Harry Potter Festival 2016: The aMAZEing race

It’s Saturday, 8 o’clock in a rainy morning. We wake up a grab our cups of coffee, Ana and Tudor drink their milk with cacao. In two hours, the streets will be filled with witches and wizards of their age. We will try to blend in, although it will take another year to really understand them, to prepare or, at least to find out where to get capes and wands. Or maybe you don’t simply get all these, you must earn them somehow at the moment when your are prepared for them. Like real sorcery. I don’t know yet, this is what we have to discover at the first Harry Potter Festival we attend.

We arrive in the center of Odense. It started to rain even harder, which in my country would be enough to ruin an event. Here, rain is ignored in favor of fun, so we do it, too. We ex-change money for Galleons at the Gringotts Bank and try not to be too frighten by the two “bankers”.
There are so many workshops and events to chose from, that it becomes really difficult to decide if to attend one or just stroll on streets among Harry Potters, dragons, and trolls offering free hugs. We visit the “owls’ s tent, in which a guy present about 10 different kinds of owls and then wait inline for a lollipop with spider legs and eyes given by a witch on the street.

The children decide they need their magic wands just in case, so we enter an workroom and make two. One with a lot of pink for a little girl who insists on keeping her princess status no matter the story/ festival, and one with blue for a boy who uses it as a sword mainly. We walk around and peek at the activities from the various and numerous festival’s locations: Chamber of Secrets, dragon tamers training, spell against forces of darkness workshops, unicorns, sword fighting in the arena, mythological creepy crawly animals. An amazing race in a magical maze.

We venture in the Diagon Alley with all the dangers that this implies: Dementors and …a pub serving delicious ginger ale, and a kind of Butterbeer and, you know, real beer, which proves to be the ultimate temptation for Muggle parents. But they are strong enough not fall for it and continue the journey. (Which, of course, it was a pity, as I realized later. We had some Galleons left and we could not exchange them back. “But you can use them next year!” the two Gringotts shout at me. Ok, ok, guys, you are right, next year I could use all the money, a break (and a beer), and also some Danish language skills to better understand what’s going on around me. I got it.
At Adventure Haven, one could make his/ her own broom and then participate into a Quidditch match, following the example of real teams (Norway vs UK), you know – real men and women riding sticks and scoring in everybody’s imagination.
This is an occasion to realize what impressed me most at this festival: the easy and genuine way of getting into and living the story. Odense Library has this force of mobilizing everybody into the event from volunteers, actors, to towns’s important locations: Zoo, Concert House, Railway museum, Brandts and restaurants, cafes, shops. Of course, everybody has to win in this partnership, but in my opinion, the children are the ones who win the most important thing: the most valuable, priceless love for stories.
The festival began 14 years ago at the initiative of a local librarian. At first, it was all about Hogwarts, the children could attend classes in Hogwarts (Odense town hall). But year after year, it grew bigger and bigger. In 2010, J. K. Rowling visited the festival which slowly moved in the streets. Today, you don’t enter a delimited magical space, but rather transform all the town in a Harry Potter world.

Just before the final battle and after five hours of festival, my two personal goblins capitulated so we went home. Fortunately, we had our “man” in place – Cosmin who, as I member of “Odense Fotografiske Amatørklub” enjoyed all the activities and took a lot of photos (so we had the chance to see what we have missed). Yap, that weird situation in which one parent has even more fun than the children at a children’s event! 🙂

Moreover, I read in the “Daily Prophet”, that, next year, a mum will be more organized (I always hope this, as a matter of fact) and make a short list with everything we want to see. And maybe she will be sooo quick that she will even get tickets for the Hogwarts Express (you know, this year they were sold out in a minute or so).

The festival is over, the Harry Potter books are read, the films are seen, but the magic lives on. Odense is a very real town which seems to be governed by a very real Library, an undercover Howgarts which is a modern library the rest of the year.

More photos to enjoy: Harry Potter Festival 2016

Previous article on an Odense event: Captain Hook: Peter, I’m your father!

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Comments 2

  1. Simona says:

    Great story Joe ! I bet my kids and my husband wouldn t miss this festival in a million, too. Thank you for sharing this. Good luck further accommodating in Onse with your family!

  2. Simona says:

    Odense! Sorry for my misteak.

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