As many of you know yesterday was Harry Potter Book Night, a worldwide occasion by Bloomsbury with the aim of celebrating “J.K. Rowling’s wonderful series – and pass the magic on to young readers who haven’t yet discovered these unforgettable books.”
Last night I was lucky enough to have the choice of two Harry Potter Book Night events, both at Waterstones stores – one in Warrington’s Golden Square shopping mall and one at Intu Trafford Centre. It was a tough choice to make, I was initially tempted by the Warrington event as it is closer but ultimately decided to try out the event held by Waterstones, Trafford because I assumed it would be a bigger event with it being in such a popular spot. I was regrettably a little disappointed.
The event ran from 5-7pm and was advertised as an evening packed full of games, quizzes, activities, snacks and prizes. We arrived at 5pm after stuffing our faces with pizza and burritos to ensure we had enough strength to tackle a fully grown mountain troll should we have to. I succumbed to the popular vote, as voted for by the wonderful people that follow my Instagram and was dressed as a very last minute, botched job Ginny Weasley in my Quidditch jumper, white pants (I know they were meant to be cream! I had a day to plan people!) and big boots. I attempted to dye my hair as ginger as I could with the help of wash-in wash-out hair colour and was gutted when no one knew that I’d dyed my hair despite of course the fact that no one there had actually ever seen the colour of my hair before hand. To complete my first attempt at cosplay I donned Ginny’s wand which I borrowed from my sister, my Gryffindor flag to represent my Quidditch cheer and a golden snitch (which wouldn’t normally make sense but let’s just pretend I was being Ginny in the scene where she has to fill in as Seeker for Harry as he has detention Snape).
Upon arrival we were greeted by a very lovely staff member who asked our names (I was with my boyfriend by the way, I don’t think I mentioned that before! So “we” is he and me) she then wrote our names on a pair of lovely and almost authentic looking Hogwarts letters in her own beautiful calligraphy. We were handed our first riddle for our game of hunting Horcruxes, the riddle would lead us to our first Horcrux – Tom Riddle’s Diary, it said: “You will find me where my destroyer sheds its skin” now of course I automatically thought the Chamber of Secrets! The Basilisk destroyed the diary by way of Harry using the Basilisk fang, the Basilisk lives in the Chamber of Secrets, therefore that’s where he sheds his skin, and off I went to find Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets but nothing was there. A woman over hearing my frustration jumped in and told me I was wrong (she must have been a Slytherin though she claimed to be a Gryffindor), I know my answer to the riddle is right, but Waterstones had located the first Horcrux in the animal section of the shop, much to my frustration because a Basilisk obviously does not shed his skin in the animal section of Waterstones he sheds it in the Chamber of Secrets therefore the Horcrux should have been located in the section of the shop with the Chamber of Secrets books – am I right?
Anyway, we ploughed on and reached our final clue. The clue for the seventh Horcrux, I forget what the clue was but it eventually lead us the languages section of the shop where we found…. nothing! There was nothing there! The staff had forgotten or misplaced or Evanesco’d the final Horcrux so we had to wait a little while and there ended up being a little huddle of people around the languages section waiting for the final Horcrux (which was simply a slip of paper with the Horcrux’s name on) which completely gave the game away and everyone then knew where the final clue lead you to.
Following that, the children at the event each sat in the sorting chair and had a sorting hat placed on their heads and patiently waited for the little talking toy sorting hat to place them into their houses. Ravenclaw house did astonishingly well and gained the most amount of new little witches and wizards though a few of the spell casting games later on in the evening lead me to believe they’d been wrongly sorted as their favourite spell seemed to be Avada Kedavra followed by Crucio. There was a whole room full of little Death Eaters in the making and I don’t think I’ve ever been more terrified.
There was a game of pass the dragon egg and whoever the egg landed on had to get up and shout a spell or quote someone from the films or books, I was very impressed with all of them for remembering difficult Hermione quotes and even uncommon spells but as an adult it felt like I wasn’t allowed to get involved and so the adults all sort of huddled at the back waiting for our chance to shine. “But it’s for kids” I can almost hear you all cry in frustration while you read this. However, we all know that Harry Potter has a much larger adult following than it does a child following at the moment. We adults have grown with this series, right from the beginning and love it more than Umbridge loves torturing Muggle-borns.
I know this event is primarily for getting a younger audience into reading Harry Potter but if I were the one hosting the event I would have taken into consideration that adults who have read these books more times than Hagrid says something he shouldn’t of, will want to attend and will be excited to take part and I would have therefore aimed to cater for both those who already love it and those who are about to have their minds absolutely blown by the magical world that JK Rowling so very kindly created.
There was a prize for the best dressed but only for the children so any adults who made the effort were likely a little disheartened as the event made sure to encourage you to dress up in fancy dress for the occasion (we walked through a very busy Trafford Centre dressed like, well… dressed a little silly and no one got to win a prize). Snacks were promised but the children just had a few packs of Percy Pigs and Haribo to share between them, which in comparison to many of the other stores across the country wasn’t great.
We took part in a quiz which is always my favourite part of any Harry Potter event, if there was anything that ever brought out my inner Hermione it would be a Harry Potter quiz. This was something they did do well, there was a harder quiz and an easier quiz so the children and adults split into two groups and completed their quizzes but now we have to patiently wait to see if we win and I’m not sure how it’ll work prize wise because I definitely know I answered all of the questions right and I’m sure our Slytherin friend will have gotten them all right too (don’t ask how I know, I can just tell – I’m very almost Professor Trelawney when it comes to this stuff) so I’m not sure if everyone who gets full marks gets a prize or if they just pick randomly. I’ll let you know if I win – fingers crossed!
A staff member dressed as a Gryffindor very kindly read excerpts from The Prisoner of Azkaban which was great, she even let the children choose their favourite scenes for her to read next which was really interesting as they all had different favourites for many different reasons. She involved the children and asked them questions and for their opinions throughout which took me back to my first encounter with the books when I was 9 years old and having Philosopher’s Stone read to my class by my teacher. There was a crazy Madeye Moody who charged around with his wizard’s staff having his picture taken and creating a little more magic at the event, he funnily enough had such an uncanny resemblance to the member of staff who later served us at the till at the end of the night which was strange…
So overall, I did have a good night and I am very glad I went. If nothing else it was just great to be out there with fellow Potter fans and getting into the spirit of the magic. It was great seeing little boys and girls falling in love with the wizarding world as I had when I was their age and knowing that they’ll grow up and hopefully join in with us crazy lot on the wizarding wide web and expand the Potter community even further. I just wish that the event was more organised, more inclusive for all ages and a had a little more excitement and magic as many of the other Waterstones branches across the country had.
The evening did inspire me to start planning my own Harry Potter event which I hope to host in my local library later on this year perhaps so I’m really excited about that and we did come away with a few really cool purchases which you can see a photo of below!
Thanks so much for reading! Please do comment and let me know how you celebrated Harry Potter Book Night, I’d love to hear from you.