Harry Potter Chestnut Hill Festival

To continue with my recent Basic B*tches weekend….On Saturday my friends and I headed to the 5th annual Harry Potter Festival in Chestnut Hill, PA! For those around the Philly area, this is a festival that many of us know about. The whole main street of Chestnut Hill (not far from Center City) transforms into a wizarding world for a day with many of the shops participating. There would be sorting hat demonstrations, Harry Potter themed baked goods, Butterbeer, a Dementor’s dance, Quidditch and a whole lot of dressing up! And while the festival has grown over the years and is always free to attend, this time was going to be different because the festival committee was going to have the street shutdown. My friends and I are big Potter fans and had planned on attending the event when it was announced to make a return this year, but a few months later national online news organizations picked up word about this Harry Potter Festival and suddenly people from far away states were stating on Facebook that they would be attending too! Now, anything Harry Potter would be big news for fans, but I was surprised by the attention it got because I know that the festival wasn’t going to be anything like Harry Potter World in Florida and Chestnut Hill isn’t a huge town so accommodating so many people would be rough. And one woman was writing on the festival’s Facebook page that she was bringing her kids and driving around the flooded areas ravaged by Hurricane Matthew to attend. Woah lady, I know this is free and all, but you might as well use the money to buy tickets to Harry Potter World……So my friends and I were expecting it to be really busy and we were soooo right!

Unfortunately the day of the event it was SUPER cold, rainy and windy so our costume ideas were kind of dampened. I didn’t have a costume at all though, I just bought a ‘Hogwarts Alumni’ t-shirt and was going to call it a day. I didn’t really want to spend a lot on an outfit and with it going to be so cold I knew that I would be bundled up. But I did have a Moaning Myrtle costume idea in mind! I was going to wear the toilet seat and all ;) She my favvvvv hehe. Some of my friends had more elaborate outfits, but they too scrapped majority of what they were going to wear because of the weather. Luckily, Rachel bought all of us Harry Potter glasses :D so we looked a bit more Potter-esque.

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Rachel and her Scabbers <3

We took a Lyft to main street Chestnut Hill about an hour before the big activities were to start since we knew traffic would be bad around the area. When we got there we checked out a few stores that had homemade Potter themed items and then saw a sign for a sorting hat activity! We were pretty excited because since we got there early, we could stand in line sooner and have more time to see other things scheduled during the day. Oh no, we were most definitely wrong about that. We stood outside in line for probably 45 minutes in very cold wind and slight rain. While we waited there two stands for “wands” and ‘goods from the trolley’ near by. We took turns checking them out while we waited, but the wands were really lame. Small and not very impressive looking. The ‘goods from the trolley’ weren’t too bad. Chocolate frogs, sorting hats and butterbeer cupcakes. But it was when we finally reached the door to the store that was hosting the sorting hat activity that we got a rude awakening. Not only was the activity a $5 charge which was not posted ANYWHERE on the signs outside, but all they made you do was wear a sorting hat on your head, sit at a table and take a quiz to find out what House you belonged too! That’s what Pottermore.com is for! I mean, we knew a sorting hat activity wouldn’t consist of doing much but sitting with a hat on your head, but the combination of just standing in line to take a quiz and paying $5 in cash, which I didn’t even have, was certainly not worth it. We left without paying and told others in line what to expect which prompted some to leave as well.

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Us in line for the sorting hat demonstration

After that disappointment we got some lunch and then headed back over to check out stores and other activities. We met a wall of people when we tried to do so. The festival was officially in full swing. I kind of expected that since close to 50,000 people said they were interested in going. I really have no idea how many people actually went, but I heard 30,000. That may have been true, there were A LOT of people. But it was awesome because so many were dressed up in great costumes! This was hands down the best of the day –

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Top costume prize in my book!

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We really didn’t get to do any of the activities that we had planned on seeing, but I did enjoy just walking the streets to see what the stores had to offer and how the festival decorated the town.

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Oh those goblins are so clever

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It’s hard to read the sign, but the one on the right says ‘Hermione and Ron Registered here’ Hahaha Perfection.

And how cool are these Snapchat filters? Nice going, Harry Potter Chestnut Hill Festival marketing team!

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While I wouldn’t call the festival a success, I wouldn’t call it a complete failure either. There are some definite changes that need to be made if there’s a next time, particularly the bathroom situation. The one big thing that I learned in my Event Management grad class was the importance of bathrooms. For 30,000 people I only saw 2 Porta-Potties! The national attention I think also really hurt them in the end. Chestnut Hill just can’t hold that many people. But anywhere that I go with these ladies, I know that I’ll have a good time <3

And that’s a wrap for our Basic B*tches Weekend!

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With love,

Melissa

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