Kensington braces for return of 'Diagon Alley' event

It takes a little more effort than the wave of a wand to transform Kensington and Sunnyside into a magical wonderland for Harry Potter fans.

This Sunday shops will once again roll out Potter-themed products and hold events for lovers of the popular book and movie franchise at the Spend a Day in Kensington’s Diagon Alley event.

Last year the unexpectedly large crowd of visitors took businesses by surprise. But this year’s event should sail as smoothly as a Hippogriff according to event founder Alex May.

“We were really overwhelmed by the response last year,” May told the Calgary Homestretch. “Literally overwhelmed. We didn’t stand a chance.”

“We appreciate people giving us a second chance”

Around 500 people were expected to attend last year, so organizers and business were amazed when more than 35,000 turned up for the event.

Gummi Boutique

The Gummi Boutique was overwhelmed with visitors on Sunday. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

The Gummi Boutique quickly sold out of their supply of Potter-themed treats and line ups were so long at the candy store called in extra staff to help serve customers.

“Some people were very patient, and others had an understandably frustrating time,” May said of the massive crowds and lines at last year’s event. “So we appreciate people giving us a second chance.”

Read for round two

May said there have been steps taken to make things go more smoothly this time around. There will be road closures, washrooms and a first aid tent available, as well as a water station and security provided on site.

“We’ve prepared … for the traffic that we had and more this year,” may said. “The business have really outdone themselves this year. We’ve got some amazing stuff on tap.”

With 2017 marking the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter series, Page Books on Kensington will have special editions of the novels available for sale and Storybook Theater will be performing a reading from the script of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at the Plaza Theater.

Potter, prizes and more

There will also be a Quidditch match at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association park, a costume contest presented by the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo and plenty of opportunities to drink Butterbeer.

No owl or letter from Hogwarts required.

May does recommend taking public transit to the event and said Calgary Transit has designed a commemorative “Platform 9-and-three-quarters” ticket stub to mark the occasion.

The event runs this Sunday from 10 a.m. to  5 p.m. and roads will be closed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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