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Harry Potter fans in the greater Philadelphia have been aware for a few years now of a growing Harry Potter Festival that takes place every year in Chestnut Hill, just north of the city. But now, thanks to word-of-mouth and some coverage on The Huffington Post, the festival, which takes place this year over the weekend of October 21-22, is growing, and word is out that you can even take the Hogwarts Express from Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station (or any station that will get you to Chestnut Hill West — that will be the Harry Potter route). Sure, it’s a SEPTA train, but most SEPTA rides around Philadelphia don’t include Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Dumbledore walking around the train to greet people.

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(Maybe it will even be safe for Dumbledore to hop back on a Silverliner V by the end of October.)

Every October, Chestnut Hill transforms into the village of Hogsmeade — which Potter fans know as the town near Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where Harry and his classmates would congregate to scheme over mugs of Butter Beer (which, by the way, you can get at this festival). The shops become those of Diagon Alley. Those who attend can be sorted into houses. There are wands and treats and Butter Beer and Harry Potter cosplay. There is even a quidditch match at Chestnut Hill College, which becomes the Hogwarts backdrop of the weekend.

This year, due to increased attendance (because yes, it’s not just you thinking about hopping on a plane or a train to come to Philadelphia to celebrate Harry Potter — there are lots of people who do it!), the festival is actually growing by several blocks.

Harry Potter Festival Schedule of Events

What can you expect from this celebration of all things Harry Potter?

Friday, October 21, 2016

  • Dig out your favorite Harry Potter costume and head out with your friends for the popular Harry Potter Pub Crawl around Chestnut Hill. Wristbands will go on sale September 28!
  • Harry Potter Conference at Chestnut Hill College. Let your Potter-nerd flag fly by attending this conference (which will actually take place on the 20th and 21st).

Saturday, October 22, 2016

  • Quidditch! Check out a quidditch match at Chestnut Hill College (a shuttle will run between the campus and downtown Chestnut Hill so that you can easily get back to town for more Hogsmeade exploration!). 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Festival core: don the Sorting Hat, attend Defense Against the Dark Arts or Potions classes, meet and greet with the Harry Potter characters, have a Butter Beer, and roam around Hogsmeade visiting the different shops and scenes. This year, the roads will be closed down to vehicle traffic, meaning that there’s more space for festival-goers to safely walk around.

While the event is held just outside of Philadelphia, it’s accessibility by train means that many people do travel for the event, and it’s kid-friendly. Check it out:

Sources: Visit Philly, Chestnut Hill, Chestnut Hill Facebook