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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 July 2005, 03:45 GMT 04:45 UK
Potter magic at Edinburgh Castle
By Julie Broadfoot
BBC News

George Moore and JK Rowling

As bookstores everywhere hope to cash in on latest Harry Potter book, the Half-Blood Prince, with gimmicks and midnight openings, author JK Rowling's home town had the biggest spell up its sleeve.

Edinburgh Castle was transformed into fictional magic academy Hogwarts for the night, decorated with flame torches and a massive projection of the book's cover on the outside wall.

Ghoulish ghosts, clowns riding dragons and fire jugglers provided entertainment for 2,000 local schoolchildren and their families who had won entry to the castle esplanade, no doubt giving up their precious places in a book store queue.

Potter fans had travelled from all over the world just to share the magic. But Harry Potter at the Castle, as the event was named, was an exclusive affair.

Fans outside Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle was transformed into fictional academy Hogwarts
As the wizarding hour approached 70 lucky youngsters arrived in horse-drawn carriages and made their way down the red carpet into the great hall for a personal reading from Rowling herself.

The hush which fell upon the crowd inside and outside the castle when she opened her book really was magical.

Transfixed by chapter six - a tale of Harry's visit to George and Fred Weasley's joke shop in Diagon Alley - they fell into a world of spell-checking quills, daydream charms and decoy detonators.

There were surprisingly few cloaks and hats and only a handful of fake scars and wands, proving these kids were not fooled by the hype. Even meeting Harry's creator was secondary to getting to the story.

Harry Potter book launch
Dancers dressed as ghosts entertained waiting Potter fans
BBC Scotland's own cub reporter Gillian MacKay was inside. "(JK Rowling) said she'd recommend us for the next film," she said.

"Everybody was really excited, anxious to meet her, get their book and get to their beds."

Now the Potter fans are only pages away from finding out the secret identity of the Half-Blood Prince.


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