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Harry Potter launch parties in NYC: Where to celebrate the eighth installment

The Boy Who Lived is back.

It’s been nine years since the seventh Harry Potter book was released. On Sunday, July 31 (also Harry’s birthday), the eighth official installment, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” is launching in stores across the United States. And New Yorkers can’t wait.

Across the city, bookstores are hosting launch parties in celebration of the book, a two-part stage play that takes place 19 years after “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” The play is set to officially debut in London on Saturday, July 30.

Strand Bookstore

Strand Bookstore is hosting a book release party
Photo Credit: Strand Bookstore

Strand Bookstore is hosting a book release party on Saturday night starting at 9 p.m., complete with a Sorting Hat ceremony, face painting, trivia and a photo booth. Treats from Fat Witch Bakery will be served, and the trolley witch from The Hogwarts Express will make an appearance. Costumes are highly encouraged.

Whitney Hu, communications director at Strand Bookstore and a self-proclaimed Potterhead, said they're expecting a crowd of as many as 500 people - mostly 20- and 30-year-olds - at the launch party, which is only open to customers who preordered a copy online.

"We also have a lot of families, too, because some of us original Potterheads have kids and are able to share that [passion]," said Hu, 25, from Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Calling the Harry Potter universe "everlasting," Hu said she's excited to read "Cursed Child," even though it'll feel different from reading an actual book. The play is a collaborative project between J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany, a theater director from England, as opposed to a book solely written by Rowling.

"We're all happy for our next Harry Potter chapter, no matter what form it takes," Hu said.

Books of Wonder

Books of Wonder, the oldest independent bookstore for
Photo Credit: Books of Wonder

Books of Wonder, the oldest independent bookstore for children in NYC, will open its Saturday book launch party to the public. Customers will get to enjoy demonstrations from actual magicians, three live owls provided and handled by Tackapausha Museum and Preserve in Seaford and tons of giveaways. The grand prize is a U.S. copy of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," signed by J.K. Rowling and Mary Grandpre, the illustrator.

Manager Scott Wong said he couldn't give a crowd estimate because the number keeps climbing every day due to last-minute pre-orders, only that they're expecting "hundreds."

He said there's a sense of nostalgia surrounding "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," particularly for Books of Wonder customers and employees who are now in their mid-20s.

"It's growing up with what some people are considering to be classics," Wong said. "It's kind of a surreal situation, which makes the whole experience just that much more enjoyable when you're surrounded with people that share that passion."

When the third book, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," was released back in 2004, Books of Wonder hosted a book signing with Rowling.

Barnes & Noble, TriBeCa

The Group that Shall Not be Named, a
Photo Credit: Barnes & Noble TriBeCa via Facebook

The Group that Shall Not be Named, a NYC-based Meetup group of more than 2,500 Harry Potter super fans, will coordinate a series of activities for the book launch party at Barnes & Noble in TriBeCa, including an interactive "Intro to Spells" lesson and a wand dueling workshop. Similar activities will take place at the Brooklyn Cyclones game in Coney Island on Sunday, which the team has dubbed "Harry Potter Day."

Jonathan Rosenthal, 36, the head organizer of The Group that Shall Not be Named, said the Harry Potter franchise is sustainable for years to come, evident from the perpetual fanfiction, cosplay and organizations like The Group that Shall Not be Named.

"(Rowling) built this very real universe, and people can just keep building off of that," said Rosenthal, who will be dressing up as Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, at the launch party.


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