Hubble Bubble: Harry Potter at Leeds Central Library
Words by Lauren Entwistle
Lumos! Expelliarmus! Sectumsempra!
Leeds is literally coming alive with magic over the next month, to celebrate 20 years of spells and sorcery since the publication of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone – the book that shot JK Rowling to stardom and birthed one of the most successful franchises ever. But Leeds Central Library wants to bring a little of that myth and mystery to Leeds In partnership with the British Library.
Leeds Central Library will be capturing the traditions of folklore and magic at the heart of the Harry Potter stories, delving deep into their archives to bring you a display of magical treasures and tales from your local area. From quizzes to talks to magical workshops, we’ve got the lowdown on what’s on – and even sorted them for you into your Hogwarts classes.
History of Magic
Although the HP books call this class the most boring subject to be devised by wizard-kind, especially when taught by ghostly droning Professor Binns – Leeds is breathing some spark back into the dreary subject.
On the 23rd of November from 7pm, join a live screening of “The Harry Potter Effect” in Room 700 – broadcasted all the way from the British Library in London. 20 years on, journalist Nicolette Jones, author Katherine Rundell, Publishing Director of Children’s Books at Bloomsbury Rebecca McNally and social commentator Shami Chakrabati discuss the Harry Potter effect – on both literature and our cultural consciousness. Don’t be late, but make sure to book your tickets for this one here.
Now on to what is probably as close to the real “History of Magic” as we can get.
From the 3rd December until the 29th of January, this magical exhibition will include rare books on witchcraft, fantastic beasts and the dark arts that would not look out of place in a Hogwarts classroom. There will also be a series of events for all ages to bring the world of Harry Potter to life, including a Herbology Classroom until the 2nd of January – but we’ll get to that one in a bit!
To celebrate the grand opening of the exhibition in Room 700 from 11am-3pm on the 3rd of December, this section of the library will be transformed into Diagon Alley. Nosy around stalls selling all kinds of magical wares. Have your fortune told by a student of Professor Trelawney’s. Visit the Herbology Room, a space filled with botanical illustrations and extraordinary plants inspired by the magical plant studies of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter stories. See the historic books full of witches, fantastic beasts and the supernatural.
You don’t have to book for this (or even show your Hogwarts Acceptance Letter) – so come down and make sure you’ve got everything before the new term starts up!
Professor Sprout has really spoiled us with this one, putting on a whole host of activities centered around magical herbs and plants. Part of Room 700 has been transfigured into “The Herbology Room” – a space filled with botanical illustrations and extraordinary plants inspired by the magical plant studies of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter stories all in the heart of Leeds Central Library.
As part of their collaboration with The British Library exhibition, The Plant Room will also be curating a collection of workshops and talks that will take place in the Herbology Room. These include; a closed terrarium workshop, bookbinding, talks, wreath making, charms and smudge sticks, storytelling and life drawing across the next month – perfect to practise your magic on.
These herbology sessions are running from the 3rd of December to the 2nd of January, so make sure to mark your calendars and check what’s on when here.
Defence Against the Dark Arts
Once again streaming live from the British Library in London, Cultural historian Christopher Frayling explores the history and myths surrounding these bloodsucking fiends over the centuries and gives a lesson on how the various methods of protecting ourselves. Come in on the 22nd of January from 6:15pm to learn all about how to spot and defend yourself against demons: how has their appearance changed? What are their weaknesses? And how have they been appropriated by the Gothic imagination?
They are also welcoming Jonathan Ferguson, Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries in Leeds to talk about the real life ‘vampire killing kit’ that they hold in their collections, before the screening begins. Jonathan has a particular interest in the folklore and mythology of arms and armour as well as popular culture and the supernatural.
This event will take place in the atmospheric Local and Family History Library on the 2nd floor.
Of course, Hogwarts also has a huge interest in teaching about “our ways”, which means learning about computers, the muggle transport system and even asking the essential question: “what exactly is the function of a rubber duck?”
On the 19th December from 2pm to 3:30pm, children aged 8+ and their adults can come and code a Microbit computer and whizz up their own electronic Sorting Hat.
You can also create your very own magical characters and bring them to life in your very own Hogwarts platform game on the same day from 10:30pm. Design your own levels, ‘power ups’ and enemies using the Bloxels app and game board then see who can beat your creation – just bring your own device or use one of the library’s.
For the full list of what’s on and an itinerary, click here. Who said Leeds was just for Muggles?