So my original plan was to keep this post as a throwback post, but seeing as how today is my fellow Ravenclaw’s birthday today is as good a day as any!
Happy Birthday Luna Lovegood!
So earlier this month many, many Potterhead’s over the world gathered in their local book shops for Harry Potter Book Night – and I was, of course, no exception!
I was lucky enough to be able to attend two of these nights, hosted by Waterstones, as one was held on February 2nd and the other on February 3rd. I went to the Livingston night on the 2nd and the Edinburgh West End one on the 3rd.
I had never been to one of these events before so I was a little bit nervous: was this an event for kids, or was this an event for those who were kids when Harry Potter started? Or (as I had been led to believe) was this an event for all?
The Livingston Night
This was the first of my two nights, so enthusiastic-me gets all dressed up in my Ravenclaw robes, tie, white shirt and my grey trousers and school-style shoes and with my wand in tow (from the amazing Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida) and arrives at the Livingston branch of Waterstones just as the night is due to start.
My first thoughts went rapid-fire through my brain as follows: There are a lot of children here. Wow, every single one of them is a Gryffindor – go figure. Hmm, I’m the only adult here dressed up. Wait, I’m the only adult here without a kid! ABORT! ABORT! Turn around and walk back through the doors! It’s not too late!
But before I knew it, I was given a piece of paper asking for my name and help finding the golden snitch. Crap. I was going to have to stay (mostly because my ride home had already left to go to the gym, and I didn’t bring a change of clothes to walk home in).
So off I went, wandering round the store looking for the golden snitch amongst a sea of kids – I was the tallest in the crowd by a clear 2 feet and stuck out like a sore thumb. I was also heavily aware I was the topic of conversation of a few of the parents there. I found the snitch pretty quickly, but I’m going to pop that down to both my height and cognitive advantage over the children– not from lack of effort from the staff.
After that, there wasn’t really much to do for a while, and I admit I felt a little bit silly – me with my authentic wand and an age at least double that of the others taking part, and the kids with their plastic wands and enthusiasm to run around the store, colour in a picture of Professor Snape and find magical words in the word search puzzles.
So, I wandered around the store – after all, I came here alone and didn’t know anyone. Lucky for me bookstore browsing is a hobby of mine! I managed to come across the paperbacks of Heartless by Marissa Meyer and King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard (which wasn’t even supposed to be on sale yet!) both of which were on my wishlist, so I quickly bought them and tucked myself into a chair, and waited for the quiz upstairs to begin.
It was a long wait because I couldn’t start my new books as I was still reading The Diabolic by S.J Kincaid and I hadn’t brought it with me (I know, I know, rookie mistake). So I began to people watch. There were the mums, all chatting away amongst themselves whilst their kids played (special props to 2 in particular that were in Huffelpuff and Slytherin attire). Then there were the dads, most of whom were looking at the Star Wars merch or browsing the sci-fi and graphic novel sections. And then there were the kids – or I should rename them to the Gryffindor’s. All of them running around, flashes of yellow and red – part of me wondered if they would ever sort themselves (or get sorted) into anything other than the “hero house” of the franchise. And then there was a little flash of blue out of the corner of my eye and my heart leaped! A little girl, a little nervous, holding her mums hand as she looked for the golden snitch, in Ravenclaw robes. So there is hope for the next generation!
The quiz finally began – the entire café section of Waterstones was completely full! All the little teams were of kids eager to test their Harry Potter trivia knowledge, and a few parents were dotted around (for moral support or to low-key take part I’m not sure). There was also an easier, younger reader’s quiz going on downstairs, which I thought was a nice touch. There were also amazingly decorated Harry Potter themed cupcakes for sale in the café, I couldn’t help but buy a few! (Although I have to admit, whilst they looked incredible – the taste left a few things to be desired and they were quite dry!)
So this Ravenclaw went and sat on the floor at the back of the room (which was the only space left) by herself and named herself Alumni for the quiz team name. The quiz was broken into sections including spells, professors, and it even had a section for the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Let me tell you – this quiz was not for the faint hearted or novices! A couple of deceptively easy questions quickly gave way to the most obscure ones. Whilst there was a fair mix of easy, difficult and extreme questions, I do feel that – considering all of the teams were comprised of children (except for me) – the questions seemed overly hard, with final scores for the room being quite low across the board. I think that in the spirit of the night, and the audience, the quiz master should lower his difficulty rating for next year.
I think I placed 4th overall (I’m not 100% sure on that though) – which I didn’t think was too bad! The prize winners (1st and 2nd place) were two teams of children, who seemed to be genuinely into the Harry Potter world, and it was so wonderful to see their faces light up when they saw their prizes – I don’t think they thought there would be prizes at all! I couldn’t see the prizes from where I was, but they looked like “hampers” of Harry Potter goods, varying in size and RRP for 1st and 2nd place.
On the way out of the store at the end of the night, a few names were drawn out of a hat (not the Sorting Hat though) to be crowned winners of finding the golden snitch! The handful of kids won a miniature snitch of their very own! There were also small prizes like this handed out to the “best dressed” kids. Again, this was a beautiful touch to the night as the children didn’t seem to expect it.
All in all, the Waterstones Livingston Harry Potter Book Night was a mixed bag for sure. There was definitely more of an interest from children to actually show up to the night –yet the quiz was almost written for adults or for those few children who were deeply into the world of Harry Potter. Would I go again? Yes, but this time I would be more prepared to be the only adult as excited as the kids and I’d also have my “currently reading” with me!
