The Witching Hour

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Name: The Witching Hour
Dates: October 6-10, 2005
Location: Salem, Massachusetts, United States
Type: fan con
Focus: Harry Potter
Organization: HP Education Fanon, Inc.
Founding Date:
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The Witching Hour was a fan-run Harry Potter "symposium" that was held in Salem, Massachusetts, from October 6 to October 10, 2005.[1] It was run by HP Education Fanon, Inc.

Lead Event Planners: Emily Balawejder, Amy Tenbrink, and Hallie Tibbets

Special Guests & Keynote Speakers:

Dr. Marleen S. Barr, Holly Black, Charles N. Brown, Dr. John Cech, Vicky Dann, Ellen Datlow, Charles de Lint, Dr. Eliza T. Dresang, Nancy Farmer, Dr. Henry Jenkins, Patricia McKillip, Sharyn November, Tamora Pierce


Part of a Series

See Harry Potter Symposiums.


In the darkest hour of the night, where fair is foul and foul is fair, there is no good or evil.

"The focus — or spirit, if you will — of The Witching Hour is an exploration of the darkness within each of us, the choices that may turn our paths and the moral ambiguity that confounds us."[2]

Two Years in the Planning: Its 2003 Announcement

A press release from HPANA:

The Witching Hour, the follow-up to the successful HP Education Fanon, Inc. (HPEF) -sponsored Nimbus – 2003: A Harry Potter Symposium, will commence on October 6, 2005 in Salem, Massachusetts.

"We chose a place where our attendees could reflect on the recurring themes of ambiguity, choice, darkness, and tolerance as expressed in the Harry Potter books, "says Amy Tenbrink, one of the three lead event planners for The Witching Hour team. "Salem is a progressive town that has embraced a controversial past, and has drawn strength from it."

Indeed, as J.K. Rowling has said, "I knew [the books] would get darker. The story is about a world that's getting darker."

Programming includes a full slate of academic presentations, panels and workshops, as well as Quidditch, music, and a fall festival event. Conference organizers, whose professional lives correspond with the roles they are undertaking for The Witching Hour, are projecting hundreds of attendees, as well as many additional visitors to the related installations and exhibitions around town.

Public Relations Chair Dionne Williford is optimistic about the event. "There was a tremendous amount of interest generated by Nimbus – 2003, and we're certain that once people see what an outstanding conference we have planned, they'll decide to come learn with us, play with us, and stay for a spell."

HPEF is a non-profit organization whose primary mission is to provide educational symposia on J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels for fans, as well as scholars of the novels. HPEF's first event, Nimbus – 2003, took place in Orlando, Florida July 17 - 20, 2003; six hundred attendees enjoyed presentations by over eighty speakers, including Judith Krug, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association.

For further information, please visit The Witching Hour's yahoogroup at or its soon-to-be-up website at (mirrored at

This symposium is an unofficial event, and is not endorsed by Warner Bros., the Harry Potter book publishers or J.K. Rowling and her representatives. [3] [4] [5]

A 2004 Announcement

On March 8, 2004, The Witching Hour (the next official event from HP Education Fanon, Inc., who brought you Nimbus - 2003) officially threw open the oak doors, found the old Sorting Hat and declared the school year begun. Head on over to to find information ranging from travel and hotel arrangments [sic] to a brief and overview of Salem itself. Make sure you check out the Merchandise and Downloads sections for links to the official Witching Hour Store and fun icons, avatars and wallpaper images.

The Witching Hour also has already confirmed the attendance at the symposium of three special guests. New York Times bestselling author Holly Black will be presenting as part of two panels, one on writing and one on treatments of morality in young adult fantasy literature. Noted academic, including of the fandom phenonmenon [sic], Henry Jenkins, a professor at the Massaschusetts [sic] Institute of Technology, will be presenting a keynote luncheon on Harry Potter and the Media. Finally, New York University's Tisch Film School professor and published author Vicky Dann will join us for a panel discussing the evolution of female characters in fantasy genres. We expect to add names to this list as more special guests confirm their attendance.

Check the Special Guests page on the website for more information on these and future special guests at The Witching Hour.

The Witching Hour is also happy to announce sponsored Line Parties and Events for the opening of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

The Witching Hour is organizing and sponsoring line parties - in other words, groups of friends and strangers who share a fascination with Harry Potter and wish to get together in the line for the movie. If you are interested in hosting or co-hosting such a line party, please contact Dionne Williford, our Chair of Public Relations and Marketing, at dionne@.... [6]


Programming incorporated the usual convention fare, but was tailored for a Harry Potter aesthetic. For example, all attendees were sorted into Hogwarts Houses, and points were awarded or deducted throughout the convention.


A website was created for the convention, but has since been taken offline: (retrieved from the WayBack Machine)

LiveJournal Communities

As of October 10, 2008, most of these communities are no longer active:


YouTube videos of the leaving feast

Mud and Blood and Quidditch in October. NPR piece on the Quidditch tournament (contains text, audio, images)


back cover of convention program. art by glockgal.
front cover of convention program. art by glockgal.
convention t-shirt, front
convention t-shirt, back


  1. ^ The Witching Hour. Available at The Internet Archive. (Accessed October 10, 2008)
  2. ^ Theme. The Witching Hour [website]. Available at The Internet Archive. (Accessed October 10, 2008)
  3. ^ Heidi8: The Witching Hour: A Harry Potter Symposium, November 25, 2003
  4. ^ This press release is also here: Beyond Hogwarts, November 26, 2003
  5. ^ Note: some of the symposium's volunteers named here were not the volunteers listed in a later update: See Conference Organizers
  6. ^ 828 The Witching Hour's Site Launch, March 8, 2004