Related: 15 wardrobe essentials for the Harry Potter-obsessed
Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Clearly the most obvious place to get a Harry Potter high is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWHP) at Universal Orlando. Even if I weren't a Harry Potter fan, Universal's re-creation of Hogsmeade and Hogwart's Castle are cool enough to impress even the most cynical theme park attendee. I could spend all day at the WWHP, but I'd need to leave everyone else behind -- I'd want to wander and see every little corner of every little shop, and drink my butterbeer with wild and private abandon.
A Celebration of Harry Potter
Naturally, Universal Orlando would have an event at The WWHP in their Islands of Adventure park. While it's a little too late for most of us to attend this one (as it begins January 24th), it's not the first time Universal Orlando has offered a gathering like this. It can be assumed that these types of events will continue on as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter grows and continues to see enormous success. One perk of this particular event, is that it is official rather than run by fans -- meaning more involvement with the actual cast and crew of the original movies. Guests of A Celebration of Harry Potter will also most likely get a sneak peak into Diagon Alley, a much anticipated addition opening this summer.
Universal just released photos (like the one on the right), and information about the newest addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter -- King's Cross Station, and Diagon Alley. If you're familiar with Universal Studios theme park, the attractions are being built just to the right of San Francisco, before you hit MIB and the Simpsons. Not only will you be able to take the Hogwart's express back and forth between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, you'll be welcomed by a whole new group of experiences, treats, and features unique to Harry Potter. Some of the announced attractions include, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, a larger and more interactive Ollivander's wand shop, as well as the Leaky Cauldron and Knockturn Alley. Universal Orlando's newest Harry Potter addition opens summer of 2014.
Camp 9 3/4
Camp 9 3/4 is an adult camp (ages 16 - 96) that promises to be the least expensive Harry Potter experience available. Some camp offerings include Quidditch matches, house cup championships, nightly wizard rock concerts, and Harry Potter book/movie debates. The best part? "We exclusively rent out the entire camp facility, which means no muggles!" Camp 9 3/4 takes place October 10 - 14, 2014 in Marble Falls, Texas. The registration fee is $250 - $400 (the site isn't terribly clear about what this includes). Find out more here.
A fan based conference that started around Harry Potter, and has grown to include almost any fan, LeakyCon claims to be a cross between ComicCon and SXSW. Any age is welcomed, although the suggested age is 11+. You can expect celebrity appearances, Wizard Rock concerts, book signings and a marketplace. This is a great conference for the young adult who is into everything at the moment (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Dr. Who, etc.). LeakyCon takes place July 30 - August 3, 2014 in Orlando, Florida at the Orange County Convention Center. Registration is $100-$350 (does not include travel or lodging). Find out more about LeakyCon here.
"You bring the wands, we'll bring the magic" is the tagline to this small by-fans-for-fans Harry Potter conference taking place Memorial Day weekend in 2015. The theme will be 'Wizarding World's Fair'. Since the event is still awhile away, there isn't much more information, but there is an option to sign up for a mailing list for further and new information. Event takes place May 21-25, 2015 in Laconia, New Hampshire at the Margate Resort.
With no specific dates or announcements for 2014 or beyond, Alohamora was a conference held in London in partnership with LeakyCon, allowing those in Europe to celebrate the boy who lived in the place he was born. From the looks of Facebook it was a very successful event, so hopefully they'll follow it up with another successful gathering of wizards and witches. Watch their Facebook page for updates about the Alohamora conference.
Harry Potter Festival and Academic Conference
Held at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Harry Potter Conference is an even deeper and more academic gathering of Potter geeks. Free and open to the public, some of last year's presentations included 'Expelliarmus! Revenge and Incarceration in the Harry Potter Series' as well as 'Shhhh! Hermione and the Marginalization of the Hogwart's Library.' I personally would love to hear college professors discuss the merits of wizarding and magic. While no specific details have been released for 2014, it takes place at the same time as Chestnut Hill's Harry Potter Festival.
International Quidditch Cup
Did you know there are more than 300 Quidditch teams all over the world that compete against each other? THIS IS A REAL THING. I mean they don't fly, but there are broomsticks, snitches, keepers, beaters and quaffles. Even better? It's a completely co-ed sport. You can find an event to attend, a team to join, or find out how to begin a team of your own, on their website.
For those of you wondering if a themed conference is right for you, MuggleNet has put together an article that runs down what you can expect at almost every Harry Potter conference -- from costumes, schedules to planning. (One tip: Bring money! You're going to want to buy everything from the conference marketplaces). You can read that article here.
-Photo Credits: Harry Potter Festival
-By: Casey Mullins