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Even people who have managed to avoid reading the Harry Potter series and seeing the films know that love for Harry and his magical world extends far beyond the confines of the pages in which he lives. Over the past year or so, love of the series has been on the rise, particularly with the introduction of the Fantastic Beasts films. This renewed (and let’s be honest here — ever-present) popularity of my favorite boy-wizard makes me giddier than an eleven-year-old who just received her Hogwarts letter. My partner and I frequently make the “Potter rounds” when we are near the mall to check out any new merch — Hot Topic, Barnes and Noble, and occasionally Five Below. I love all the new stuff that has come out! The clothes, trinkets, jewelry, home decor… you name it, it’s probably on my wish list.
Even more important than things that line the shelves, I know that isn’t what I truly want. I want more magic, more presence of the fandom, more love and appreciation for the books that started it all. I delight in the concept of magic in whatever form it might take, so I’ve tried my best to engage in new and interesting ways to keep Potter magic alive in my life as much as possible. Whether costly or cost-effective, here are some of my favorites.
1. Read and Discuss the Companion Books
This may seem obvious to some die-hard Potter fans, but it actually took me a few years to getting around to reading these! (Am I losing some street cred here?) Regardless of when you happen upon them, they are FANTASTIC and worth every page. The first two are Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages. Both of these were written for the charity Comic Relief. The last, of course, is the Tales of Beedle the Bard, the book bequeathed to Hermione Granger via Dumbledore’s will. If you’ve been able to make it to Diagon Alley at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, you’ve likely seen some of these stories reenacted on stage.
2. Listen to Some Awesome Wizard Wrock
If you haven’t discovered the delight that is Wizard Wrock, you’re in for a treat. This is one area where the utter talent of HP fans just astounds me. I love being able to play through a Wrock playlist on YouTube while I cook/bake, work on crafts, or take care of other business. Some of my favorite groups include Oliver Boyd and the Rememberalls, Tonks and the Aurors, Harry and the Potters, and The Whomping Willows. Some bands have come and gone over the years, but their music still rings true. (If you’re in the mood to see some live, many bands still tour around the US. Find your favorites and check into possible touring schedules.)
3. Host Potterhead Book or Movie Discussions
Pouring over the books for the fifteenth time or having an endless movie marathon is pure magic in and of itself, but gets even better when you can round up a handful of your favorite Potterhead friends. It doesn’t take much to pull this off, either. Choose a film, or a book, or a companion book — whatever floats your boat. Pick a location and a date and discuss away! You can let the conversation flow naturally, but if you have a tough time, there are plenty of great resources on the web. For example, this is a great starting point for a discussion on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (book). (Note: This isn’t an affiliate link, just a resource to pass along.)
If an in person book club isn’t quite your thing, Pottermore now offers a Wizarding World Book Club that is free to join. Each week, the club examines a theme from one of the Potter books. I haven’t checked into in much myself, but it seems like a fun idea!
4. Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If there ever was such a thing as “going home” for a Potterhead — this is it! If you’re planning or considering a trip, make sure to check out my guide to the HP parks. My absolute favorite time of year to go is at the end of January when Universal Studios hosts the Celebration of Harry Potter. (Their 2018 Celebration will take place January 26-28 and is bound to be great!) It’s so incredible to be at the parks with hoards of diehard fans, gawk at the amazing cosplay, and see (or meet!) some of the actors and people who worked on the films. If you haven’t yet been convinced to go to Celebration, check out my more in-depth write-up here.
5. Join a Local or Online Potter Fan Group
Living in Ohio has afforded me the opportunity to be part of the longest consistently-running Harry Potter fan group in the country. There are others that are technically “older,” but this one hasn’t ceased operation since its inception! Multiple times a year, group members meet for HP-themed events, such as a Weasley Sweater Christmas Party, a Yule Ball (which the group calls the Crystal Ball), or other smaller events such as HP-themed scavenger hunts, Valentine’s Day teas, etc. Check around your state for similar groups — and if you don’t have one, start your own! And if you’re in Ohio, make sure to check out the group on Facebook.
