All merchants will have to do is wave their magic wands next week, and Main Street will transform into Diagon Alley, Harry Potter’s favorite destination.
That’s right, Keene Wizarding Week is upon us again, July 27-31, five days of fun, wonder, magical delights—and maybe even a little education—in honor of the iconic J.K. Rowling character’s birthday (July 31).
Last year, even during a pandemic, 15 downtown stores and local artists participated—this year, it’s more than 20.
“People are more energized to bring (Keene Wizarding Week) to life,” said Amy Christiansen-Schoefmann, an organizer of the event and owner of Eat More Cake bakery in west Keene.
The store Life is Sweet celebrated Harry Potter’s birthday for the past decade; and last year was the first time the event, free to local businesses, involved the entire downtown community.
“It was way more successful than anticipated,” said Christiansen-Schoefmann about the 2020 Wizarding Week. “Merchants were able to see that so this year they put in a real effort to make it worthwhile for them.”
Several events-within-the-event will be going on throughout the week, with Shadow & Soul Emporium leading the charge. First off, the store will be giving out 500 flying keys and magical spell kits and offering themed merchandise such as brooms, wizard and witch teas, wands, sorcerer’s stone necklaces and more.
Also happening at the store during the week will be a series of wizarding classes inspired by the series of Harry Potter books. Participants will recognize Professor Snape, leading a potions class; Professor Trelawney, offering a class in tea leaf divination; Madame Hooch will teach broom flying lessons and Professor Sprout will lead an herbology class during which participants will make a magical terrarium and learn the everyday uses of plants featured in the books like dragon dung and gillyweed.
Other downtown events include a daily costume contest, the winner of which will win free tickets to the Yule Ball at the Colonial Theatre’s new venue, Showroom. A cosplay team will also come to the event dressed in character for a few days, visiting different merchants and offering photo ops by donation.
The family-friendly Yule Ball will include music, finger foods, a cash bar and some surprise visitors as well as birthday cake. Formal or character attire is required. Those attending may take dance lessons that week at Ember Studios to prepare.
Many participating downtown restaurants will offer themed food and beverages during the week.
On the list: 21 Bar and Grill; Life Is Sweet, which will turn into Harry Potter’s favorite candy store, Honeydukes; Luca’s Mediterranean Cafe will become Platform 9 ¾, where Harry Potter caught the train to Hogwarts each semester; Machina Kitchen and Art Bar (transforming into The Three Broomsticks and offering such selections as chocolate frogs and specialty cocktails like the Helga Hufflepuff, with vodka, chartreuse, honey, lemon and soda); Keene Confections Pastry Shoppe; Piazza Ice Cream; Ye Goodie Shoppe; and the Stage Restaurant. Several restaurants will participate in a butterbeer competition—butterbeer being Harry’s beverage of choice. (Christiansen) will lead a pop-up store in Soul Emporium featuring her hand-crafted themed sweets like chocolate wands.
Several merchants will offer themed merchandise in honor of Keene Wizarding Week, starting with Mon Amie Fine Jewelry, which will offer Harry Potter cauldron and sorting hat bracelets for $20 and house color bracelets for $15. The store will also give away Harry Potter glasses and wand pencils while supplies last.
Catbird Flower Farm’s super secret Magical Herbal Division will be providing fresh magical flower bouquets, also at Soul Emporium. Each bouquet will include one of these keepsake paper flowers hand crafted from the pages of a Harry Potter book.
Hannah Grimes Marketplace will be the Owl Emporium throughout the week, offering wizard goods, beauty potions, tinctures and more for sale; and MamaMurphDesigns will offer “marvelous magical mementos,” hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind themed items including bookmarks, water bottles, wine glasses and more.
Peacocks Nest will feature herbs, face painting, glitter tattoos and body care products; and Sunset Luna Art will do one-of-a-kind hand-crafted themed items including stained glass pieces.
Toadstool Bookshop will become the Harry Potter store, Flourish and Blotts, and offer special themed items; Urban Exchange will sell Gladrags Wizardwear, second-hand attire for wizards and witches; BadMamaBear will also offer unique hand-crafted themed items; and Cozzzy will be offering hand-crafted themed bandanas, scarves and hair scrunchies.
Numerous crafters, including a costume designer on Saturday, will be set up at the gazebo on Central Square.
A handful of other stores will participate; check the schedule on Facebook, which is updated every day.
Main Street will remain open to traffic, merchants have agreed to be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and people from all over New England and beyond are expected to attend, said Christiansen-Schoefmann. The street will be lined with banners honoring the event. She recommends maintaining social distance and bringing drinking water in the case of extreme heat.
She also recommends all merchants staff accordingly even if not participating because large crowds are expected to attend.
“This is more than we imagined happening,” said Christiansen-Schoefmann.
Keene Wizarding Week is next Tuesday, July 27, through Saturday, July 31, throughout downtown Keene. For the most up-to-date information posted daily, visit Keene Wizarding Week on Facebook. Tickets to the Yule Ball can be purchased at www.thecolonial.org; and tickets to classes at Soul Emporium at emporiumschool.as.me