Leviosa Fan Convention in Vegas a Strong Success!
A lot of fun was had this past weekend at the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, Nevada, where first-time convention Leviosa debuted to an audience of nearly 700 Harry Potter fans. MuggleNet had the pleasure of attending Leviosa and hosted a handful of events during the con’s four-day run. What follows is a summary of events as well as reactions from our attending staff, who were a mix of con-goers old and new!
Leviosa was an amazing experience that let me dive deeper into the Potter world and explore how it interacts with the ideals and aspects of literature.” – Savannah (Social Media – Instagram)
Leviosa was the brainchild of many passionate Potter fans who have occupied key roles in conventions prior: convention director Sarai Phillips held roles at Infinitus 2010, Ascendio 2012, and MISTI-Con 2013; marketing director Alexa Donne co-chaired formal programming at Azkatraz in 2009 and ran the literature track at Ascendio in 2012; Jodie Vann, head of Academic Programming for Leviosa, previously chaired Informal Programming at both Azkatraz and Infinitus. The convention experience held by all of Leviosa’s staff (and many of its volunteers) no doubt led directly to the success of this engrossing weekend of Potter excitement and academia, as well as added a nostalgic feel for events that had come before.
While recent Harry Potter conventions have found homes in Laconia, New Hampshire, and Orlando, Florida, Leviosa situated itself in Las Vegas, Nevada… the same city as Lumos, a convention held by Harry Potter Education Fanon (HPEF) exactly ten years ago this month. And Leviosa was, in many ways, a return to the roots of Harry Potter fan conventions – harking back to the days where academic programming and fan fiction workshops and panels were held in higher favor than more robust guest lists. Imagination, Creativity and Education, Inc. – the organization behind Leviosa – was smart to take elements from both styles of fan conventions and merge them.
It was my first Harry Potter convention! I feel like Leviosa was a really good choice for a first con because it was so welcoming. The panels were much better than I was expecting (coming from experience with many anime cons), and it was just overall an A++.” – Ashley M. (Creative Team)
The programming at Leviosa was diverse and deep, featuring different tracks attendees could follow according to their interests. The academic track featured thorough discussion on Harry’s world, including some impressively fresh takes on the characters and series. Besides the academic track, Leviosa featured a creativity track, fandom track, slash and queer lit track, YA literature track, and writing track. The creativity track at Leviosa included crafting workshops that had event attendees creating everything from paper wands to bath bombs, while the writing track gave aspiring authors the chance to hone their skills and prepare for publication.
I attended several panels and a workshop about querying and publishing a book with the literary agent guests talking about everything you need to know to get started in the publishing world. It was amazingly informative, and it was an invaluable experience at a much lower price than one might find for a writing conference.” – Bella (Creative Team intern)
Friday’s keynote luncheon was a panel discussion on the morality and ethics contained in the Potter series and how the presence of various ethical codes bleeds into a real-world setting. The panel was chaired by Janae Phillips, chapters director of the Harry Potter Alliance; Morgan Howard, Harvard University graduate; Eric Scull, MuggleNet senior contributing editor; and Chris Rankin, producer, fandom scholar, and actor from the Harry Potter film series (Percy Weasley) and was moderated by Jodie Vann. During the discussion, new opinions on Draco Malfoy were formed, and Mr. Rankin was called on to defend Percy’s actions, an opportunity that he relished.
The presence of Mr. Rankin was, to many, a highlight of Leviosa for, while it was nearly his sixth convention appearance, the relaxed setting and welcoming atmosphere allowed his generosity toward Harry Potter fans to flourish. Chris not only participated in the usual set of Q&As and signings but also on Friday hosted three hours of karaoke during “Karaoke Night.” Chris spontaneously duet-ed with many convention attendees, including fan-favorite Vladimir Snape. Together, their performance of Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me Baby” launched a ship that we did not know we needed in the world. (Snercy? Chrape?)
I will never forget singing and dancing [to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’] with a room full of Potterheads.” – Madison (Creative Team)
Karaoke on Friday took place immediately following “MuggleNet’s GNOMEs Pub Style Trivia,” where groups of six competed in six rounds of difficult questions sourced mainly from the Potter book series and, to lesser extent, on Pottermore. The prizes included HP Clue, Potter Funko figures, and stationery products from MinaLima. Nearly every team was properly stumped at least a couple of times!
On Saturday, members of MuggleNet’s Alohomora! podcast discussed the increasing commercialization of Harry Potter to a captive audience, and on Sunday members of our Creative Team held a very well-received round table discussion on the boundaries of canon.
Hosting the convention at Green Valley Ranch Hotel & Spa was an inspired decision for the Leviosa staff to make. Site Logistics Chair Betz Stump found an environment that perfectly encapsulated the grandiose yet inviting-to-all mood that the convention was attempting to embody. Convention staples such as the Common Room were welcomed by all as a place to catch one’s breath, and an intimate vendor room across the hall that hosted such cool shops as Midnight House Elves, House Wormwood, and Dryad Tea were sure to take one’s breath right back away again.
The more intimate setting made this con so much more enjoyable than the one I previously attended because the sense of community made me feel like I had really found a place to belong, with people just as passionate about Potter as I am.” – Bella (Creative Team intern)
Another notable aspect of Leviosa was the re-emergence of catered food to the convention hall. From the scrumptious Welcome Feast on Thursday night to the Keynote luncheons on Friday and Saturday, and once more at the Leaving Feast brunch on Sunday afternoon, convention guests could enjoy socializing and taking in a variety of content while eating banquet-style meals, which can be difficult (logistically) for a convention, especially a new one, to provide. No half-steps were taken, and no expenses were spared, it would seem, in producing a convention experience that was fully magical.
Of course, the biggest consensus of the weekend is that the Harry Potter fandom continues to thrive.
Being around such a large group of people who love Harry Potter just as much as I do was incredible.” – Madison (Creative Team)
Whether it was with old friends or new ones, the weekend was filled with opportunities to interact with fans from many different locations and backgrounds, bonding over one commonality: our enduring love for the Boy Who Lived.