Which Harry Potter Party Should You Attend?

Harry Potter fans line up outside Books of Wonder in 2005. Photo: AP Photo/Tina Fineberg

Years from now, when you're drinking tea in front of a roaring fire, and your grandchildren take a break from their BrainWiiSexPods to ask, "Grandparent, where were you when the final Harry Potter book was published?" don't be forced to answer, "At home, watching SportsCenter." The city's bookstores and libraries are celebrating the release of Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows with parties for wizard fans young and old. Which one is right for you?

The mob scene: If you're a scenester who only wants to hit the biggest party in town, head to the Union Square Barnes & Noble, where audiobook celebrity Jim Dale will host the store's Midnight Madness countdown. B&N expects upwards of 5,000 attendees, so get there early.

The cozy salon: Books of Wonder, the lovely children's-book specialty store on 18th Street, is hosting magicians, face painters, and even real live owls, as well as giving out Harry Potter posters — and tickets to Harry Potter illustrator Mary GrandPre's signing the next day.

The cheap day out: If you want to celebrate Harry Potter but don't like spending money or actually reading the book, bring your kids to the New York Public Library on West 53rd Street for a magic show, live owls, and a chance to try on the Sorting Hat and learn which house you're in.

The uptown event: Do you prefer your wizards with a bit of color? Do you love Kingsley Shacklebolt? Stop by Harlem's Hue-Man Bookstore, one of the city's finest specialty bookshops for writers of color, for their Harry Potter party. Attendance is limited to 50, so sign up early.

The party for grown-ups: Nolita's McNally Robinson Bookstore is hosting a Harry Potter party for those wizards who have already passed their Apparition tests. A D.J. will spin and "magical punch" will be served.

The anti-party: The St. Mark's Bookshop would like to remind you that they'll be open at midnight as usual and would be happy to sell you a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. "Embrace the cultural moment!" they say. "Avoid face-painting and cauldrons of dry ice!"