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7 events in Utah to celebrate Harry Potter’s 37th birthday

Harry Potter, the “boy who lived” and put the entire world under a spell, turns 37 on July 31.

Fans first met Harry, who shares a birthday with his author J.K. Rowling, on his 11th birthday at the opening of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” — or “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” as it’s called in the U.K.

Because the Harry Potter series is set almost a decade before its release, according to Time magazine, Harry Potter is now celebrating his 37th birthday.

This year is a special year for fans, since June 26 was also the 20th anniversary of the book’s release in the U.K. And after two decades, Harry’s story is still popular.

“We love an underdog,” said Levi Elder, director of programming for the Salt Lake Film Society, which will host a weekend marathon of Harry Potter film screenings. “We can see ourselves in the underdog and it inspires us to see them achieve great things, and that makes us believe we can also achieve great things.”

Hunter Library manager Davie Bird, founder of the Potter Run, a charity 5K, said the idea of a secret wizarding world and the characters in that world are what make the story endure.

“It’s … how relatable the main characters are — Harry, Hermione, Ron,” he said. “That relationship relates to kids, it relates to adults, people just fall in love with them, and they grow up and they still do. They care a lot about these people.”

So for Potterheads looking to celebrate the birth of their favorite wizard, here are seven events to consider.

‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ in concert with the Utah Symphony

Utah Symphony announced last September two “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” concerts in December as part of its Harry Potter Film Concert Series and ended up adding a third concert in January “due to phenomenal demand,” according to a previous Deseret News article.

Harry Potter fans who missed the first three concerts have another chance to hear Utah Symphony perform the entire soundtrack as the film plays in the background, this time at Deer Valley Resort’s Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, on Saturday, July 22, at 7 p.m.

Paul Meecham, president and CEO of Utah Symphony and Utah Opera, said in a previous interview that the organization has purchased laser projectors that will allow the films to be shown outside before it is completely dark.

Tickets are $36-$75 for adults and $15 for youths with an ID.

Harry Potter House Cup Tournament

The Wall lounge and restaurant in Brigham Young University’s Wilkinson Center in Provo is hosting a Harry Potter House Cup Tournament July 25-28.

Multiple activities and challenges will take place each day of the tournament at Kiwanis Park, 820 N. 1100 East, Provo, at various times. According to the event’s registration website, points will be awarded to each house based on how quickly they can complete each challenge, and the tournament will conclude Friday, July 28, with a scavenger hunt and feast.

Registration is $10 per person. Each house will have five teams of five people.

Weekend at Dumbledore’s

Salt Lake Film Society is slated to host Weekend at Dumbledore’s, a marathon of all eight Harry Potter films over the course of two days.

Elder said the film society, which shows primarily independent films, recognizes an intersection between “indie and nerd culture” and saw Harry Potter’s birthday and the 20th anniversary of the book’s release as a good reason to bring fans together.

The marathon will be at the Tower Theatre, 876 E. 900 South, with the first four films being screened in order on Saturday, July 29, starting at 11:30 a.m., and the last four films showing Sunday, July 30, starting at noon. Tickets to each film are sold individually for $6.75 for each show, and Elder said anyone who buys tickets to all eight films will receive a free, limited edition T-shirt.

‘20 Years of Harry Potter Magic’

According to a previous Deseret News article, The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City was early to the Harry Potter craze, at least for an independent bookstore 5,000 miles away from J.K. Rowling’s home base.

So, of course, the bookstore is celebrating Harry’s birthday and the release of the book with a night of all things Potter, “20 Years of Harry Potter Magic,” on Friday, July 28, at 5 p.m.

The bookstore will transform into Hogwarts for a night and offer classes in herbology, potions and charms that will be taught consecutively in each of three time blocks, at 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:20 p.m. Registration is open to patrons 11 and older and is $10.

For younger audiences, a storytime will be offered from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and free face painting, fortunetelling and a Harry Potter-themed scavenger hunt will be available throughout the day.

Potter Run

The fifth annual Potter Run is a celebration of the Badgers, the Hufflepuff mascot. It will be Saturday, July 29, at 9 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park, 1985 W. 7800 South, West Jordan.

The event will include other activities in addition to the 5K run, including live owls and snakes, a large castle playground and a rivalry Muggle Quidditch tournament between BYU and the University of Utah.

Registration for the race is available through July 27 and is $25 for in-person runners, $25 for “virtual runners” in the U.S. and $35 for international virtual runners.

Proceeds from the event will go to Intermountain Healing Hearts, an organization that provides assistance to children and families affected by congenital heart disease.

Wizard’s Train

For anyone who has ever dreamed of taking a ride on the Hogwarts Express, Heber Valley Railroad is making that possible with its Wizard’s Train.

The two-hour train ride starts off with each witch and wizard being sorted by the Sorting Hat and includes chocolate frogs, Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, butterbeer and other wizarding fun.

The Wizard’s Train will depart nightly at 7 from King’s Cross Station (aka Heber Valley Railroad Depot, 450 S. 600 West, Heber City), July 31-Aug. 4.

General admission tickets are $25.

Harry Potter Birthday Party

Salt Lake City Public Library’s main branch will have a day chock-full of wizarding fun to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday on July 31, starting at 10 a.m. and going until 8 p.m.

Spend time with some magical creatures courtesy of the Utah Pony Party Petting Zoo, taste Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, participate in a Quidditch relay, be sorted into a Hogwarts House, make a wand, eat birthday cake, learn about science magic with Clark Planetarium and more.

All events are free and open to the public.