ITHACA, N.Y. — Wizarding Weekend is back for a third year.

It has become an Ithaca tradition for the streets of Downtown Ithaca to transform into a magical wonderland just before Halloween, with Quidditch matches, life-size chess in the street, dozens of vendors and even a Magic Ball. Ithaca’s cozy Press Bay Alley becomes reminiscent of Diagon Alley, complete with a dragon peeking down at costumed crowds.

The idea for Wizarding Weekend started among vendors in Press Bay Alley. Laurence Clarkberg, of Boxy Bikes, had the idea which became a reality with organizing help from John Guttridge, of Brightworks Computer Consulting, Darlynne Overbaugh, of Life’s So Sweet Chocolates, and other Press Bay Alley shop owners. Though it was initially envisioned as a small Halloween event in Press Bay Alley, the idea that the alley would be transformed into Diagon Alley caught national attention.

The organizers kept up with the massive interest, with help from a number of local sources to accommodate the huge crowds. Between 8,000 and 15,000 were estimated to have attended the first Wizarding Weekend.

Related: The origin of Ithaca’s Wizarding Weekend

Overbaugh, an organizer, said they have tried to curate the festival in a way to highlight “the natural magic that’s here year-round in the Ithaca community.”

There could be crowds of up to 10,000 people per day. This year, the festival will stretch over two full days, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Volunteers are still needed for the event. Anyone interested in volunteering can visit this page.

This year there is an app for Wizarding Weekend. Download the app Goose Chase and search for Wizarding Weekend. From there, you can select a team and join a game.

Another new aspect to Wizarding Weekend is that proceeds from the event will benefit the Blue Sky Center for Learning.

Here are a few events not to miss this weekend.

1 — Stupefy! Hone your wand skills and get ready to duel

From 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, there will be Dumbledore’s Army Training. Kids, teens and adults can practice their wand-handling techniques and work up to wizarding duels. Wizard duels typically take place throughout the festival.

In addition to wand skills, there will be educational events all weekend at the Tompkins County Public Library. There will be classes on fairy folklore, Herbology, tarot divinations, atronomy, charms, astrology and paranormal investigations. Check out the event page for a list of all classes and times.

While in the library, keep an eye out for the “Restricted Section.”

File photo of Wizarding Weekend. Alyvia Covert/Ithaca Voice

2 — Dance at the Magic Ball ($$)

There will be music, costume contests, special effects, treats and raffles at the City of Magic Ball on Friday. And Ithaca’s most famous local ghost, Edward Rulloff, will be hosting a cash bar.

The event begins at 7 p.m. and goes until midnight at the Community School of Music and Arts. Dress attire is “Muggle fancy,” Wizarding attire” or some combination of both. “Think prom but way cooler because (it’s) magical and you get to use your imagination. Creativity is encouraged!” the event page says.

Witches, wizards and Muggles who want to attend must purchase a $30 non-refundable ticket. (Available here.)

3 — Quidditch!

There are no flying broomsticks for us Muggles, but electric bikes with broomsticks are a fun substitute. Watch teams face off all day Saturday and Sunday at the Quidditch Pitch behind Press Bay Alley. Matches will be going on from 10:15 a.m. every hour until about 4:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Stop by to see Dumbledore’s Army versus the Death Eaters or Ithaca Hex versus Cornell Quidditch.

File photo of Quidditch on electric bikes.

4 — Magical music all weekend

Music from a wide variety of groups will serve as the backdrop for the festival on the Bernie Milton Pavilion Stage in Bank Alley on the Ithaca Commons. There are some Harry Potter-themed bands like Brian of Draco and the Malfoys and the Whomping Willows and a number of local artists.

On Saturday:

  • 10 a.m. – Zajal the Sugar Plum Fairy and Friends
  • 11 a.m. – LilySilly Puppets
  • Noon – New Roots Steel Drum Ensemble
  • 1 p.m. – Hawthorn and Holly
  • 2 p.m. – Brian of Draco and the Malfoys
  • 3 p.m. – Lauren Fairweather
  • 4 p.m. – The Whomping Willows

On Sunday:

  • 10 a.m. – Snidget
  • 11 a.m. – IC Voicestream
  • noon – Yamati Drumming
  • 1 p.m. – Ashley Trix and the Wizrds
  • 2 p.m. – Errand of Mercy
  • 3 p.m. – Local Songwriters Set
  • 4 p.m. – The NEO Project

There is also a “Magical Music of Harry Potter” concert by the Binghamton Philharmonic at 7 p.m. Saturday at the State Theatre of Ithaca. For ticket information, go here.

Provided Photo.

5 — Dust off your best wizard robes

Can you pull off a convincing Bellatrix Lestrange, Rita Skeeter or maybe Mad-Eye Moody? There is no shortage of convincing characters who wander the crowds. Costumes are encouraged, plus there will be a grown-up costume fashion show at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on Cayuga Street near the Ithaca Commons. And don’t forget the kids costume fashion show, which will take place at 11:30 a.m. in the same place.

Jeff Lower/Provided Photo

6 — Magicians, jugglers and circus acts! Don’t miss the great lineup of street performances

On Saturday at the Cayuga Street Performance Circle:

  • 10:30 a.m. – Circus Culture
  • 11:30 a.m. – Kyle Marlet, Magician
  • 12:30 p.m. – Christopher Strange, Witch Doctor
  • 1:30 p.m. – Hilby the Skinny German Juggle Boy
  • 2:30 p.m. – Grown Up Costume Fashion Show
  • 3:30 p.m. – Fall Creek Brass Band

On Sunday at the same place:

  • 10:30 a.m. – Kyle Marlet, Magician
  • 11:30 a.m. – Kids Costume Fashion Show
  • 12:30 p.m. – Christopher Strange, Witch Doctor
  • 1:30 p.m. – Hilby the Skinny German Juggle Boy
  • 2:30 p.m. – Circus Culture
  • 3:30 p.m. – Fall Creek Brass Band

There will also be life-size Wizard Chess matches at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Jeff Lower/Provided Photo

7 — Discover the door to GorgeKeep

Discover what has been hidden for years, the door to GorgeKeep, Ithaca’s imaginative school of magic. As part of the Magical Artifact Hunt, participants will get a clue map and hunt for the five keys that will unlock the door to GorgeKeep. All participants who complete the hunt will receive a prize and be entered to win the grand prize — two tickets to see the off-Broadway hit, “Puffs the Play.” The grand prize includes hotel and transportation. There is a $6 fee. The magical passport is accepted.

File Photo

Featured image provided by Jeff Lower.

Visit the official Wizarding Weekend page for more details.

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.