Happy Birthday, Harry Potter

If you didn't book your tickets to Hogwarts in time, celebrate the birth of the Boy Who Lived at one of these local events.

Harry Potter Birthday Bash
Saturday, July 28, 1-3:30 p.m.
Haverford Township Free Library, 1601 Darby Road, Havertown, Pa.

If it weren’t for the “Harry Potter” franchise, Jenifer Phillips might still be a surgical technologist. “I was so captured by the magic, and I was like, ‘I have to do something with books,’” Phillips said of her career change. “I had to get out of a sciencey field.”

Now, as teen coordinator at the Haverford Township Free Library, one of Phillips’ most prized duties is planning the annual Harry Potter Birthday Bash, which commemorates the titular character’s July 31 birth. For six years, Phillips has organized the event at various libraries in the area. This year’s extravaganza, set for Saturday, promises even more magical moments.

The theme is “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” the fourth book in the series. Following last year’s record attendance numbers — about 250 fans showed up, Phillips said — the library is trying some new attractions. The annual haunted house, featuring a maze and a graveyard, will be expanded and moved to a larger part of the library.

This year’s guest speakers are geared to an older teen crowd. Jeff Ambrose, a Harry Potter academic, will speak on the gender stereotypes in “The Goblet of Fire,” and author Lorrie Kim, who penned a guide to Snape, will discuss the character.

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Other activities include a character scavenger hunt, where participants will be on the lookout for actors dressed as “Harry Potter” personalities, a Quidditch World Cup flag-making activity, a Moaning Myrtle salon where visitors can be inked with temporary tattoos, a make-and-take wand station, and, of course, birthday cake with Polyjuice potion to wash it down.

With the cancellation of Chestnut Hill’s Harry Potter Festival, Phillips sees this event as a way to rekindle the community-minded excitement around the franchise. “Last year, I had a ton of people that came up to me and my co-workers here and said, ‘We look forward to this as much, if not more, than the Chestnut Hill Festival,’” she says. “It made us really proud here at Haverford Library.”

Phillips aims to continue the event well into the future — and preliminary planning for next year is already underway. The theme? “The Sorcerer’s Stone.”

And for more Philly wizardry, don’t miss out on other Harry Potter-themed events this weekend:

The Geeky Cauldron: A Harry Potter Pub Quiz
Thursday, July 26, 8-10 p.m.
Fado Irish Pub, 1500 Locust St., Philadelphia
Want to test your knowledge of all things Potter? This quizzo night will feature questions from the books, movies, “The Cursed Child,” “Fantastic Beasts,” and related stories. Register your team (up to six players) beforehand and compete for a cash prize.

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” in Concert
Thursday, July 26, 7:30 p.m.
Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Ave., Philadelphia
The third film in the “Harry Potter” series will be displayed on a 40-foot screen. Even better, the Philadelphia Orchestra will perform the score.

Potter Prom Night
Friday, July 27. 8 p.m.
Fado Irish Pub, 1500 Locust St., Philadelphia
Costumes aren’t required, but are highly encouraged at Fado’s Harry Potter prom. (Jeans, sneaks and T-shirts are frowned upon.) Not only will attendees be dressed in theme, but the bar will serve a wizardly meal in the ambiance of floating candles. Dance all night, cast your vote for Wizard and Witch King and Queen, and drink Butterbeer until your heart’s content.

This article is part of a new effort recommending things to do in the Philly region. Tell us what you think.

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