Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wizards Swoop in to City Book Shop

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wizards Swoop in to City Book Shop

Article excerpt

Byline: Barbara Hodgson Reporter

HARRY Potter fans got to meet "Hedwig" the owl, drink butterbeer and enjoy an indoor game of quidditch during a night of magic.

Wizards of all ages dressed to impress for a special late-night opening of the Newcastle branch of Waterstones joined bookshops across the world in hosting a Night of Spells.

Held in celebration of Harry Potter Book Night, it marked the second event of its kind following the success of last year which featured 10,500 international parties.

And this time there were even more treats in store for North East families.

"We went crazy!" said Sharron O'Reilly, self-confessed Potter fan and lead bookseller at Waterstones Newcastle where all staff donned round spectacles and cloaks to enter into the spirit of the occasion.

And there were activities on all four floors of the store, from sparkly face painting, which included the all-important Harry Potter scar; to themed bingo and even "owl" exams.

And a real star attraction was a real snowy owl, a 10-year-old "she" who was playing the role of Hedwig for the evening and posing for photographs. "She does Harry Potter events all over the country," said her handler Mark French from Northumberland-based Falconry Days. She was a favourite with seven-year-old Abigael Neale, seven, who said: "I don't know how they got an owl that looks exactly like Hedwig."

Her mam Lisa, a theatre nurse at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Gateshead, had heard about the event while at work and she and book-lover Abigael, who had her cloak and wand with her, had packed in lots of activities.

The pair were enjoying a break on the top floor to watch Harry Potter film The Prisoner of Azkaban, which Waterstones was granted a special licence to screen. Sharron added: "The first year we kept this event in the basement but we found people were desperate for a Harry Potter experience up in Newcastle so this year we decided to have something on every floor. …

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