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“We want Harry, we want Harry!” - March 26 - 11.36am - 2022

Celebrating 25 years of Harry Potter

It was like the faithful being called to prayer (or at least that institution currently unlicensed by the UK Gov. Department for Education…Hogwarts School).
From about a quarter of a mile away, the trail of wannabe wizards, all dressed with frightening attention to detail, wove its way towards The Sheldonian. Beside them, hands firmly clasped in theirs, were parents, mostly mums but occasional dads too, pushing what I assume were Hogwarts-inspired prams.
And right outside the hallowed hall of the theatre were… I may be wrong but I’d put money on it, Oxford University students, doubtless studying Astro-physics, jungle immunology and mathematical fractal symbiosis. The throng, thick and now pouring into the building was suddenly (and surprisingly it occurred to me) struck mute by what I sensed was a feeling of awe. And rightly so because what was billed as a celebration of 25 years of Harry Potter was that. And then some.
The ringleader so to speak of this circus of magic was the fabulous and hugely brilliant Fleur Alexander, dressed not as a Potter hero but a kind of urban wasp, which as it happens, brilliantly matched her ability to ‘buzz’ in and out of her audience soliciting cries of joy and uninhibited vociferation.
Now I don’t know the name of a single Harry Potter character - except the titular hero of course - but it really didn’t matter. Within minutes, and without any sense of 60-year old dignity, I too was growling like a lion, ‘slithering’ like a snake and burrowing like a badger, shouting “expelliarmus” (a spell in case you were wondering) and holding aloft, quite proudly, my imaginary wand.
But great as Fleur was (and she was) it was her audience that inevitably stole the show with their excitement, their joy and that most priceless commodity of childhood… wonder.
Can I have some more please?

FT Weekend Title partner BBC World Service International radio partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner University of Oxford New College Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner Marlene Hauser Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore David Isaac Carole and John Allen Lucian Hudson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Miles Young Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture George Warren Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture John Roberts Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine Exeter College Exeter College Trinity College Trinity College Worcester College Worcester College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College: Festival college partner. Eastgate Hotel Eastgate Hotel, a festival hotel The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel Critchleys Accountants to the festival Project People Foodbuy European Union Delegation of the European Union to the United Kingdom T S Eliot Foundation Alan Squire Publishing Sponsor of American novelists and poets Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Said Business School Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Floris of London City Audio Visual Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Chamberlain Evans Estate agents Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence Frescobaldi Toscana Wines of Tuscany Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Seacourt Printers Festival printers Compassion in World Farming The Wild Geese Nicholas Hunter Ltd James Currey Society Hattus Books Hattus Books La Cave Musik Pusey House Cervantes Institute, London Confucius Institute Literature Ireland

FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival sponsors, donors & partners

FT Weekend Title partner BBC World Service International radio partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner University of Oxford New College Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner Marlene Hauser Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore David Isaac Carole and John Allen Lucian Hudson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Miles Young Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture George Warren Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture John Roberts Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine Exeter College Exeter College Trinity College Trinity College Worcester College Worcester College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College: Festival college partner. Eastgate Hotel Eastgate Hotel, a festival hotel The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel Critchleys Accountants to the festival Project People Foodbuy European Union Delegation of the European Union to the United Kingdom T S Eliot Foundation Alan Squire Publishing Sponsor of American novelists and poets Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Said Business School Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Floris of London City Audio Visual Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Chamberlain Evans Estate agents Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence Frescobaldi Toscana Wines of Tuscany Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Seacourt Printers Festival printers Compassion in World Farming The Wild Geese Nicholas Hunter Ltd James Currey Society Hattus Books Hattus Books La Cave Musik Pusey House Cervantes Institute, London Confucius Institute Literature Ireland