Cast a spell in Odense: Home of the world’s biggest Harry Potter festival
Whip out your wand, put your broom in gear and find your best pointy hat. Did you know, that the world’s biggest Harry Potter festival takes place in Odense, Denmark, in October? And that it is visited by more than 10.000 people every year? For die-hard Harry Potter fans, the festival is a dream come true as they get as close to walking in Harry Potter’s shoes as they ever will. Characters from J.K. Rowling’s magical universe roam the streets, and for people living in Odense, such as myself, it is a treat to rub shoulders with Lord Voldemort, Albus Dumbledore and Dementors when you go shopping in town. The festival is mainly for kids, but anyone with a soft spot for Harry Potter will have fun at the festival.
The seeds of the festival were planted in 2001 in a small library in Odense. A librarian thought it could be fun to drag Harry Potter out of the books and into the real world, so he and the rest of the staff dressed up as Harry Potter, Snape and Hagrid, invented some games and spells and invited 80 children. They loved it, and today the festival is a big deal in Odense. Almost all the cultural institutions such as the Royal Danish Ballet School, art museums and evening schools take part in the festival, and children of all ages have fun learning how to cast a spell, ride a broom and play Quidditch. If they get thirsty after running around, they can get a butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks, and it is even possible to go on the Hogwarts Express. And this is not some make-believe train, it’s an actual train.
A non-commercial festival
What I personally really like about this festival is that it is non-commercial meaning no one is trying to stuff merchandise down your throat. It is a very conscious choice made by the people in charge of the festival, and I love it. Instead of having to say “no, no, no, no” all the time, you can actually enjoy the time you spend with your kids at the festival.
But alas, rights lawyers from Warner Bros. cast the Immobulus spell on the festival in 2018 and moved to prevent Odense Libraries from using names and images related to the Harry Potter films. So what will happen now? It seems like the Odense Libraries don’t want to give up on the festival and has given it a new name: Magical Days. The festival will go on, and kids will still be able to immerse themselves in a magical universe with spells and interesting otherworldly characters.
When: Every year in week 42 (fall break in Denmark)
Price: It’s free. Yes, it really is – not kidding you!
The programme: Magical Days
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