For one weekend a year, the neighborhood of Chestnut Hill transforms from a quirky, quaint shopping and hangout spot to a life – sized version of the Harry Potter world. Overnight, the shops lining cobble-stoned Germantown Avenue adopt magical names and recreate scenes direct from J.K Rowling’s novels. Quant café’s become The Three Broomsticks or Madam Puddifoot’ tea shop and add Butterbeer and pumpkin juice to their menus. Many of the events, like the straw maze, the Horcrux Scavenger Hunt, or costume parade are catered to children. There are still some events like the Potter Pub Crawl or the free HP movie marathons, which are more suitable for the adults and college students that frequent the area.
Plenty of events and entertainment are crammed into this three-day weekend but here are the five reasons I wouldn’t miss this annual event.
Meet some Potter Characters
Popular characters like Ron, Hermione and even, Mr. Potter himself, can be seen wandering the streets and hosting magical events. I spotted Ron and Hermione helping some kiddies make their own wands outside of a candy shop and after missing Dumbledore’s Defense Against the Dark Class, I finally tracked him down. Unsurprisingly, he was observing a jellybean-eating contest.
While it’s fun seeing how the shops transform, the real pleasure comes from participating in the many activities. Areas are set up for visitors to write Harry Potter haikus, compete in pie eating contests, and learn some spells.
Enjoy Some Magical Treats
Chestnut Hill is home to a number of award-winning bakeries and restaurants. When this time of year rolls around, the normal menus are accompanied by some Potter specialties. One local bakery added peanut butter golden snitches, cupcakes decorated in Gryffindor colors, and mini parcels full of delicious cake.
The line at the candy shop wrapped around the corner as people waited to get their hands on chocolate frogs, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, and gummy insects.
Another café served iced Butterbeer which , suspiciously, tasted a lot like root beer.
Watch a Quidditch Match
After loading up on goodies, you can head over to Platform 9 ¾ to catch a free shuttle to Chestnut Hill College. Here, you can camp out on the sprawling lawn and watch a real life Qudditch game. Well, it’s more like real life college students straddling kitchen brooms and kicking balls through hula-hoops. But the games do get very intense; it’s not uncommon to see a rival player pushed off his brooms or for the spectators, sporting their house colors of course, to yell praise and insults at every goal.
*Harry Potter weekend usually takes place the weekend closest Halloween.