The countdown to the release of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child published script is down to just a few days, and my fingers are already twitching to grab hold of my pre-ordered copy. Of course, not everyone is looking forward to reading the play, as one Rioter previously explained. I, personally, am not passing up the opportunity to dive back into the world that captivated me as a child – and a solid portion of my excitement comes from the fact that I’ll get to attend a Harry Potter midnight release party at least one more time.
But I have a number of friends who have never been to a Harry Potter release party, whether because they didn’t have parental permission, they didn’t live anywhere near a bookstore, or they got into the series too late. People who have never experienced this particular fandom phenomenon might be wondering what to expect at their local midnight release. If you’re in this situation, fear not! The following guide is for you.
- Expect plenty of Hogwarts-themed attire. Most Harry Potter fans, as you are probably already aware, will not waste an opportunity to break out their house gear. Costumes range from normal clothes with a Ravenclaw tie as their sole HP accessory all the way to complete cosplay. Also expect a range of characters to appear. Even though Bellatrix died years ago, I don’t doubt that at least one person will show up to the party in full-on Bellatrix, hair and all. However, if you don’t have HP gear, don’t stress. No one will look down on you for not dressing up. It’s a casual, come-as-you-are-most-comfortable, no-judgment atmosphere.
- Expect to brush up on your Harry Potter trivia. Where else are you going to find this many Harry Potter fans in one place, other than the park down at Universal? The answer is… probably nowhere. It’s almost guaranteed that the bookstore you’re at will hold some sort of trivia contest. I’ve seen trivia questions posted around the store in a scavenger hunt before. I’ve seen individual groups of attendees break out their own HP trivia cards and questions. So if you’ve forgotten who’s in which house, or who’s related to whom, or which creatures eat what… you’ll find that the midnight release party is the perfect time to brush up on your knowledge of J.K.R.’s universe. If you want to get really competitive about it, start studying now.
- Expect to entertain yourself for at least part of the time. All the bookstores I’ve been to for midnight Harry Potter releases have done a fabulous job of curating activities to keep the crowd busy. You might find Hogwarts crafts, make-your-own-edible-potion stations, costume contests… the possibilities are wide open. That being said, if the party starts at, say, 7 or 8 pm, that’s still four or five hours to spend in one place. Even if you hit up all the offered activites, you’ll probably still end up with at least an hour, probably more, of down time. Be prepared to wander the stacks and find other great reading material. Bring a deck of cards, if you feel like it. Catch some Pokémon. It’s up to you to find enough to keep yourself busy until the clock strikes midnight.
- Expect to be fully reminded about the magic of Harry Potter. Whether this script ends up being a let-down or not, I know that the midnight release party I’m attending will bring back that nostalgic experience of leaving the muggle world behind for even just a few hours. Harry Potter defined my childhood, and the characters in the series still influence my life today. I know I’m not the only person who feels this way, and I can’t wait to spend time with other fans in mutual anticipation of the new Cursed Child material.
If you are headed to a midnight release party, have a fantastic time! Remember to be safe driving home, be polite in line for your copy, and don’t spoil the script for other readers. And if you’re a midnight release party veteran, what tips have I missed? Let me know in the comments! Happy reading.