Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry will apparate in Tacoma this coming December, when would-be witches and wizards as well as Muggles (non-magical folk) are invited to attend the Weekend of Wizardry.
The Harry Potter fan convention, to be held at the Hotel Murano, aims to create an interactive and immersive experience for fans of J.K. Rowling’s books and the Warner Bros. films about (just in case anyone might not have heard) a boy who discovers at the age of 11 that he is not only a wizard but also an extremely famous one.
“I’ve never really seen anything Harry Potter-related in Washington,” said Angela Wehnert, the organizer of the four-day convention and the owner of Crescent Moon Gifts in Tacoma. “We’ve heard about conventions in other states. We’ve gone to Universal Studios, but I thought, ‘There’s really nothing for us here in Washington.’ ”
“This is right in our own backyard,” said Meg Jones of Olympia, who described herself as a fan but not a “Potterhead.” She’s marked herself as “interested” on the convention’s Facebook event page. “I think it would be really fun, and as it gets closer, I might just buy a ticket and go.”
Washington has had Potter-themed events, of course, including “Harry Potter: The Exhibit,” which stopped at the Pacific Science Center in 2010, and two Harry Potter Day events at Crescent Moon, the success of which inspired Wehnert to think much, much bigger.
But there’s been nothing on the scale of the convention, which Wehnert envisions as four days packed with 46 hours of activities for would-be wizards and witches of all ages. In keeping with Hogwarts admission policies, most activities will be aimed at those 11 and older, with a special track in the works for children 10 and younger.
Wehnert said she expects celebrity guests but couldn’t reveal details. Guests for conventions are often confirmed only within a few weeks of events.
Tickets went on sale Jan. 1, and sales are already soaring as high as Harry did when he first mounted a broom.
“We sold 300 tickets on the first day and half of our VIP tickets,” the organizer said in a recent phone interview. She’s offering only 45 VIP tickets, which will include perks both expected (a celebrity meet-and-greet) and unique (a Marauder’s Map that gives access to a secret common room and secret passages within the hotel).
A “Vendors’ Alley” is planned, but this isn’t an event targeted at shoppers and autograph seekers. Activities planned range from make-and-take crafts to a Leaky Cauldron-inspired pub serving butterbeer. Everyone will be sorted by the Sorting Hat, and can attend classes and hang out in their House’s Common Room. Wehnert also hopes to host performances by at least one wizard rock band.
The weekend also will include a Magical Tea Party, a Yule Ball, and a Great Feast inspired by the banquets Harry and friends attended.
“We’re creating a space like the Great Hall, and we’re having a feast,” Wehnert said. “It’s going to be a 500-person feast. We’re going to have very long tables. We’re going to have the head table. We’re going to have actors playing characters who will interact with people.”
The feast will be a three-course meal prepared by hotel chefs, with the menu including salad, rice pilaf and potatoes. No word yet on pumpkin pasties and steak-and-kidney pie.
While Jones imagines borrowing a friend’s child to accompany her to the convention, there’ll be activities just for grownups, too, including a Wizard’s Pub Crawl (on the Knight Bus, of course).
After all, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the first book in the series, was released in the United States in 1998, meaning that those who grew up with it are now as old as their 30s.
Proof positive of Harry’s adult appeal: Cosmopolitan, well known for offering sex tips to its readers, just published an article on its website about the most commonly mispronounced Harry Potter words.
And many who didn’t grow up with Harry Potter feel pretty passionate about him and his world just the same.
Jones, for example, first encountered the books when she read them to her son Llewyn, now 17 and a junior at Olympia High School, but it was the movies that really won her over. She loved the detailed world they created.
“If this had all come out when I was younger,” she said, “I would be an absolute fanatic. I would have been mourning the fact that the books had ended well into my adulthood.”
Weekend of Wizardry
What: Washington State’s first Harry Potter fan convention is set to happen in Tacoma.
When: Dec. 6-9, 2018
Where: Hotel Murano, 1320 Broadway, Tacoma
Tickets: $100-$395 for all four days. One-day passes also are available.
More information: weekendofwizardry.com