Calgary Harry Potter fans will have no Diagon Alley

Wands down in Kensington this July

calgary Harry Potter festival
A few of the items for sale at the 2017 Calgary Harry Potter day.

Most Harry Potter fans are familiar with the crushing disappointment that comes with turning 11 and not receiving their Hogwarts acceptance letter.

Calgary fans might feel a similar disappointment when they hear Kensington’s Harry Potter day won’t be returning in 2019. Not even the Fantasy Faire will be back.

After the wildly successful Harry Potter street festivals in 2016 and 2017 the Kensington Business Revitalization Zone was forced to rebrand the event in 2018. According to Annie MacInnis, the Executive Director of the Kensington BRZ, a cease and desist was issued to all Harry Potter-themed events, globally.

Kensington was fully transformed to give shoppers a true Harry Potter experience in 2017. Annie MacInnis said the BRZ learnt from the 2016 overwhelmingly popular event and were better prepared in 2017. CHELSEY MUTTER / LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Potter parties could still take place, but only if party throwers were willing to pay a licensing fee.

“We didn’t even look into it, we assumed it would be more than we could afford,” said MacInnis.

“It’s [the event] expensive and a big financial risk for the BRZ to begin with.”

For the 2017 event, the City of Calgary issued special train tickets so would-be wizards and witches could feel like they were aboard the Hogwarts Express. Streets were closed, police were on site, banners were put up. All of this, said MacInnis, was paid for by the Kensington BRZ, with those funds coming from a levy that Kensington shops pay.

Shoppers were excited to arrive at King’s Cross Station for a Harry Potter-themed event in 2017. CHELSEY MUTTER / LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Happy death day to the Harry Potter summer street festival

MacInnis said the magic and fantasy festival the BRZ tried to put on wasn’t nearly as popular as the Harry Potter event. Perhaps disappointment that it wasn’t Harry Potter themed, she said.

The BRZ wasn’t able to put their finger, or their wand, on why people didn’t show up. So, instead of spending their funds on an unpopular event, MacInnis said, they chose to Avada Kedavra the event: Stop the festival altogether.

“In this economic climate, is that the best way to support our businesses, or are there other ways?” asked MacInnis.  

“Yeah [businesses have been hurt], this economy, the minimum wage. Increasing the tax shift has been quite significant.”

The funds that would’ve have put on the festival are being spent in on other events, like the Kensington Christmas Market.

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