Harry Potter-themed New Year’s Eve celebration planned for downtown Farmington’s Riley Park Ice Rink

Melissa Andrade admits that she was a little nervous in the minutes leading up to the practice run for Farmington’s first ever New Year’s Eve ball drop. But as the “ball” — a surprise wrapped in plastic that won’t be revealed until the event itself — was successfully raised and lowered to the surface of the Riley Park Ice Rink, Andrade felt a wave of relief that was soon replaced with anticipation for this year’s big event.

“I’m really excited now. It’s been so much work through the holidays; we made the chocolate frogs ourselves. But the practice run for the ball drop made everything seem like it’s going to be okay,” says Andrade, Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Farmington.

“I want to reiterate that this event is a lot of work made possible by the time given by our volunteers. The people stepping up to help out during the holidays has been phenomenal.”

A surprise New Year’s Eve ball drop, chocolate frogs — downtown Farmington’s New Year’s Eve celebration is a themed-one, called Harry Potter and the Holiday Skate. The event started a few years ago and was typically held on the Saturday between Christmas and the New Year, but with New Year’s Eve falling on a Saturday this year, the decision was made to make it a full-blown New Year’s Eve celebration.

The first Harry Potter-themed event at Riley Park Ice Rink took place in 2018 and was an immediate success, Andrade says — although she’s quick to point out that the event itself was actually her daughter’s idea. Andrade expected 50 to 70 people to show up to the ice rink that inaugural night; the crowd would number in the hundreds.

After COVID-19 canceled its 2020 iteration, Harry Potter and the Holiday Skate returns bigger than ever. The event officially begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 31, in downtown Farmington’s Riley Park Ice Rink. Planned activities include a Horcrux scavenger hunt, Quidditch toss, and a Harry Potter-themed costume contest. Professor Pemberton’s Wands & Accoutrements, Clever Creations by Amy, The Cheese Lady, and Dearborn Music will also be on hand.

As for the ball drop, a kid-friendly one is scheduled for 9 p.m. in Riley Park. The main event will see the mystery New Year’s Eve ball dropped at the stroke of midnight, lowered from a Farmington fire truck’s extended ladder to the surface of Riley Park Ice Rink.

Hot cocoa, chocolate frogs, and butterbeer will be served, and since the ice rink is part of the Syndicate’s social district footprint, festival-goers will be allowed to purchase alcoholic beverages from participating bars and restaurants to bring into Riley Park itself.

The New Year’s Eve celebration should be one that appeals to both children and adults, a family-friendly event that ties in a well-loved story that is beginning to be passed from one generation to the next.

“Harry Potter is as popular as ever, both kids and adults love it,” Andrade says. “Those books came out twenty years ago and the kids that grew up reading it are now adults and there are new generations of kids that now love it, too.”

Harry Potter and the Holiday Skate is scheduled from 8 p.m. to midnight on New Year’s Eve in downtown Farmington’s Riley Park. Tickets for the event, $10 for individuals and $30 for families, are available online and in-person.
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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.