yule have a blast
Since we first announced the news that Houston is the sole North American city for the new Harry Potter: A Yule Ball Celebration, locals have been clamoring for tickets — and the perfect costume to attend the holiday ball.
We caught a sneak peek of the immersive fun, located in the Galleria-area venue Paraiso Maravilla (5714 Fairdale Ln.), which is now open through January 20, 2023. Tickets are available here, with parking outside around $5.
As guests enter the venue, plenty of photo op displays are available, before the ballroom, which is decorated to evoke the Great Hall in the books and movie. Silver draping, Christmas trees and decorations, and tailor-made scenic pieces create a vibrant, snap-worthy vistas.
On the ballroom floor, hosts gather guests into their respective houses — Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Interactive fun starts with host introductions and team chants quite reminiscent of summer camp rallies, with clapping, stomping, and strutting. Then it's on to a fun fashion show, a proper ball, dancing, and even snow falling on the ballroom floor — a truly magical moment full of pomp and theater.
"The way we approach it, how we interact with the audience, it's a written show — all based around them," our host, the lively Adam Kral (looking very Harry himself) tells us as we walk the venue. "We try and incorporate the audience as much as we can, so we don't make it feel like there's actors and there's the public. We're all wizards, witches, and magic folk. That's the kind of idea that we're trying to establish here."
That means visitors can walk the venue and enjoy the gift shop, side rooms, two full bars serving butterbeer and other themed drinks, Potter-themed food, a courtyard, and more. Actor-hosts make for charming guides, especially for shy fans who simply want to cast a spell on their own.
"The costumes and characters' energy really immersed us in the wizarding world and made us feel the magic of the night," fan Eliza Engelsman tells us.
Indeed, Kral notes that many fans come in costume and that there's a strong LGBTQ presence in crowd and cast. He gets a little emotional when describing the transformation of certain fans, who come in costume, watch shyly from the side, and ultimately, join in the fun. "I really like this event for how open it is to kids my age," Ash Thornton, a young Hufflepuff, tells us.
"It's wonderful because all these people are so happy to be here and express what it means to them to be magical," Kral adds, "and to let things go, and just to exist in a place where people are really free to get in touch with something that they might have lost in childhood. That imagination, that magic. We're bonded together by magic."
The ball is officially produced by Warner Bros. and Fever Entertainment. Tickets start from $50 and include various packages. For a full schedule, tickets, and more information, visit the official site.
Emily Jaschke contributed to this article.