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This Harry Potter larp is probably the closest you'll ever get to Hogwarts, and applications open this week

This Harry Potter larp is probably the closest you'll ever get to Hogwarts, and applications open this week

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Real-world Quidditch leagues are fine, but last month, nearly 200 people participated in a tremendously cool-sounding love letter to the Harry Potter world: a weekend of live-action wizarding role-playing held in an actual Polish castle. The College of Wizardry was a four-day, volunteer-organized Nordic larp — an art form that's less rules-focused than its American counterpart and falls somewhere between gaming and theater. Players from 11 countries were assigned characters and thrown into life as students, instructors, and others at "Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry," a made-up counterpart to Hogwarts with five newly-created houses and its own fictional backstory.

USA Today digs into the history of the larp, which was created after its organizers discovered they could rent Czocha Castle affordably. Nordic larps have a history of impressive locations; a decommissioned battleship played host to a Battlestar Galactica role-playing session, and political larp System Denmark built an entire community out of shipping containers. They're also spent, as much as possible, completely in character, which in this case meant participating in the unscripted drama of wizarding life as well as playing along with the idea that spells were real and magical creatures like house-elves roamed the castle.

The best part of this, by far, is that it's not too late to enroll. Many Nordic larps are only held once, but The College of Wizardry was successful enough that it's being reprised in April of 2015, and applications are being accepted starting December 11th. In addition to travel, a ticket costs 280 euros (around $350), and they're being sold on a first-come first-served basis; given how much attention the first run got, they'll probably be gone quickly. That fee covers food, lodging, a robe, a study book, and a tie in your house color, though you'll have to return those once it's over.

In preparation, you can check out the detailed design document for the original larp, or see some of the many gorgeous pictures taken in November. A documentary is supposed to be coming later, but for now, the "teaser trailer" above is an excellent place to start. Judging by the larp's FAQ, you should also make sure you know exactly what's going on, because the organizers have apparently had to clarify that they're not actually running a school: "We do not have real classes," they write by way of clarification, "and you cannot enroll, pay tuition, etc."