'Harry Potter' screenings break Durham Book Festival records

'Harry Potter' screenings break Durham Book Festival records

Ticket sales for three screenings of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" at Durham Cathedral have broken all of the city’s book festival records with 1,500 selling in one day.

Two film showings are taking place on 6th and one on 7th of October as part of the partnership between the cathedral and Durham Book Festival, which runs from 7th to 15th October and also features Roddy Doyle, Alan Hollinghurst and and poet Andrew McMillan. Other speakers include “Peep Show” actor Robert Webb discussing his memoir, How Not to be a Boy (Canongate) on 10th October and Kamila Shamsie talking about her Sophocles-inspired Home Fire (Bloomsbury) with Tracy Chevalier at Durham Town Hall on 15th October.

The cathedral, which dates from 1093, was used as a filming location for the first two in the Harry Potter franchise so should be a “very special location” for the screenings according to the festival’s senior programme manager Rebecca Wilkie. 

She told The Bookseller that the rate at which the event sold out on Monday (21st August) was “definitely a record” in the festival's history, which is run by regional writing development agency New Writing North. She revealed that audiences had grown by around 90% since it was first produced by the agency in 2011 and that it is hoped more visitors will attend “than ever before”.

Wilkie said: “We are delighted that our screenings of 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone' at the cathedral broke Durham Book Festival's box office records this year with all 1,500 tickets [costing between £13 and £16] selling in only 12 hours.

“Durham Cathedral is a regular partner in the book festival, so it made sense for us to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter, in this iconic building, which served as a filming location for the first two instalments of the series.

“We hope that this year’s Durham Book Festival, which takes place between 7th and 15th October, will see more people attending than ever before. Since New Writing North began producing the festival in 2011, audiences have grown by nearly 90% and in 2016 we engaged with over 21,000 people.”

The first instalment in J K Rowling’s wizarding series celebrated its 20th anniversary on 26th June this year with the publishing world and bookshops around the country running a raft of events and promotions. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Bloomsbury) was adapted for film by Warner Bros in 2001.

For more information, visit durhambookfestival.com.