Harry Potter’s magic transforms Kensington

Bustling Calgary neighbourhood becomes Diagon Alley for a day to celebrate the release of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’

It was a magical afternoon in Kensington over the long weekend, with the release of the latest installment of the Harry Potter universe, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, bringing fans of the franchise together once more for the first major reveal since the final film adaptation of the original series hit theatres in 2011.

The Cursed Child book revisits the world of the boy wizard and his friends 19 years after the final story in the original series takes place (and in real time, 19 years after the very first novel was published). The tale, which was penned by screenwriter Jack Thorne with input and final approval from J.K. Rowling, comes to readers in the form of a script, rather than a novel. But although the story departs from the previous style, timeline, and author of the original series, it is clear Potter fans strongly supported the expansion of the treasured magical world.

Even though it has been almost a decade since the seventh and final novel’s release, and five years since the films based on Rowling’s work came to an end, Potter fans continue to remain active and frequently updated by Rowling via Pottermore (the series’ website).

Although the exact turnout for the July 31 event in Kensington is not certain, estimates by event organizers, participating businesses, and local media place attendance in the mid-thousands. This resulted in sudden road closures in the area by city police to keep everyone safe.

As for the book itself, Richard Young, manager of Pages on Kensington, where Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was being released, said he’s “never had a book sell like this.”

“We knew it was going to be a big deal,” he said while folding Kensington Diagon Alley maps between the pages of each sale, his hands a blur. “But even with something like Potter — especially with Potter — you just can’t anticipate it. There’s no way to be ready for something this iconic.”

Cursed Child sold more than 2 million copies throughout North America over the first 48 hours of its release. Pages sold out of their thousands-strong stock approximately a half hour before the enchanting day came to an end at around 5 p.m.

Photos by Michaela Ritchie

Published on: August 5, 2016