The Edinburgh Night
I have to admit, after the initial uneasiness I felt from the Livingston night, part of me thought that the Edinburgh night would very much be a repeat. But the other part of me reminded me that this was the capital city of Scotland – there would be a much bigger crowd and a much broader range of ages…right?
I arrived about half an hour early to the store and immediately went to the toilets to change into my robes (as dedicated as I am, I was not about to walk through Edinburgh city centre in Hogwarts robes by myself). I came out and there were already preparations underway for the quiz – there was a long table being set up with all sorts of edible goodies on them, the staff at the drinks counter were getting something ready and the Sorting Hat took pride of place at the front of the room on a tall stool. So I sat down and both watched and waited – this time I had my book but I was far too fascinated by the food table! It was slowly getting filled with Doritos and other savoury goods and sweets, but what caught my eye the most were these tiny little cupcakes, each decorated with blue, red or green icing (poor Hufflepuffs! There were no yellow cupcakes!) and a plate of gummy “Nagini’s”.
Waterstones Edinburgh really went all out for their Harry Potter night! All of this was free and later I went and got my whole table a cupcake each – house colours of course! – and some Nagini’s too! They were also giving out free cups of “butterbeer” which, whilst not the same as the amazing Butterbeer at Universal Studios in Florida (or the still-ok-but-not-as-good stuff at the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford) was pretty damn good! It seemed to be apple juice mixed with cream soda and topped with whipped cream!
Gradually, and then all at once, the café filled up with lots of people – many of who were dressed up in house colours or attire (only a few were robed like I was) and many others were in some sort of Hogwarts apparel. There were also many, many more adults this time around! There were children too, but this definitely seemed to be a more mature crowd.
I had struck up a conversation with two people behind me (as I was sat on my own at a big table) to help pass the time until the quiz started. They were both at university and one was a big Cursed Child fan. Then two other adults came in, and by this time the café was completely full, they suggested forming a team and the new Hogwarts Alumni was formed!
I thought we stood a pretty good chance – 3 Ravenclaws, a self-described Ravenpuff and a Slytherin. Of course I only wanted to have fun and enjoy the night, but I’ve always been academically driven and I like competition!
This quiz was broken up into rounds too, and there were varying levels of difficulty. I felt that this quiz was much more in-tune with its audience and therefore was much more enjoyable, for everyone involved, not just the buffs! The questions were great fun and there were some real head scratchers! The quiz master was also brilliant! Half way through, points were collected and a current “leaderboard” was established. I think at this stage we were joint 4th or 5th with about 5 other teams (of whom my favourite quiz team name was “You’re a quizzard, Harry”)! The pressure was on!
The quiz went on, and as it did, each member of my team had a chance to shine. There were some questions we all knew, some that only one of us did and some that caused friendly arguments and moments of triumph and defeat between us. It was genuinely a wonderful night.
My favourite part was that I didn’t know anyone, and they arrived in twosomes, yet we all spoke to each other and got along as if we’d known each other for years. We shared in some dark humour at some of the quiz questions (such as pointing out which characters were dead when they cropped up as an answer – I dunno, I guess you had to be there to find it funny) and we were enthusiastically talking and sharing memories about our Harry Potter experiences – Universal Studios in Florida, the Studio Tours in Watford, when we read the books, who had seen the Cursed Child at the theatre – it really was a fun evening!
So the quiz continued and it suddenly dawned on us that we stood a really good chance of placing in this quiz! We got so excited and so comically impatient to hear the scores. Again, at this point we had no idea there would be prizes –we were just so into the quiz!
We ended up placing 2nd in the entire tournament! Plus the team in first place only beat us by HALF A POINT! We were beyond happy! We were genuinely so, so happy to have achieved what we did for nothing more than the shear trivia knowledge of it all! We were so busy grinning at each other we didn’t notice a staff member approaching us with a bag full of Harry Potter goodies! The prize was a hamper full of things like house crest pins, mini-kits, colouring books, Fantastic Beasts notepads, Pop! Vinyl figures and other Harry Potter related merch!
We all shared the prize and came away with the items that we wanted with no arguments! My eye was on the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – I’d wanted that for ages and I couldn’t believe that it was not only a prize, but a small part of the overall prize! Luckily, my team mates either already had it or didn’t want it! So I was lucky enough to be able to claim the book and the Waterstones tote bag as my personal prize! (and that was just the 2nd place prize! I didn’t see 1st place but I’m sure it was equally as impressive!)
So the evening ended with a photograph of the placing teams, me trying on the sorting hat (I couldn’t resist) and a happy thank you and goodbye to my team mates. We all left smiling and happy for the night itself (although the prizes sure helped!) and we all had (dare I say it) a magical night!
Would I go to the Edinburgh Harry Potter Book Night again? Absolutely. Every time!
I would like to extend my personal thanks to Waterstones for hosting these events (and the many others they host) and for helping fandoms come together, new friendships to form and a lot of fun to be had. Whilst this was only my experience of two of the many events during Harry Potter Book Night, I would highly recommend them to anyone and everyone – even if you’re the only adult there!
If the world of Harry Potter has taught me anything, it’s unapologetically embrace who you are and what you love.
[PLEASE NOTE]: I was not paid or sponsored to write this event review (although Waterstones, if you’re reading this –hello! 😉 ) – All the opinions are honest and my own.