Online groups are great too, especially for being able to meet fans from around the world. There are groups for almost every HP niche you could imagine: crafting, running/fitness, HP crafters with Cricut or Silhouette machines, groups for those 18+, groups for your specific Hogwarts house, etc. If you can search for it, I have no doubt it’s out there!
6. Listen to Potter Podcasts
While I enjoy reading the canon texts and watching the movies, I have recently delved into (and fallen in love with) the world of podcasting. I’m not sure if it’s ever something I would do myself, but I certainly enjoy listening to them. I am just enthralled by the creativity and ingenuity of the fans who run these shows. There are a bunch of Harry Potter-themed Podcasts out there for your listening pleasure. Some that you may be interested in are:
- Witch, Please – A “fortnightly-ish” podcast by two lady-scholars (their words) in Canada. They take a feminist, literary/scholarly stance when critiquing the novels, films, and other HP-related books, events, etc. This is definitely my favorite one of those I have listened to.
- Harry Potter and the Sacred Text – This podcast is produced weekly by two people who have gone/are going through divinity school. They examine each chapter of the books as though discussing it as a sacred text. The episodes are about a half an hour each and I always wish they were longer!
- PotterCast – This weekly podcast provides listeners with recent information impacting the HP fandom, interviews with cast/crew/etc, and other fun discussions.
- Swish and Flick – This is a relatively newer podcast but they’ve produced quite a few episodes in the short time since they began in July of this year (2017)! Similar to the Sacred Text podcast, they examine the books chapter by chapter (with other HP topics thrown in from time to time).
7. Read or Write Fan Fiction
My partner wrote a fantastic Hermione-centric fanfiction novel about a year ago. I, however, fall strongly in the “read HP fanfiction” category. Who knows – perhaps I will fall into the other half of this category someday. Anyway, if there is a genre of fanfiction in existence, you can pretty much guarantee that Harry Potter is mentioned in there somewhere. Crossover, Rationalist Rewrite, Shipping, Self-Insert, Slash, AU, Femslash – this list goes on and on. Fanfiction.net is a great place to get started. Quality varies but you will undoubtedly have a blast reading what others have come up with! There are also some great lists floating around the net that can provide you with “the best” HP fanfiction if you’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of posts on Fanfiction.net!
8. Cosplay Your Favorite Character
Nothing says “I love Harry Potter” more than paying homage to your favorite character(s) through a little dress up. While I love donning my Hogwarts robes and school uniform, there is something extra fun about putting on my Luna Lovegood Spectrespecs or frolicking about as Professor Trelawney. You don’t even need to spend a ton of money! Both of these outfits were made from a few small purchases (i.e. wands, glasses, wigs) and a trip or two to the thrift store. My next cosplay dreams are post-Polyjuice drinking Hermione in feline form and as a Quidditch player – though I can’t decide if I want to be a Ravenclaw team member or part of the Holyhead Harpies!
9. Attend a Potter Convention
If you’ve been a fan of the books and movies for years and long for that feeling of midnight book/movie releases, attending a Harry Potter fan convention should be right up your alley. New and longtime fans alike will find something to delight in at these events. While not strictly a “con,” The Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando is a fantastically done event that draws fans from all over. It happens yearly, usually around the end of January. MISTI-con takes place every other year in the New England states (the most recent one was held in New Hampshire and they are gearing up for 2019 in New York). This is a completely immersive fan experience as they take over an entire hotel for the weekend. There is tons of cosplay to see and so many great things to do! Leaky Con happens yearly and is a smaller, entirely Potter convention. This con moves around the country (and even abroad!), so make sure to watch their website for details. Other events to check out include Mugglenet Live! and the Granger Leadership Academy.
10. Visit International Potter Sites
This is admittedly the most costly of the ideas on this list. But, if you can afford it, a trip to the UK is bound to delight your Potter-heart. This year, we traveled to Europe to visit Potter sites in London and Edinburgh. See this post and this post for a full write-up of everything that we were able to see and do. Some of the highlights included the Tour for Muggles, the Warner Brother’s Studio Tour, a visit to the MinaLima gallery, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and the Potter Trail tour. I could not recommend each of these more strongly. They will be happy memories for a lifetime. I hope to go back someday soon to cross off more of the Potterific places on my travel bucket list!