A few months ago, I got an email newsletter from Bloomsbury at my library. I get a lot these, but this one caught my eye because it was promoting an event: Harry Potter Night.
Which they had proclaimed to be February 5th. Which happens to be during Read Across Lawrence. But, because the youth services manager I work with is a huge Harry Potter fan, I sent it to her and said, “we should have a Harry Potter program.”
And she agreed.
Despite the majority of the youth services staff being occupied with RAL events and the auditorium being booked for a community blood drive, it was on.
We booked the visitor’s center, which happens to be in an old Union Pacific train station. Perfect for dressing up as Platform 9 and 3/4. My awesome friend Becca suggested we book the Prairie Park Nature Center to bring real, live owls. And it all grew from there. In the end, we had about 250-300 people attend the two hour event. It was an all ages event, and we had all ages attend, from young children and families, to teens, to adult men in their 30s who were excited to mix potions right alongside 5-year-olds. It was awesome.
Here’s the slate of programs we offered:
Live Owls with Prairie Park Nature Center
For a nominal fee, the staff of Prairie Park Nature Center brought two live owls, as well as sample skulls, feathers, and other owl-related information. Patrons got to learn all about barn owls and barred owls!
Ollivander’s Wand Shop
If we were doing a teen event, I’d let them make these themselves. It was easy, inexpensive, but time-consuming (luckily I had Spike to help). I twirled them while applying hot glue to give the texture, and then painted them with brown and a touch of gold. Lots of kids had their own wands, but those who didn’t were delighted to get one!
Potion Making Class
I had wanted to do something STEAM related for potions class, and found all sorts of magical experiments to conduct. Unfortunately, with such a large crowd, we had to think smaller. So, instead, we made these tiny potion bottles. They’re a mix of food coloring, glitter, and corn syrup. While it was a bit messy, it was nothing a few baby wipes couldn’t fix. Kids had lots of fun mixing up felix felicis or polyjuice potion, and they also got to take them home.
Trivia and Sorting
The train depot has a separate room where we held sorting and trivia. We decorated the room with “floating candles” which were flameless tea lights with paper taped round them, hung by fishing line.
For trivia we had about 75 questions, and only a few of them stumped the audience. Luckily, one of our teen volunteers who absolutely loves Harry Potter was there to step in. Trivia programs are not always such a hit, but everyone loved this! The Bloomsbury kit had logos for printing house stickers, and that’s what everyone got when being sorted. We did buy a real sorting hat for the occasion.
Platform 9 3/4 Photo Op
Mister BS painted a Hogwart’s Express, and we had a trunk on a dolly set up for photo-taking. The backdrop wasn’t quite large enough for a realistic perspective, but we couldn’t transport anything larger. It ended up looking pretty cute.
We also had snacks! I didn’t get a chance to take any photos (Mister BS snapped these while I was working the potion station) but they went quickly! I was impressed by what Karen, the youth services manager came up for “pumpkin” juice: half Tang orange mix, half apple cider, with an optional sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice on top. The color was perfect, and the fruity drink passed as pumpkin flavored.
This is definitely going to become an annual event for us, and we’re already brainstorming for our Second Annual Harry Potter Night!
Ideas for next year include:
- green screen quidditch photos
We have the sound and vision studio for opportunities programs like this, but since our program this year was off-site, we didn’t have the chance to do it
- KU quidditch team
We’ve usually have the (#1 nationally ranked!) KU quidditch team at our summer reading kick off, and we’d love to them at our Harry Potter event!
- Harry and the Potters performance
One half of the wizard-rock duo lives in Lawrence, if it would work out for their schedule to perform, that would be a complete coup!
We talked about doing sort sort of plant activity, but didn’t have the space or staff to man it.
The Bloomsbury kit had some ideas for games, and some of them sounded fun.
Decorations ideas for next year:
- I saw an amazing fireplace full of Howart’s letters on Instagram (but I couldn’t find the photo now to credit) and I’d love to do that to promote the event before hand.
- House banners! I want to sew some with the crests of each house to hang.
I know lots of libraries had Harry Potter events. Share your ideas in the comments or link up to a post about what your library did!