Harry Potter and friends are making the journey from Hogwarts to Bourbonnais. Wizarding Events, a division of The Bennett-Curtis House in Grant Park, will be hosting Wizard Festival at 11 a.m. July 31 at Northfield Square Mall.
The day is jam-packed with themed events for people of all ages to enjoy their shared love of all things Harry Potter. Wizarding Events hosts Potter-themed dinners and fests in different locations (including The Bennett-Curtis House), but this specific event is designed to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday, as the character’s date of birth is July 31, 1980.
“We’ve been Harry Potter fans since it started,” event manager for The Bennett-Curtis House and Wizarding Events, Nicole Zizic, said of the Bennett-Curtis team. “We went to [the theme park] at Universal and thought how cool that would be to bring some of that fandom and atmosphere back up by us.”
After that trip a few years back, the original plan was to run a Potter-themed dining event at The Bennett-Curtis House for a few weeks. The event was much more popular than anticipated, which led to the dinners becoming more frequent as well as building a larger-scale festival.
“We change it up every time as we have new locations and new events,” Zizic said. “We build out different facades and have different backdrops and props.”
With the ever-evolving collection of props, Zizic and her team are able to continue implementing more and more references to the book and film series. Examples include a Weasley station with Mrs. Weasley’s knitting needles and a grandfather clock adorned with different faces.
The many items and a photo booth provide ample photo opportunities. There also will be photo ops with individuals dressed in character.
Zizic said many attendees dress up for the occasion, whether it’s in a Hogwarts T-shirt or a full Snape outfit. She expressed the organizers encourage dressing up, as it adds to the experience.
Additionally, organizers cater in food and drink with a themed menu. Of course, Butterbeer will be on tap and available for purchase.
One of the popular elements of the event is Wizard Alley, which features a number of theme-related vendors. The Ollivanders booth features more than 40 types of wands.
“We invite fandom vendors and themes to the event,” said Zizic, who added they vary from specific wizard-themed products to candles, jewelry and more. Vendors from the area, as well as vendors that travel to different Wizarding Events locations, will be on site.
In order to make sure all attendees are kept safe while still participating, everyone will be given a schedule upon arrival that breaks them into groups. Groups will take turns starting in one area and moving to the next. Each group will have a “study hall,” which is a free time to eat, check out vendors and take pictures.
“We cater to all ages, from toddlers and up,” Zizic said.
For more information, go to bit.ly/MagicInBourbonnais. Wizarding Events is offering attendees $5 off online tickets by entering “Magic” as the promo code.