Bringing the Magic to Brussels… for the Second Time!
by Sacha Huynen
In July of this year, Harry Potter: The Exhibition touched down in Brussels with record-breaking sales! James and Oliver Phelps were present to officially open it, and Potterheads all over Belgium were bubbling with enthusiasm. The Belgian Harry Potter community has always been extremely welcoming and massively gracious toward anything related to our beloved magical world. This enthusiasm resulted in the Exhibition’s stay being extended not once, but twice.
This second time around, the Exhibition got a minor upgrade: With the Ford Anglia, the knight chess piece, and a display of the brand new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie, the collection was slightly expanded. The interior was also decorated for Christmas with Christmas trees, wreaths, and (fake) snow.
James Phelps returned to Brussels for this special occasion, to open the Exhibition a second time, and on behalf of MuggleNet, I had the amazing opportunity to get a sneak peek the day before the official re-opening.
Upon entering, we were greeted by the Ford Anglia, ready to bring us to our next destination: the Sorting Hat. Luckily for me, the Sorting Hat had not yet changed its mind after Sorting me into Gryffindor on Pottermore and re-Sorted me in the same House.
The first prop that we saw was the Hogwarts Express, after which a room full of magic opens up. Paintings, some of them even moving, welcomed us in. In a dark corner, I spotted a painting of Newt Scamander, which was obviously welcomed with a lot of excitement. The props are sorted per location: the Gryffindor common room, the boys’ dormitory, Umbridge’s office, the greenhouses, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, you name it.
About halfway through the Exhibition, you find a room full of Quidditch props, including three hoops and some Quaffle balls, and so we could all experience the feeling of being a true Chaser. James Phelps met us here and challenged us to a one-on-one Chasing match. Truth be told, he could use some Chasing practice, but of course, we all know he is a Beater, so he was forgiven.
We moved on toward Hagrid’s hut, where we could try out his chair for ourselves. Further on, we encountered some creatures from the Forbidden Forest, got immersed by the Dark Arts, and walked through the Great Hall.
It was a truly magical experience, being surrounded by the world we all love so much. However, our time was limited, because James Phelps was waiting on a Q&A session with Newsmonkey that we all got to attend.
Some fun facts: If he could have played any other role in the movies, he would have liked to play Dobby. He is also quite the prankster. If he could, he would like to sneak some Polyjuice Potion with an animal’s hair in it to his brother, which seems a bit cruel, considering we all know what trying to change into an animal using Polyjuice does to you. But probably the most shocking thing he told us was that Rowling gave him one bit of information about the Weasley family that she never told anybody else. And the secret is safe with him since he refused to tell us precisely what she told him. All he said was that it is about where the Weasleys come from. Mysterious, isn’t it?
One more thing: According to James, all the important props are present at the Exhibition. When asked which prop he would have liked to have added, he couldn’t think of any. So for anyone considering a visit, if this doesn’t convince you to come experience the magic, I don’t know what will.