20 authentic Harry Potter experiences in NYC

As a true Harry Potter fan, I was stunned to discover that in a city filled with things to do there are not many Harry Potter experiences. It was depressing but I refused to give up. I reached out to “Harry Potter NYC - The Group that Shall Not be Named”, a fan group with almost 3000 members to get all the details on what there is to do to support the boy who lived. After chatting, we came up with a list of 20 magical experiences including food, drink, trivia, live musical performances and much more. Together my three girlfriends and I, dressed in proper Potter gear, and went off to do as many as we could in one weekend.

Harry Potter immersive experiences

The reason you’re reading this article is because secretly you want to live in Harry’s world. Here are 8 interactive activities that can be done in New York to experience the magic first hand.

1. Puffs, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic, gives you a front row seat to the sidelines of the world’s most famous magical journey. This show is spellbinding (literally). Named one of Hypable’s top five plays of 2015, Puffs “exudes a jovial, winking fondness for all things Harry” (The New York Times) as it follows the story of a young wizard named Wayne Hopkins and the Puffs–a group of well-meaning, loyal rejects with a thing for badgers. The show is now on stage at The Elektra Theater. Get your tickets today!

Photo credit: Hunter Canning. Front Row: A.J. Ditty, Zac Moon, Julie Ann Earls, Langston Belton, Andy Miller. Back Row: Madeleine Bundy, Jessie Cannizzaro, Stephen Stout.

Photo credit: Hunter Canning. Front Row: A.J. Ditty, Zac Moon, Julie Ann Earls, Langston Belton, Andy Miller. Back Row: Madeleine Bundy, Jessie Cannizzaro, Stephen Stout.

2. The Wizard School Scavenger Hunt: Hogwarts is supported by magic (unable to be maintained or constructed by any other means) and a good example would be the moving staircases and disappearing rooms (The Room of Requirement). Exploring the Met on a Harry Potter scavenger hunt will make you feel as if you’re following the mysterious footsteps that wander around Marauders Map. On this 1.5 hour challenge, you’ll search for art that echoes characters, places, and enchanted objects in the famed Harry Potter books and movies. Be prepared to track down a powerful sorceress, a Snape-like potions master, flying owls and dragons, Hagrid-like giants, centaurs and unicorns like those you’d see in the Forbidden Forest, strange mermaids and sharks that seem straight out of the Triwizard Tournament, fierce knights in armor, and cloaked and masked figures as scary as any Death Eater or Dementor. We did their "Murder at the Met" hunt and it was a blast.

3. Test your knowledge with Harry Potter Trivia Nights at Slattery’s and The Bell House. Can you defeat New York's best wizards and claim victory? Warning: no muggles allowed during trivia nights.  

4. Pottercon: Join your fellow Pottheads on for PotterCon, the official annual NYC day-drinking & mingling destination for Harry Potter fans ages 21+! Discover your Hogwarts house once and for all in a live sorting ceremony, show off your witchy digs in Madam Malkin’s Robes For All Occasions Costume Contest, and don’t forget to bring your Remembralls for their super-stumping trivia.

5. Major League Quidditch: Quidditch is a wizarding sport played on broomsticks. It is the most popular game among wizards and witches, and, according to Hagrid, the equivalent to Muggles' passion for football. As unbelievable as it sounds there is a Major League Quidditch team in NY. It is a national league that runs from June 1 to August 30. Their season features 16 teams from the United States and Canada. NYC's team is the New York Titans! Every team plays three games against every other team in its division, for a total of nine games.

6. Harry Potter in Concert: On March 31 and April 1, join your fellow wizards at Radio City Music Hall to watch Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone to a live orchestra. Tickets are on sale now so get them before it’s too late!

7. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them: On November 18, watch the new JK Rowling movie in theatres. This one takes place in New York! The year is 1926, and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in NYC for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident, were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt's fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.

8. See all 8 ‘Harry Potter’ Movies Returning to Theaters for One Week in IMAX - Imax and Warner Bros. are teaming up to screen all eight “Harry Potter” films for one week, starting on Oct. 13. The showings come a month before the Nov. 18 release of the “Potter” spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” The event also marks the first time both “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” — the first two movies in the series — will be shown in Imax theaters. For more information click here. 

Harry Potter themed cocktails, shots & bars

What better way to experience the sorcery of Harry Potter than with the magic of alcohol. I searched far and wide to uncover hidden gems in the city that would be perfect for potions hour -- I mean cocktail hour.

