‘Up to no good’ at Grand Arcade, Cambridge’s Harry Potter Themed Event…

On the 30th and 31st October 2021, Big Foot Events were ‘up to no good’ at Grand Arcade shopping centre in Cambridge creating a spellbinding Harry Potter Themed Event: ‘Grand Arcade and the Trail of Witchcraft and Wizardry’…

The Brief

We had previously created a Harry Potter themed event for Grand Arcade in October 2020 and, despite restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was a terrific success! We were delighted to be invited to return and create an even bigger and better event for 2021.

Our 2020 event with Grand Arcade included our Sorting Hat Installation and Dumbledore Lookalike Performer, and it was fantastic to be able to invite more of the Hogwarts ensemble to the shopping centre for 2021!

The client wanted to ensure that the event would draw in new and returning shoppers and include some more of the best themed entertainment options we have to offer.

The Challenges

With fewer social distancing restrictions in place,

and a bigger event programme planned, Grand Arcade anticipated more attendees upon the previous year’s shoppers.

There were concerns about capacity and we estimated 60 visitors per session, so each shopper would have a limited amount of character interaction. While this was possible, it would require regulating to avoid any disappointment, and we ensured that guests were kept entertained in the queue and could make the most of the character interaction.  

With large crowds and long queues projected, we advised our performers to expect a high volume of people and asked them to entertain queues and passers-by.

The Solutions

We created a plan to keep shoppers happy and entertained while waiting in queues. To ensure that no one in the queue grew restless, one of our character performers, Hagrid, kept people waiting in line entertained with meet and greet interactions.

To help manage numbers, our event programme was split over the course of a weekend with exciting activities planned for both days. This decision also encouraged repeat footfall: even if shoppers had completed the trail on Saturday, they would be encouraged to return and meet different Lookalike characters and participate in different activities on the following day.

The Results

We created a magical Harry Potter experience at Grand Arcade with Lookalike Character Performers and a Sorting Hat installation. Alongside our fantastic performers, shoppers were invited to take part in a Themed Trail. The trail map, designed in the style of the ‘Marauder’s Map’ from the Harry Potter franchise, could be completed in order to gain the title of ‘Master of Witchcraft and Wizardry’ and receive a free chocolate treat. Shoppers could collect themed stickers such as ‘Snowy Owl’, ‘Magic Wand’, ‘Potions’, ‘Broomstick’, and ‘Spell Book’ from corresponding colour-coded shops around Grand Arcade. This encouraged participants to visit different locations around the shopping centre and was a constructive collaboration with shops.

On Saturday 30th October, visitors were invited to meet some of our charming Harry Potter Lookalikes – Dumbledore and Hagrid. Our Dumbledore performer hosted a Sorting Hat animated prop where children could pose for a photo opportunity and be sorted into their ‘Hogwarts house’. Hagrid roamed the shopping centre encouraging shoppers to visit the installation and participate in the trail.

On Sunday 31st, shoppers could pose for flying broomstick photos with our Hermione Lookalike and meet and greet Harry Potter and Professor McGonagall Lookalikes.

Client Testimonial

We received fantastic verbal feedback from the client. They were delighted with the event and its reception from shoppers. The client was thrilled with how we managed the volume of people and our performers’ crowd interaction and queue management. They praised our Hagrid performer’s charisma and ability to keep people entertained while they waited.

Grand Arcade received fantastic feedback from shoppers on social media, with many visitors sharing their photos with our Lookalike performers and Sorting Hat installation. Ambika Rana-Beadle commented ‘What a brilliant idea! I thoroughly enjoyed watching Dumbledore with the Sorting Hat and, of course, Hagrid who managed the queue – they were fantastic’, and Sarah Parker shared that she visited with her children who ‘thoroughly enjoyed collecting the stickers and receiving their treat’.

The event was a great success for the second year running, and Grand Arcade have rebooked for an even bigger Harry Potter themed event for 2022!

We are excited to return to Grand Arcade later this year for another enchanting Harry Potter Event!