Phoenix Rising, a Harry Potter Conference in New Orleans, May 17 – 21, 2007

As the conclusion of the Harry Potter series of books and movies nears (although Harry Potter Book 7 does not yet have a release date and J.K. Rowling is reportedly still finishing writing it, the fifth Harry Potter movie is in production and the 6th has already been given a release date), special events focusing on the Harry Potter phenomena are increasing – this includes both Harry Potter fan conferences and official Harry Potter events from the author, publishers and producers.

One of 2007’s major events will be Phoenix Rising, an academic and fan conference on the Harry Potter phenomena taking place in New Orleans, May 17 – 21. Phoenix Rising’s focus will be rebirth – a major theme of the Harry Potter series and particularly appropriate for an event set in New Orleans. Programming will cover a wide range of topics and styles – including the presentation of academic papers looking both at the text of Harry Potter and at the series as a cultural phenomena. Phoenix Rising will also have an emphasis on the arts – encompassing aspects of the Harry Potter films’s production, as well as fan activities such as fanfiction, fanart and costuming. Phoenix Rising’s home base is the Sheraton Hotel, but the conference plans to take full advantage of New Orleans with many special events and keynote presentations happening at major tourist attractions including the MusÃ?©e Conti Wax Museum and the Aquarium of the .

Several special events at Phoenix Rising are designed specifically to enhance or recreate, as best muggles can, the world of Harry Potter. A quidditch tournament will take place on May 19th at New Orleans’ Woldenberg Riverfront Park. Each night at midnight one of the four Harry Potter films will be shown and Phoenix Rising attendees who choose to participate have the option of buying a purple squishy sleeping bag (like those of the films) to enjoy the late night viewings in. Dueling is also planned in the form of a Harry Potter-themed game of Assassin. Additionally a masquerade ball will be held the night of the 20th. Many conference attendees, however, are likely to be in costume for the duration of the event, if the reports from Lumos, the recent Harry Potter conference in Las Vegas, are to be any measure. Numerous Hogwarts house, quidditch and general wizarding robes were seen, as well as those impersonating specific Harry Potter characters, from the boy himself right on through to Voldemort. Some attendees even plan multiple costumes for each day.

Registration for Phoenix Rising is currently $140, but that rate will go up as the Harry Potter conference draws nearer. Additionally, the Phoenix Rising team has secured a special discounted rate at the New Orleans’s Sheraton which is also the host hotel for the conference. Those interested in attending and presenting – whether it be their fan art or fanfiction, a Harry Potter-related workshop or an academic paper – still have time to submit proposals to the Phoenix Rising team. Full instructions on doing so are available at the Phoenix Rising website.

Finally, Phoenix Rising is a Harry Potter event geared for teens (who may attend with parental permission and an appropriate chaperone) and adults. Those who live in the New Orleans area and want to drop in on the madness for just a day also have the option of securing merely a day pass to the events.

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