Diehard 'Harry' fans set to queue and party overnight
The spellbinding world of Harry Potter will be reopened to young and old fans this weekend as the boy wizard reaches a new chapter in his life.
Bookstores in Ireland and worldwide are preparing for the eighth episode of JK Rowling's magical series, which will be officially released at noon on Sunday.
Fans are set to queue from late Saturday night at stores planning midnight openings complete with broomsticks, butterbeer and sorting hats.
Published by Little Brown Book Group, the new release, 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 and 2', is set 19 years after the events of the last novel, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows', which was released in 2007.
But the popularity of the older books has endured, according to Irish booksellers taking part in the weekend's activities.
Hodges Figgis on Dublin's Dawson Street opens at 10pm (on Saturday) in anticipation of the 'Cursed Child' release.
"In the two-hour period before the book goes on sale, we are hosting a party to celebrate the launch," said manager Tony Hayes. "We will have quidditch practice, owl racing, fortune telling and prizes. There has been a huge demand for the book, if not more than the demand for the last book."
Mr Hayes added that sales of the first instalment, 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone', had risen since the announcement of the new story.
The manager of Bridge Street Books in Wicklow, Joanna Hamilton, anticipates there will be "a good buzz" at the store's midnight opening.
"There are a lot of die-hard Harry Potter fans who have been to all the midnight openings," she said. "There are people in their 20s and 30s who read the books as children and then kids who have not had the opportunity to come to a midnight opening before.
"We have seen an upsurge in interest of the books recently, especially the first three."
Stores which are unable to open at the witching hour are still planning to get involved, including Charlie Byrne's Bookshop in Galway.
Ruth Corcoran, children's section manager, will do a reading of the earlier books on Saturday afternoon, while children will be sorted into their houses for Hogwarts. Prizes will be given to best-dressed on the day.
"It's hard to predict how this one will go down because it's a script, but there is always an interest in Harry Potter," she said. "We have a book club for nine to 11-year-olds and they are all obsessed with it. We even had a Harry Potter Christmas party."
Easons and Dubray bookstores will not be holding midnight openings but have reported significant interest in pre-orders.