9. Felix Felicis, also called "Liquid Luck", is a magical potion that makes the drinker lucky for a period of time, during which everything they attempt will be successful. The Eddy serves a Harry Potter Felix Felicis Cocktail that could bring you luck or a hangover. Let’s hope for the former. The secret to their drink is that it’s made with enchanting ingredients, one of which is real gold.

10. Barcelona Bar has famous Harry Potter shots that are filled with theatrics. Order it and you’ll see your bartender “transform” into Harry, complete with circular glasses, a Gryffindor scarf and all. Beware this shot involves waves of fire!

11. Harry dreaded potions class with Snape and although Apotheke has a potions class like feel, this is one bar that you won’t hate. Here, the presentation of the cocktail is just as important as the cocktail itself. Similar to a potions textbook, they organize the menu based on what effects the cocktails will have. Choose from health & beauty, painkillers, stimulants, aphrodisiacs, euphoric enhancers and stress relievers.

12. The Ministry of Magic uses a telephone booth as the visitor's entrance that transports visitors from ground level to the Atrium. To activate the entrance, one dials 62442 (spelling "magic") on the telephone. Please Don’t Tell, a speakeasy, has a Ministry of Magic phone booth like entrance and incredible craft cocktails that are so good you’ll think it’s magic.

Hogwarts experiences in New York

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was everything to Harry. It was there that he found the Sorcerer's Stone, courageously entered the Chamber of Secrets and foolishly crashed a car in the Whomping Willow with Ron. Relive your favorite moments at the castle by visiting the following New York destinations.

13. Harry has Hogwarts, but we have Radegast Hall, the New York version of the enchanted castle. The interior has a striking resemblance to the Great Hall with a Medieval feel.  On the walls and ceiling you’ll see crests that look similar to the Hogwarts seal. Radegast Hall is an authentic Biergarden (or shall we say Butterbeer garden) with delicious German cuisine. Stop here for an enchanted lunch (no house elves included).

14. Interested in exploring Hogwarts a bit more? Head to the Hogwarts library look alike, Books of Wonder. It is New York City's oldest and largest independent children's bookstore, as well as the city's leading specialist in children's literature both old and new. One of the premiere locations for Harry Potter midnight book launch parties, BoW would offer magicians, live owls and other magical entertainment. BoW also contains a gallery of original and special edition signed works by Mary GrandPre, the artist for the American editions of the HP books. In the special collections section you can see rare and antique copies of famous children’s books including editions of Wizard of Oz and other classics.

15. In Hogwarts, the room of requirement is a magical room that can provide whatever is needed to those who know how to look for it. Although NYC can be considered one big room of requirement, a more specific example would be the amazing Evolution Store. Home to every manner of curiosity and specimen you can imagine.

The boy who lived inspired edible experiences

Harry, Ron and Hermione planned many of their adventures over a meal. Take part in the best of New York’s magical scene with these 5 bewitching edible experiences.

16. Dolores Umbridge’s office was draped in lacy covers and cloths. On the walls were a collection of ornamental plates, each decorated with a large technicolor kitten wearing a different bow around its neck. Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon conjures up a similar look. Here they serve a five course British brunch that tastes as magical as it looks. What better way to immerse yourself in Harry’s world than having the cuisine to match?

17. Experience an evening of conjuring and culinary excellence at A Taste of Magic. A magic show dedicated to combining two beloved and spellbinding pieces; fine food and great closeup entertainment. Performances are set at world renowned restaurants around NYC: Tout Va Bien Bistro, Gossip Restaurant, Dock's and now Ben and Jack's Steakhouse. Between each course, world class entertainers will astound and delight you with a closeup magic show right at your table. Dumbledore would be proud.

18. Hogsmeade is the only all-wizarding village in Britain. Mainly, students frequent the High Street in the village which contains the named specialty shops and pubs such as Zonko's Joke Shop and Honeydukes. To experience dinner with a Hogsmeade feel, head to Fiddlesticks Bar and order favorites such as Bangers & Mash or Shepherd's Pie.

19. Harry Potter has Honeydukes, but New York’s Dylan’s Candy Bar can give it a run for its money. This is a three story shop dedicated to every conceivable sweet, confectionery and candy imaginable. They offer over 7,000 varieties to choose from!

20. Craving butterbeer? Get it from Starbucks. It's not on the menu, but customers can give baristas a special recipe that will produce a drink similar to the beverage enjoyed by witches and wizards. Beware this is only available during the holidays because of the ingredients! The secret mix for butterbeer is a creme frappuccino base with 3 pumps each of caramel and toffee nut syrup. Top with more caramel syrup and magically you have butterbeer!

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