A magic festival takes over Downtown Aurora for a second straight year this weekend but this time under a new identity.
Following last year’s successful Harry Potter Festival a renamed Downtown Aurora Magic Festival of Wizardry takes place on Saturday, June 9 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on the Water Street Mall.
Harry Potter became the boy who must not be named after festival officials were contacted by an attorney for entertainment giant Warner Bros. over copyright issues.
Festival organizer Kate Purl said dropping the name will have some consequences when it comes to ticket sales and interest, but believes this “new” festival will offer all the magic the fans could hope for and allow for lovers of different entertainment franchises to enjoy as well.
Last year the Harry Potter Festival sold 4,500 tickets in 45 minutes. This year, the Magic Festival has sold around 1,500 tickets in two months.
Purl explained that when speaking to an attorney for Warner Bros there was no offer of a possible licensing option, but hopes that in the future they can work something out to be able to carry on using the Harry Potter name.
“Last year you were allowed to use the Harry Potter name as long as it was for a small, not-for-profit festival. They yanked that this year,” Purl said.
Aurora was not the only location for a Harry-Potter-themed festival. Purl says that she knows of others on the East Coast that are also affected.
“(It) sounds like most festivals are taking a year off to regroup after Warner Bros. came in and started shutting people down,” Purl said.
Purl was surprised by the news from Warner Bros because they were following all the rules laid out the previous year. However she didn’t realize the regulations had changed.
Despite the licensing complications, the new Magic Festival will offer lots for fans to experience. Warner Bros. did grant permission to play Quidditch, the popular broomstick sport in the Harry Potter series.
Other features won’t be much different from last years. While visitors won’t be able to get a wand made at Ollivander’s, they can still stop by a wand-making booth.
The festival will also feature a costume contest and since organizers and Warner Bros agree that you can’t control everything people wear, there will probably be some Harry Potter outfits scattered throughout the crowds.
There will be tons of magic-themed vendors for visitors to enjoy. Booths will feature art, jewelry and even henna, all inspired by the wizarding world.
“We had a really great time last year. It’s a lot of fun to get a lot of fans together and I think that even though we can’t use Harry Potter’s name a lot of people are still going to be engaging in the spirit of Harry Potter,” Purl said, “It’s a lot of fun when you have a couple thousand nerds getting together to celebrate something that they love.”
An informal pub crawl for adults — the “Sorcerer’s Stumble” — kicks off the festival from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on June 8 around downtown. Attendees can purchase a souvenir button for a $5 donation to the various non-profits the festival is benefitting.
To purchase a pub crawl button, pick up wristbands for Saturday’s festival or any pre-ordered merchandise, look for their booth at Water Street Mall on Friday, June 8th.
Tickets for the festival are still available at downtownauroramagic.org, or via Downtown Aurora’s Facebook page.
— Aurora’s Magic Festival is on – even if boy wizard can’t be named —