Woodstock is set to come under the spell of “Harry Potter” this week.
The Wizarding World of Woodstock will descend on the Woodstock Square from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 27. Hosted by the Woodstock Public Library, the city of Woodstock and the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the “Harry Potter” celebration will feature wands and potions, dance and music, “fantastic beasts” and a costume parade and — of course — butterbeer.
The Woodstock Opera House will play the dual role of Hogwarts and check-in spot.
The decision to turn downtown Woodstock into a Potteresque wonderland was inspired by the 20th anniversary of the publication of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” according to Woodstock Public Library Director Nick Weber. He said Mary Ryan, the library’s youth services librarian, was the first to bring it up.
“She brought it to my attention back in March, or maybe February, that it was the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first ‘Harry Potter’” book,” Weber said.” I said, ‘Wow, has it been so long?’”
The immense popularity of J.K. Rowling’s book series means the Wizarding World of Woodstock has the potential to interest people of all ages, Weber said.
“It’s pretty broad because of the appeal of ‘Harry Potter,’” Weber said. “The kids who were 10 to 15 when the book was released are now in their 30s, and their kids are getting into it now, too.”
More than 20 Woodstock businesses are participating in the event, hosting book trivia, selling Potter accoutrements, serving up wizard-themed dishes and more. Woodstock Chamber Director Danielle Gulli said organizers are optimistic the event will draw plenty of people to town — in fact, she said, “We hope we’re not overwhelmed by such a great turnout.”
As of July 24, about 2,500 had indicated on Facebook they were interested in attending.
“I think [local business owners] are always excited to try a new event to spark some interest in downtown Woodstock, and getting people who’ve maybe never been here to come down,” Gulli said.
Among the groups taking part in the event is the quidditch team from Loyola University Chicago. The team, which plays a version of the game inspired by “Harry Potter,” complete with chasers, keepers and seekers, will play on the Square from 5 to 7 p.m. A screening in the Park in the Square of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” will close out the event beginning at 8:30 p.m.