The seventh and final Harry Potter tome hits shelves midnight Friday. Celebrate Harry, all over town.

The Harry Potter "Knight Bus"

The Harry Potter "Knight Bus"

The wait is finally over. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth film adaptation in the series, is already breaking box office records since its opening on July 11, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the hotly anticipated seventh and final book in J.K Rowling’s hit series, will be available beginning Friday at midnight. And all you muggles will have plenty of ways to pass the time until you can get your hands on it.

In celebration of the release, Scholastic, Harry Potter’s U.S. publisher, again turns its own backyard into “Harry Potter Place” from 5pm to 11pmFriday evening on an entire SoHo block (Mercer Street, between Prince and Spring Streets). This magical and interactive street fair features a giant Muggle Board, where Harry Potter fans can share personal messages about the books, a gallery where fans can have their photos taken, and a 20-foot high moving Whomping Willow (controlled by puppeteers inside its trunk). As if that weren’t enough, there will also be face painting, wand-making, fire-eaters, magicians, jugglers, stilt-walkers, and more.

The Knight Bus, a replica of the “violently purple” triple-decker bus from the Harry Potter books, will end its seven-week national tour at “Harry Potter Place,” where fans can climb aboard and record a 20-second video message.

“We’re celebrating a decade of magic,” said Billy DiMichele, director of corporate productions for Scholastic, as well as the mastermind behind Harry Potter Place. “One of the greatest moments for me was two years ago, when we opened the gates and a sea of muggles just ran screaming into ‘Harry Potter Place.’ It was so thrilling, and the excitement is at such a fever pitch that it’s palpable.”

But if you can’t make it to the Scholastic store tonight, here are some other places New Yorkers can embrace their inner Gryffindor:

Barnes & Noble bookstores throughout the city are hosting “Midnight Magic” parties Friday, where muggles young and old can dress as their favorite characters, make magic wands and potions, get their faces painted and more as they await the release of the seventh and final book in the series. Jim Dale, the Grammy Award-winning narrator who has created and recorded more than 200 different voices for the Harry Potter audiobooks, will be at the Union Square store to count down the minutes to midnight (Check to find a Midnight Magic party near you).

Books of Wonder (16 West 18th Street, between 5th and 6th avenues, 212-989-3270) joins the Harry Potter hoopla from 8pm to 1am Friday night, with magicians, jugglers, caricaturists, acrobats, prizes and real live owls! Then, come back on Saturday between 1pm and 3pm, when Harry Potter artist Mary Grandpré will greet friends and fans and sign copies of the book.

Harry Potter Place

Harry Potter Place

The New York Public Library probably has more than just Harry Potter books, but you wouldn’t know it Friday at the Donnell Library Center (20 West 53rd Street, between 5th and 6th avenues, 212-621-0619). Throughout the day, starting at 2pm, children can enjoy a magic show, potions, crafts and a costume parade, and even find out if they’re a Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin. Saturday morning, the kids can come back to the library at 10am for a free Harry Potter movie marathon and party.

Toys “R” Us Times Square hosts a party and a special after-midnight opening for wizards, witches and muggles alike Friday. Beginning at 9:30pm, fans can participate in activities, trivia, games and more in front of the store, then at 12:01am pick up a copy of the book inside. (Guests who purchase the new book receive a commemorative glow-in-the-dark poster available only at Toys “R” Us Times Square.)

“This isn’t really an ending for us,” DiMichele said. “Harry Potter will go on and on.”

This article was published in the July 20-22, 2007 weekend issue of amNewYork.