We had such a hoot at Chestnut Hill’s Harry Potter Festival last year that we have been counting down the days until it returned. It was held this past weekend and on Saturday Mr Pict and I took our four boys plus our 10 year old’s friend along to join in the fun and experience the magic.
The first thing that was immediately apparent was how much the Festival has taken off: we thought the place was absolutely packed last year but it was bursting at the seams this year. It was great to see that the Festival was being so enthusiastically supported and all of the wizards, witches and muggles milling around certainly added to the buzz of the place; however, it was a little too crowded for me. I don’t do well in crowds anyway but I also don’t do well herding five kids through swarms of people or dealing with the moans of five kids in long queues. This year they had closed off some cross streets in order to have more space for stalls, activities and events. I think they would benefit from extending this idea and pedestrianising a section of the street.
We enjoyed seeing the town all decorated so that Chestnut Hill was transformed into Hogsmeade. There were dementors floating around – including three on a construction site – and owls hiding in trees and giant spiders crawling across the fronts of buildings. Shops had been transformed into locations from the books, most with some sort of connection such as the sweet shop that had been turned into Honeydukes. It was even fun just to wander around, look at the people – and pets! – dressed up in costumes and look at window displays. We were particularly wowed by a trio of cakes in a bakery window: a sorting hat, a wedding cake decorated with golden snitches and a monster book of monsters.
As with last year, the boys enjoyed taking part in lots of the free events. The grounds of the Elementary School had again been given over to lots of craft activities. The boys had great fun making wands using all sorts of materials and then they visited the potions stall to buy some bottles of butterbeer and popcorn. We also visited the Franklin Institute’s stall where they were each given crackers from a cauldron of liquid nitrogen so that they could breathe steaming dragon breath. We went along to an open air theatre performance of a Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson. It looked to be fun – and the actor being Harry Potter even had a passing resemblance to Daniel Radcliffe – but there were just too many people in too small a space. Furthermore, my kids are not very pushy-shovey so could not get anywhere near the front when it came to the interactive elements. The kids were getting frustrated and hungry so we left part way through and scuttled off to warm up with butterbeer and muffins.
We were too late to go and spectate at the quidditch matches again so we will need to make that a priority next year – because we will definitely return for more magical fun next year.
The kids look adorable! It’s so nice hearing about these HP events, it keeps the fandom alive… It’s a shame that we have no such things where I live
Thank you for the comment and for visiting my blog. I’m glad you did. Maybe you should start a festival where you love. Even Comic Con had to start somewhere, right?
I’m only 16, I don’t think I could handle it myself plus, there are practically no true readers I know. It’s dreadful.
You could be a teen entrepreneur! I’m sorry to read that you know so few avid readers. I’m a busy mother of four so I don’t have the same time in which to read as I used to but I still make time to read every single day. I can’t imagine not loving books.
Me neither! The closest thing we have to a reading-related festival is a monthly bookyard to sell used books, but I think it’s become too commercial. Few take the time to take in all the books and their magic.
I could go bankrupt at a second hand book market. I go to the library once a week and have never yet left without buying a used book.
I remember you writing about this festival before Laura, how can that be a year ago!!! Frightening….. Shame about the crowds but it sounds so amazing that I’m not surprised everyone wants to go. My son just read your post, he’s so jealous, Harry Potter books are still amongst his favourites, although the Maze Runner series is riding high too right now.
I know, right? I measure our time here in Halloweens since we arrived in America just prior to Halloween so it struck me as incredible that we are preparing for our third Halloween.
My kids have been looking forward to the Harry Potter Festival all year. We’ve had the flyer stuck to the fridge for months. We still thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I just noted that there is a downside to things becoming so popular. I’m sure the organizers will adapt it accordingly. Based on the limited number of portaloos available, I don’t think they had anticipated quite the swell in numbers attending that they got.
That’s great that your son loves reading. Mine go from famine to feast with reading. My 10 year old is probably my most consistently avid reader. He’s read The Hunger Games trilogy several times and has read both cycles of Percy Jackson and Olympus novels. He’s currently working his way through the Potter books actually, having only ever had them read to him before. My 8 year old is working his way through all the Roald Dahl books. My kids like the “I survived…” series of historical fiction too.
Busy and portaloo, two words to send shivers down your spine!!! I’ve actually just read the Hunger Games myself and enjoyed it!!
Yup. Gross. Thankfully boys don’t have to interact with toilets much and I have a strong bladder. It’s strong from years of avoiding public loos. Ha ha!
The kids really had a great time. Is the last picture of your 10yr old? His pose made my day!
Thanks. The last photo is my 8 year old. That was taken while they were watching the Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson.
Glad to see your kids having such a great time 🙂 It’s also brilliant that your kids enjoy reading so much, I’ve always been an avid reader (once I got past the age of 11 that is), but I’ve never been able to get our kids into reading, they prefer their pcs and games consoles 😦
Mine do a fair bit of gaming too it must be said. They go in peaks and troughs with reading to be honest and I’ve learned from experience not to be pushy with it or it just puts them off longer and prolongs any period of not reading as they get entrenched. I give them time and space and sure enough they pick up a book and get into reading again. My 10 year old likes to devour books in series but then when he gets to the end of a series it’s like he has a period of mourning before he can pick up another book again. They live in a house full of books and have two bookworm parents so I somewhat rely on osmosis to make them book lovers.
I was a bookaholic (constantly visiting charity shops to peruse their bookshelves) up until fairly recently, but the advent of the internet curtailed that a fair bit. And now, unfortunately, I’ve been converted to ebooks, something I’d never thought would happen! So there aren’t a huge number of books floating around the house for the kids to just pick up. In Cornwall I had over 4,000 books, and when I lived in Surrey, I had over 10,000 books!!
Before we emigrated, literally every room in the house had books in it, including the bathroom and the hall. We shipped hundreds of books but had to donate hundreds more. Running out of shelf space converted me to e-books for things I’m only likely to read twice plus I like the convenience of traveling with the kindle rather than books. I still buy books that I think we might all read and I buy a lot of second hand books from the library. We have a fabulous library here so we use it a lot too which also saves shelf space.
Sounds like a lot of fun! And the boys seemed to enjoy it thoroughly!
It was a lot of fun. We will definitely be going back next year. Thanks.
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