Accio Calendar! The 9 Most Magical Events Taking Place for New York’s Sure-to-Be-Blockbuster Harry Potter Exhibition

Don't miss these Harry Potter-themed events taking place at the New-York Historical Society.

Mary GrandPré designed the cover for J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, published in the US in 1998. Courtesy of Scholastic.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the US publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and the New-York Historical Society is celebrating in a big way. On Tuesday, July 31, the title character’s birthday, the museum announced a downright magical list of events and programming to accompany this fall’s highly anticipated, all-but-certain blockbuster, “Harry Potter: A History of Magic.” Fans of the beloved J.K. Rowling series should mark their calendars because this is sure to be epic.

The exhibition originated at the British Library in London, where it quickly became the institution’s most popular show of all time. It will be on view in New York October 5, 2018–January 27, 2019, drawing from the collections of both institutions, in addition to other loans. Visitors can expect rare books, manuscripts, and magical objects representing centuries of folklore and magical tradition.

Brian Selznick designed the cover for the new US edition of J.K. Rowling's <em>Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone</em>, released in Jun 2018. Courtesy of Scholastic.

Brian Selznick designed the cover for the new US edition of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, released in Jun 2018. Courtesy of Scholastic.

The historical society’s iteration will feature never-before-seen objects, some from Rowling’s personal archives—including her own illustrations—and from those of the series’ US publisher, Scholastic. The illustrations from the first American edition, by Mary GrandPré, and the most recent, by Brian Selznick, will be on view as well. The UK editions of the books will also be represented, with drawings by Jim Kay, the original illustrator, as well as the new Broadway play, with sets and costumes from the hit Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

To accompany the show, the museum has planned an ambitious slate of events for adult fans—plus a separate list of family programming—celebrating all things Potter, from Sorcery Saturdays promising late-night access to the exhibition plus treats and crafts (October 13 and November 17; $25) to a panel discussion on how the books have been translated into other languages (December 11; $35). To help you best prepare for this magic extravaganza, we’ve cherrypicked the nine best, can’t-miss events from the exhibition’s entire run. (Rowling, sadly, is not on the docket.)

Fans of the Harry Potter books in line outside the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2017, waiting to see a rare copy of <em>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone</em> filled with personal notes and drawings by its author, J.K. Rowling. Photo by Neil Hanna/AFP/Getty Images.

Fans of the Harry Potter books in line outside the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2017, waiting to see a rare copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone filled with personal notes and drawings by its author, J.K. Rowling. Photo by Neil Hanna/AFP/Getty Images.

Monthly Harry Potter Trivia Night

As any true nerd knows, fandom is a competitive place. So why not prove that your knowledge of the Wizarding World and overall Harry Potter love reigns supreme at one of the museum’s trivia nights? It’s run by Pottermore, and they are promising themed cocktails for sale and “outstanding prizes” up for grabs, including collectible boxed sets of the books and as-of-yet unnamed items from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child—that’s right, this could be your chance to win tickets to the critically acclaimed show.

October 5, November 2, December 7, January 18; $25

Potions and Painting

This is a Harry Potter-themed paint and sip. Let me repeat, a Harry Potter themed paint and sip. There is wine and cheese, and a painting class based on objects in the exhibition. Each night in the series will feature a different themed, based on the Hogwarts subjects Care of Magical Creatures, History of Magic, Herbology, and Transfiguration.

October 12, November 9, December 4, January 8; $35

Owl Walk and Talk

One of the most delightful things about the Wizarding World is how witches and wizards communicate via owls, who faithfully deliver letters. Wildlife artist and illustrator Alan Messer will lead a walk through Central Park, teaching guests about North American owls—and possibly even spotting a local Great Horned Owl.

October 13, October 20; $38

Illustrating Harry Potter With Mary GrandPré, Brian Selznick, and David Saylor

David Saylor, Scholastic’s creative director, has been the art director for all seven of the publisher’s editions of Harry Potter. We can’t wait to hear what he’ll talk about with GrandPré, who created the iconic covers for the first American run, and Selznick, who designed a new set of covers unveiled in April. The comparison between GrandPré’s experience working on an unknown children’s book to the challenges Selznick faced creating an all-new look for an internationally beloved set of characters is sure to be fascinating.

October 25; $35

Halloween: An Evening of Magic

The calendar’s spookiest holiday features prominently in the Harry Potter series—it’s the day Harry’s parents are killed by Voldemort, setting the entire series into motion, and the day he solidifies his friendship with best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, after they take out a troll terrorizing the girls’ bathroom. The series is also rife with Halloween costume possibilities. Therefore, what better way to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve than at the historical society’s Halloween party, which will offer “magical crafts and activities,” as well as late-night access to the exhibition.

October 30; $35

Growing Up With Harry Potter

Full disclosure: This reporter is personally looking forward to regaling crowds with tales of her childhood obsession with Harry Potter—I talked my way into a guest appearance on local television program The God Squad, as a child expert explaining the series’ appeal to the priest and rabbi hosts—at this open mic storytelling event, moderated by the Story Studio.

January 7; $35

An Evening with Jim Dale

British actor Jim Dale recorded the audiobook versions of all seven Harry Potter books, an arduous task that involved creating over 200 distinct character voices. Dale will share tales from his time in the recording studio, and from other areas of his multifaceted career.

January 9; $44

History of Magic in America

For those of you who weren’t lucky enough to attend college before Harry Potter courses came into vogue, this is your chance to fully nerd out on the real-world equivalent of the series, with a one-day course about magic in American culture. There are also classes on the history of European magic (December 15; $40), folklore (December 6; $35), and Alchemy (November 15; $35), and a six-session course on the international history of magic (beginning October 16; $200).

January 19; $40

The Harry Potter Effect

Over the last 20 years, Harry Potter has become a worldwide phenomenon, ushering in a new age of children’s and young adult literature. Moderator Karen Ginman of the New York Public Library will lead a discussion about how the series has entered our cultural consciousness and influenced pop culture.

January 23; $25


“Harry Potter: A History of Magic” will be on view at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (West 77th Street), October 5, 2018–January 27, 2019.

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