Ithaca, N.Y. –– Wizarding Weekend returns Oct. 26 with magical new ways to enjoy the festivities.
In its fifth year, the festival will take over three city blocks, transforming downtown into a labyrinth of music, games, vendors and art.
Magic-inspired music acts like Flitwick and the Charmers will be playing at the Bernie Milton Pavilion, while Quidditch matches and other gaming will take over Press Bay Alley. The Bernie Milton Pavilion will also feature a trivia contest and a costume runway.
New Roots Charter School will be transformed into the GorgeKeep School of Magic, where guests can participate in a Scroll Ceremony, and be assigned quests. Also at GorgeKeep, augmented reality helps users see inside Ithaca’s own magic academy.
“There is an augmented reality experience that is made possible by VisionLab360,” said Festival Director Darlynne Overbaugh. “They’re a local company that has last year and this year graciously volunteered to create something special. Attendees do need to bring their own smartphone or tablet of sorts.”
New this year is the potions crawl –– a food and drink experience in collaboration with Ithaca Coffee Company, F. Oliver’s, The Commons Kitchen, Green Street Pharmacy, Emmy’s Organics, Lucky Hare Brewing, Alley Cat Cafe, and the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. Alley Cat Cafe will be featuring Penelope Purrington’s Pumpkin Patch Potion, and for the first time there will be alcoholic concoctions created for the festival, as part of the potions crawl. Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is debuting their Sea Pig Tentacle Tonic for adventurous witches and wizards above the age of 21.
“It’s a great example of the imagination that goes into this event,” Overbaugh said. “Nothing excites me more than getting people to engage in that creativity.”
Most of the festival is free, but guests can purchase Magical Passports to gain access to the potions crawl and other extra activities. You can purchase passports for $25 on the festival website.
The other big change to the festival this year is the leadership. FanUnity Inc, a non-profit founded in part by festival originator and director Darlynne Overbaugh, is putting on this year’s Wizarding Weekend.
“Wizarding Weekend since its inception in 2015 has been a completely volunteer situation. I have been both fiscally and legally responsible for the event since it’s inception,” she said. “So in an effort to remove that burden from one person, we’ve started FanUnity inc.”
Overbaugh has faced legal action by Warner Bros., the owner’s of the Harry Potter brand, for infringement on their intellectual property.
“The idea for Wizarding Weekend came about in 2015 when two local teens thought it would be cool to have an event that was themed to a certain book in Ithaca. At the time I was a business owner in press bay alley,” Overbaugh said. “The other business owners thought it would be a good idea and so I volunteered to put something together –– something modest, and it exploded.”
Since the festival has grown –– reaching a peak of over 20,000 guests in 2017, there have been ongoing issues with Warner Bros. including a new matter regarding a trademark patent Overbaugh had submitted for the “Wizarding Weekend” name. This year she received notification from the US trademark patent office that her trademark was being contested by Warner Bros. Because of this, organizers are debuting a new name for the festival on Oct. 26 at 11 a.m.
“We’ve complied as much as we can and will continue to do so. and what I’m more excited about is the opportunity to make GorgeKeep a bigger part of the festival and to go beyond where we have started,” Overbaugh said. “Everything grows, everything changes and so has this festival.”
The festival will take place Saturday, Oct. 26 10 a.m. to 5pm and Sunday, Oct. 27 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Mystic Arts Ball at Liquid State Brewing from 9 p.m. to midnight on Saturday.