Monday, May 15, 2017

Harry Potter Festival- Roanoke, VA

This year, we celebrated Mother's day a little different than usual. Typically MOther's day is spent hiking, stopping at the Farm markets in Cana to buy a hanging flower basket and perennial flowers, and then out to dinner.

This year we celebrated it, at the first ever Roanoke Harry Potter Festival. i first caught word of the festival months ago, and was able to snag some free tickets when they first offered them when the festival was still in it's planning stages.  

So you can imagine my dissapointmment when i printed up our free tickets and my husband pointed out that my daughter had a double header softball game the same day. i was pretty much devastated. 

The day before the festival it rained all day. My daughter's softball practice was canceled, so i had my fingers crossed that the games the next day would be canceled too. i kept checking the weather and there was zero percent chance of rain for Sat. So i may or may not have cast a little rain charn. ;) Friday night we recieved word that both games were cancelled due to rain. 

So Saturday we got up early and headed straight to Roanoke, dressed up in our best wizard robes ready to enjoy the festival. The sky was clear and sunny. Not a drop of rain all day. Perfect weather for an outside festival. We stood in line, behind many other witches and wizards waiting to exchange out tickets into wristbands that would give us access to the festival.  This is the offical festival map. Not being very familiar with downtown Roanoke, it was pretty hard to follow.  We actually missed seeing quite  lot, as the places that were participating we not really marked well. 

Being that this ws the first year of the festival, so we really didn't know what to except. In the past my experience with first time festivals is that there are usually a lot of kinks to work out, and it typically takes a couple of years to get it right. In orher words, they usually suck.

This one was no different, it was all volunteer run. We had a fun time, even though there wasn't much going on.   The best part of the festival for us, was seeing all the cosplay. There were so many recognizable characters hanging out for photo opts, and also tons of fans in full costume. Sometimes it was hard to tell who were the volunteers and who were just fans at the festival. 

They only had a couple food vendors, but we really enjoyed the butterbeer cupcakes.

They had a few different photo opts set up. We got these out of the way when we first arrived, so we didn't have to wait in too much of a line.

The vendors were really sparse, and most didn't even have Harry Potter Merchandise. i did want to give a shout out to the Meckley Brooms who came all the way from Pennsylvania. Meckley Brooms has been crafting household brooms over 100 years, spanning 6 generations. Today our brooms are used as tools, d├ęcor & costume accessories. Their handmade brooms were absolutely gorgeous and a perfect fit for the festival. i do hope they did okay, to make the trip worthwhile so they come back next year.  You can purchase their fabulous brooms on etsy as well.

This is me totally geeking out over the Snape impersonater. ha ha. My daughter told me i looked like a total fan girl, smiling from ear to ear.

We also tried out the butterbeer. The had both alcholic and non-alcholic butter beer for sale in the beer garden.

Many of the area business had special menus and decorations to 'transform' Roanoke into Hogsmeade. It was pretty sparse, and i would have liked to see more decorations, larger signs and i think all the downtown employees should have been in costume, The festival was definitely lacking when it came to an authentic Harry Potter feel. It was more like a very small street festival with a few people in costume.  Roanoke's Candy shop became HoneyDuke's, although it didn;t really. It always looks like this...tee hee, but it's a fun candy shop and seemed to be a very popular spot during the festival. 

We enjoy center of the square in down Roanoke, even when there isn't a festival going on. So we had a lot of fun just wandering around looking in the shops and farmer's market.  i'm sure anyone who traveled more than an hour or paid for tickets to the event were probably very dissapointed. There were a much of classes that required registration online, but every time i checked the classes were all full. So we were unable to register for anything.  Then according tot he reviews, a lot of classes were almost empty, because those who registered failed to show up. So hopefully next year, the classes will be first come first serve or handled a bit differently. 

 For the first year, it was fine for a free event. i hope that the folks putting it on, listen to some of the critiques and improve it for next year. i would LOVE to see it become an annual event. i think with just a few improvements, it could really be a fantastic festival.

Both kids really enjoyed seeing all the cosplay and getting their photos with the different characters. There was a scheduale of bands playing, but we never heard or saw any of them. We went into the Market building where they were sorting people into their houses, but it was so crowded the kids opted out of being sorted. i think all the official merchandise was being sold in the market building as well, but we never saw it.   We found one vender in the farmers market area, from Tink's place that was selling some Harry Potter themed items and both kids picked out a t-shirt. They has a really neat design and were pretty reasonable at $15 each. 

This was just a fan, but i thought he did a fantastic job with his Sirius Black costume.

The transportation Museum was supposed to 'transformed' into King's Cross station. You could see platform 9 3/4, and the Hogwarts express and i think Hagrid and Professor mcgonagall were supposed to be there. It was an additional $5 per person though, and after the lack of decorations downtown, we decided we didn't really need to pay $20 to see it.  If the kids had been interested in the transportation museum, it would have been one thing..but they weren't.

The science museum also had Harry Potter themed activities for the day, but at $15 a person, we decided to skip that too. 

There were some different paid activities that had to be registered for ahead of time, like the end of year feast, Yule Ball and Quidditch match, so we didn't get to do any of that either. 

We just stuck with the free stuff and had a fun time walking around Roanoke. i do understand how folks that traveled a long way to the festival would be disappointed, but for a first time festival run by volunteers, what did you really expect?   We are already excited about the next one....which we are hoping they will have. With just a few improvements, i really think this could become a new favorite annual tradition. 


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