Harry Potter Festival 2008

Here in Odense, Denmark, on September 9-12, we had a Harry Potter festival, and it was really amazing. The local library had organised it together with the town of Odense, and I was surprised to see what they did for the kids. My daughter Tea was among the 160 lucky children to get a place at Hogwarts. She was in the house of Ravenclaw, of course, it being the house of intelligence. A chip off the old block, ha-ha! Hogwarts lessons were from 5.52 p.m. to 9.32 p.m. in the evenings so that the kids – all aged 8 to 12 years – were able to attend regular school during the daytime.

The physical setting of Hogwarts was Odense’s big old town hall and our old lord mayor himself was acting the part of Dumbledore, complete with long hair, long beard and a splendid set of wizard robes. When I took my daughter to Hogwarts on the 9th, it was amazing to see all of the 160 children dressed in school uniforms and robes with the respective logos of their houses. Tea was a first year student as she had never attended before, but as soon as we arrived outside the town hall older students from her house came to greet her and take care of her.

Parents weren’t allowed inside of course, but the kids had such a great time. Professional actors, opera singers and football players were teaching them, all dressed as the professors from the Harry Potter books, and volunteer teenagers acted the parts of older students such as Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, Luna Lovegood and the rest. Tea immediately hit it off with Luna of course.

The kids started off with a feast in the Great Hall followed by lessons in Potions, Charms, Transfiguration, Defence Against Dark Arts and Care of Magical Creatures, the lessons being taught by Snape, Flitwick, McGonagall, Mad Eye Moody and Hagrid. The classrooms were situated in a nearby former monastery, Snape’s class in the dungeons by the cloister garden and Hagrid’s in an old ruin behind the town hall. They also played Quidditch in the nearby park, which was illuminated for the purpose. Everywhere lurked dementors and inferi, which they had to fight off, but as the kids were taken to Ollivander’s to get their very own wands, it was no big problem, although very exciting and a bit scary.

At 9.32 p.m. it all culminated at the town square with a big fire show to which the parents were also invited. Here the small but well-know Circus Black performed stunning things with fire, not only eating it, but also juggling with it, battling with fire swords etc. It was truly magic and the settings with the darkened town square and a white half moon partly covered by ragged clouds were perfect.

Tea did quite well at Hogwarts, at least she passed all her subjects and was reported to be extraordinarily good at playing Quidditch. While waiting to go to the graduation ceremony we parents had a hilarious conversation with Lucius Malfoy, whose wit was brilliant.

The Harry Potter Festival ended on the 12th where the city centre of Odense had been turned into what resembled a cross between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Here you could buy owls, wands and brooms, visit Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, write for The Daily Prophet or have a drink at The Three Broomsticks. I was very surprised to find that Rosmerta is actually an old friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen for ages, but it was quite good as she gave us free drinks all the time. The adult visitors were finally allowed to attend classes at Hogwarts and I attended Hagrid’s class and learned a lot about dragons and then of course I also had to take Potions. Snape took an instant liking to me - I wonder why?? - and I managed to produce a potion that he had never come across before. Very uplifting.

At the Weasley shop George (there was no Fred) taught me to do a very show-off magic trick and at Ollivander’s I acquired my very own wand; cherry and unicorn. All over the grounds you could meet the characters from the books, the teachers were there of course and the older students, and also Gilderoy Lockhart who signed autographs, Kinsley Schecklebolt, Fleur and Victor Krum, Krum being extremely kind and funny, by the way. The dementors and inferi were there as well, but with so many good wizards and witches around us we were never harmed.

We stayed at the market all day and when we got home Tea’s only comment was, "That was the best day in my entire life!!" Thank you to the library, the city of Odense and of course J.K. Rowling for the magic. Tea will be back at Hogwarts next year for sure!

@ Lise Lyng Falkenberg, 2008