71° Good Afternoon
71° Good Afternoon
Things to Do

Harry Potter's birthday: How to celebrate the 'boy who lived' in NYC

"Harry Potter & the Sexy Hallows" is just one option to put on your HP bucket list.

Harry Potter's 20th anniversary can be celebrated no

Harry Potter's 20th anniversary can be celebrated no matter what your wizarding flavor, including at a burlesque show. Photo Credit: Manish Gosalia

It's been almost 20 years since "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" appeared on bookshelves, forever changing the lives of millions of children and adults.

Two decades is enough to make us Potterheads feel old, and it's not going away anytime soon, either. With "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" out on Broadway and tons of themed events around the city, there's no sign of an end to the mania.

Here's how you can celebrate Harry Potter's birthday (July 31) and the first book's anniversary (Sept. 20):

Take a potions class

“Potions” classes at the “Wizarding School of Alchemy” — an undisclosed space on the Upper West Side that copyright law forbids organizers from calling Hogwarts — guide students in the process of brewing adult and kid-friendly concoctions from ordinary ingredients with magical names. You'll consult recipe booklets as you mix small bottles of “mermaid scales” and “unicorn tears” under the watchful eye of a potions professor, for example. Don't forget your robes.

Brush up on your magic knowledge for the O.W.L.s

East Harlem's New York Academy of Medicine, which includes a Hogwarts-esque library of 33,000 rare books dating to the 15th century, has released an online digital collection of "How to Pass Your O.W.L.s at Hogwarts: A Prep Course." The collection includes pages from books that show drawings and writings about the elusive dragon, magical unicorns, infamous mandrakes and plants used for medicinal (and magical) purposes. Log on at

Test your fandom with trivia

A number of city bars are hosting Harry Potter trivia with Trivia, AD, to celebrate his birthday, including Slattery's Midtown Pub, Slate NY, Stone Creek Bar and Lounge and McHale's Bar & Grill, leading up to the anniversary. You'll select a team captain and go through five rounds of O.W.L.s levels.

Toast to the series with themed drinks at Barcelona Bar

When people order the “Harry Potter” shot at Barcelona Bar, a bartender presents a Sorting Hat, which “picks” one of the four Hogwarts houses, lends them scarves based on the house and glowing magic wands while the theme song plays. Do it. It'll make you feel magical.

Watch the newest installment of the series on Broadway

"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" is all the rage on Broadway, but if you don't have tickets already, you may have to wait on this one. The show, which won multiple Tony Awards, is a new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. It focuses on Harry’s struggle to keep his past behind him and his son, Albus, who must deal with the weight of the family legacy 19 years after his father defeated Voldemort in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” The play is presented in two parts that can be seen consecutively on the same day or on different days. 

Go to Azkaban for brunch?

We're not sure why you'd want to go to the most infamous prison in the Wizarding World, but you can for this brunch event at a secret Manhattan location in August. The immersive brunch will place you at a prison called "Aethon," an unbranded version of Hogwarts named for the birds that circle it, will give participants characters to play out. Once you've broken out of prison, you'll be able to celebrate with "gigglewater" (prosecco) and a two-course brunch. Bring your robes, glasses and beards. 

Go to the equivalent of a crazy night at Hog's Head Inn

A bit farther off in September, this bar crawl event will include wands, color-changing cups and LED bracelets that will tell you when to head to the next venue. You'll listen in on live music, DJ sets, get drink specials, themed drinks and swag you can take home. We know Professor McGonagal wouldn't approve, but hey, you're an adult wizard now.

See another side of Harry at Hotsy Totsy Burlesque

We had no idea Harry Potter had these moves. Joe the Shark and Cherry Pitz and the performers at Hotsy Totsy Burlesque are transforming themselves into the beloved characters for "Harry Potter and the Sexy Hallows" on July 12.

Harry and his friends are celebrating his birthday, but something goes wrong every year. No fear, Cherry Pitz has the answer — a potion, "Felix Felicis" ("Liquid Luck"), that she's put in everyone's drinks. That was probably a bad idea...

Get nostalgic about how the story has impacted you

Harry Potter: A History of Magic,”an exhibition of rare books, manuscripts, and original drafts and drawings by author J.K. Rowling and illustrator Jim Kay, is coming to New York City, but Harry’s fans will have to wait until October. It's OK, though, it'll arrive in time to celebrate the Sept. 20 anniversary of the U.S. publication of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by Scholastic. The exhibit will be open Oct. 5 through Jan. 27, 2019.

Things to Do Photos & Videos