harry Potter novel is to be completely immersed in the wizarding world, what they eat, what they do with their time, what’s fun, what’s not, what are their interests, everything. But in the play, we get snapshots of what makes them interesting. I’m certainly not saying that plays can’t be deep, but this particular one doesn’t really flesh the boys out as much as J.K.’s Harry Potter novels did for the lives of our original three heroes.

One aspect of this play that can never be overestimated is that it’s Harry Potter.

Harry Potter! The idea of new Potter adventures is very exciting and carries with it a cultural cache, it gives the lightest moments in the play a heft because of that which has come before. This cache can be quickly overused and Potter will become something different than what he now represents. So that is a warning to J.K. Rowling in her use of the man himself. But this is the first time and it works. The Harry Potter scratch was itched. Sure, there were none of the great moments of the novels, but there were good moments. It’s worth reading, which I feel like I should stress amidst all this criticism.

I started this review talking about a half-remembered TV show, Deep Space 9.

And that’s what this new Harry Potter feels like, forgettable, not bad, not great, pretty good maybe, but with none of the moments that made the original series so great. Instead of decisions and consequences, we get an apocalyptic future that may happen, all of the books undone by a bad guy that, frankly, isn’t all that powerful or smart, which means that the book isn’t clever. If this was an episode of a pretty good TV show, yeah, it would be great. But as a reader, I was left thinking that this wasn’t a new Harry Potter story to stand tall beside the books. I’m not even sure how much of it Rowling actually wrote. My guess is, not much, maybe none of it.

Cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Photo by Manuel Harlan

Cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Photo by Manuel Harlan

I bet it would be a lot of fun to see the play though. It’s probably amazing, but more like a superhero movie than the Harry Potter series. Feel good, cheer-worthy moments are not bad, but it’s not what the Potter series was built around. If you’re a Potter fan already, read it. And hell, if you’re not, see the play if you can. I bet it will be great. But I doubt in twenty years that children will be reading this. In fifty, it probably won’t be remembered. And I know this is sort of grandiose, but in 10,000 years, I think people will still be reading the original seven books.

Joe Strummer said in London Calling that “Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust.”

A lot of that song’s lyrics are murky in their specifics for me, but I’ve always assumed he meant the Beatle lookalikes that toured for a while in the ‘70s, playing Beatles songs for people who would never hear the actual Fab Four in concert. Did those concerts scratch the itch? I know people slept out for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, re-creating part of the fun of the original seven books. I know that the book is breaking sales records everywhere. But is this just Beatlemania? Sadly, I must say, yes. Sure, it’s a reasonable simulacrum, but the one thing no one has ever been able to match is the magic of the McCartney/Lennon harmonies or whatever the hell it was that made the Harry Potter books so amazing.

So, read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Scratch the itch. But don’t expect to be thinking about it in ten years.

P.S. J.K. Rowling says, “This is it! The last Harry Potter story!” She said that last time too. I, for one, would welcome any time Rowling decides to return to her classic creation.

P.P.S. I think the Butterfly effect is poetic, right? If we killed all the butterflies in Asia would we have less hurricanes? I propose an experiment!

Muggle Mob

More than 300 Harry Potter fans formed a massive flash mob, or “Muggle Mob” on July 21, 2016. They took over Broadway in front of the Scholastic headquarters building in New York City, just 10 days before the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II. The fans, who were Scholastic employees and their children, flooded onto the street, reading from a favorite Harry Potter book. They stopped traffic in the busy SoHo area.

At the culmination of the estimated two-and-a-half minute event, the fans lowered their books and raised up paddles showing the cover of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II. As the crowd dispersed, “Muggle Mob” participants handed out their Harry Potter books from the Harry Potter series to very lucky passersby.

In a press release, Ellie Berger, President, Scholastic Trade, said, “Scholastic introduced Harry Potter to readers of all ages nearly 20 years ago. What better way to celebrate the release of the eighth story and start the countdown to the biggest publishing event of the summer than to gather a flash mob of dedicated Harry Potter fans eager to share their love of books and reading.” She continued, “We could feel the excitement and anticipation as hundreds of people were reading and one of the busiest streets in Manhattan came to a standstill. It was an incredible moment and we can’t wait until July 31st!”

Muggle Mob Photos

Thanks to Scholastic Media for sharing their photos from the Muggle Mob.


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