On the weekend of Sept. 22-24, Staunton transforms into a town befit for Harry Potter fans.
Magical travels through Platform 9 3/4 are not needed to get to this world of wizardry. Just take I-66 and then head down I-81 to get to Staunton the weekend of Sept. 22-24, when the town will transform into Hogsmeade during the Queen City Mischief and Magic celebration.
All of the town’s local businesses will take part. Shops will change into Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Zonko’s Joke Shop, Magickal Menagerie and Honeydukes; restaurants will serve up butterbeer, and patrons can stroll the streets to find Diagon Alley mysteries with the help of a Marauder’s Map or the Traipse app.
Costumes are encouraged, as there are numerous selfie opportunities (like when visitors are first greeted by Norberta the Dragon), and you’ll want to fit in for the fun and excitement of the whole weekend.
Friday kicks off at 5 p.m. when visitors will be marked, just like Harry, with a lightning bolt temporary tattoo and can make their own wolfsbane. The first Quidditch game starts at 6 p.m., and tours of the Ministry of Magic (Crack the Code Escape Room) start at 6:45 p.m. and occur every half-hour. At 8 p.m. adults can partake in some wizard cabaret at the Kettle, and then at 9 p.m. everyone can test their Potter knowledge with trivia at Carkitt Market (Cranberry’s).
Saturday has a full day of events starting at 9 a.m., as Harry and Hagrid arrive via the Hogwarts Express to open the day of festivities. Throughout the day, there will be everything from a potions class and wizard dueling to all-ages potions tastings and wild beast taming. You can even discover your true Patronus. And if you stick around throughout the afternoon, starting at 1 p.m. and every subsequent half-hour, dementors attack at Azkaban (Cocoa Mill Chocolate Co.).
Sunday wraps up the time the wizarding world befalls the land of muggles with a look at New World Magischola: House Rivalry, a game designed by locally based Dylan Grey. Players hope for luck, use strategy and strike with magic as they battle other wizard students with spells.