Butterbeer, wizards, and muggles: more than 40K turn up for Harry Potter event in Kensington

Kensington was filled with plenty of magic — and people — on Sunday when upward of 40,000 descended on the northwest neighbourhood for the return of Diagon Alley.

Many dressed in full costume, fans of the Harry Potter book and movie franchise — along with a few muggles — wandered in and out of 47 participating businesses along Kensington Road N.W.

The street was transformed into a world of wizardry to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the bestselling series.

Outside, revellers enjoyed a quartet performance by members of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, listened to a reading from the J.K. Rowling books by Storybook Theatre and watched Quidditch matches at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association park.

Those who rode the LRT also arrived at a reimagined Sunnyside Station, which was transformed into “Platform 9-and-three-quarters” for the event. In the books, the station platform is a gateway between the Muggle (non-magical) and magical realities.  

“I’ve seen four generations of Harry Potter fans at this event today, a young baby and the great-grandma and they’re all in costume,” said Ellen Parker, communications director for Kensington Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ).

“It’s such a lovely event because people are peaceful and calm and they’re into reading and literature and art and magic, so we have a really lovely community.”

Harry Potter Calgary Diagon Alley

Kensington was transformed into a world of wizardry on Sunday for the second annual Diagon Alley event. (Julien Lecacheur/CBC)

It was a much smoother operation than last year, when organizers expected around 500 attendees to turn up but were overwhelmed when crowds swelled to around 50,000.

“It’s a cult following with Harry Potter and you don’t see huge events like this, just for Harry Potter, in Calgary,” said Parker. “You might see something like this in London or in New York, but we’ve created something that has such a targeted audience, that feels truly connected… so everyone from the city who is interested in Harry Potter comes down.”

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