By Betsy Natter
The activities begin on Friday at Chestnut Hill College, which is very grand and castle-y in its own right, setting the perfect stage for the Harry Potter Conference. The full-day gathering features scholarly presentations from students and faculty from universities around the country on a variety of topics associated with the writings of J.K. Rowling. Lecturers provide character and film analysis as well as consider literary themes throughout the books. Registration is required for the conference and can be prepaid online at http://www.harrypotterconference.com.
Then head into “Hogsmeade” on Saturday for a full day of fun as Germantown Ave in Chestnut Hill transforms into a magical shopping world. Enjoy tea at Madame Puddifoot’s Tea Shoppe, take photos at Hedwig’s Hollow and 4 Privet Drive, take a Defense Against the Dark Arts class and find out which house you’re in at the Sorting Hat demonstration. Throughout the town there will be several Horcrux stations where you can do lots of hands-on activities and shops and restaurants will have plenty of butter beer and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans on hand.
Take a free ride on the Knight Bus or try your hand at the Tri-Wizard Straw Maze located down the street at the Woodmere Art Museum. The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill is offering thestral rides to their Great Hall for a Pancake feast featuring pancakes, sausages and pumpkin juice. Cost for the feast is $10 per adult and $5 per child with a $35 family limit.
For the sports enthusiast the festival won’t be complete without attending at least one quidditch match. Collegiate teams from all over the Mid-Atlantic are meeting on the pitch at Chestnut Hill College for the seventh annual Brotherly Love Quidditch Tournament running from 10 am until 4 pm. Attendance is free but seating is limited; blankets are suggested for ground seating.
Gather a group of friends and enjoy a special twist on the festival fun with a smartphone app created by the team-building folks at CityHUNT. Travel through Hogsmeade on a scavenger hunt to solve clues and earn points to win awesome prizes like gift certificates to shops in Chestnut Hill. There are two hunts scheduled during the day, each lasting two hours. Teams of up to 5 people can participate and register online at https://chestnut-hill.ticketleap.com/harry-potter-cityhunt/details.
Since this event is expected to attract thousands of muggles, be aware of these helpful suggestions for getting around the town. Limited parking is available in one of the five public parking lots, but the main street is closed, so plan on doing lots of walking. A free Hogwarts Express shuttle bus will run continually throughout the day between the main street, Chestnut Hill College and Woodmere Art Museum. And to make the experience even more authentic, visitors can ride into “Hogsmeade” on the train by taking either the SEPTA Chestnut Hill East or Chestnut Hill West regional rail lines from Philadelphia. One train will feature Harry and his friends, theater students from Chestnut Hill College, riding along. Check the website to find out which one!
The Harry Potter Festival is sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Business Association, a not-for-profit organization supporting the Chestnut Hill Business Community. The event celebrates the popularity of the seven book series which has over sold over 450 million copies worldwide.