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It’s Back to Hogwarts!

It’s Back to Hogwarts!

Friday 1st September marked the spellbinding return of the annual Back to Hogwarts celebrations across Europe, which this year, were bigger than ever!  Fans of all ages with wands at the ready united to mark the day when students board the Hogwarts Express for yet another year of magical adventures. 

The first day of the academic year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been celebrated organically by fans since J.K. Rowling’s best-loved stories were first published by Bloomsbury and Scholastic over 25 years ago. Back to Hogwarts is now an annual tradition that recognises the magical moment when witches and wizards arrive at Platform 9 ¾, bringing together a vast and passionate community of fans to celebrate with themed events, competitions, watch parties, digital and real-life activations.

The festivities kicked off in the UK in on 31st July (Harry Potter’s birthday), as the Wizarding World launched its search for the nation’s most enthusiastic Harry Potter fan in a brand new Back to Hogwarts competition. The lucky winner, who beat hundreds of entries was 10-year-old Gryffindor, Arnav Paturkar from Chelmsford, Essex. He and his family were excited to receive tickets to discover the magic of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter and to see the critically acclaimed stage production, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. They also packed their trunks for a special trip to London to help host the iconic countdown at King’s Cross Station on Back to Hogwarts Day itself –where he was instrumental in rousing huge crowds to cheer the train’s departure – with the help of celebrity host and proud Hufflepuff, Sam Thompson. 

In honour of the special place that it holds in the hearts and minds of fans, the Wizarding World invited wizards, witches and Muggles of all ages to unite once again on Back to Hogwarts Day to see the train to Hogsmeade light up on the departure board at 11:00am in celebration of the iconic moment in popular culture. Dressed in their finest cosplay, fans gathered in the capital to raise their wands for the countdown and share their love of the stories. 

Over the special weekend, fans at King’s Cross Station sipped on Butterbeer, played Hogwarts Legacy on PlayStation 5, courtesy of Warner Bros. Games, took part in exciting LEGO® Harry Potter giveaways, and enjoyed a host of Instagrammable photo opportunities (including an impressive Buckbeak Schelich figurine) and free gifts. 

Celebrations were marked elsewhere in EMEA regions, with fans in Germany celebrating 25 years of Harry Potter by hosting a huge fan event at the Hamburg Rathausmarkt on 26th August where over 4453 fans dressed as Harry Potter set a new world record smashing the previous record of 997!  They also enjoyed a performance of the Wand Dance by actors from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, enchanting readings from the Harry Potter books by voice magician Rufus Beck, as well as quizzes, giveaways and exclusive offers from Schleich, LEGO® and Thalia.

The spellbinding celebrations continued in France on Saturday 2nd September, where the first giant interactive Harry Potter quiz was launched at Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles. Fans in Paris competed to defend the colours of their house and win the most house points, whilst enjoying the company of prestigious guests including the French voice talent for Ron Weasley and Harry Potter and costume designer Jany Temime. Fans in France have even more to celebrate this year, following the extension of Harry Potter: The Exhibition in Paris until 15th October, giving fans a little while longer to experience the phenomenal event that has sold over 250,000 tickets so far! 

In Italy, influencers came together to celebrate the magical occasion in style, whilst visitors at Milan train station had the opportunity to take photos against iconic wizarding world backdrops and models of Harry, Ron and Hermione. 

The magic didn’t stop there! Fans across Europe were able to relive the movie magic on the big screen by attending special screenings of the Harry Potter films at select locations. Fans in London flocked to Everyman Kings Cross cinema where all eight films were on offer over the Back to Hogwarts window, whilst fans across the country could attend screenings of the first two movies Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at Everyman and ODEON cinemas nationwide. 

In Barcelona, fans headed to Cines Filmax Gran Vía for special screenings of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as part of Spain’s Back to Hogwarts celebrations, while in Germany, Cinemaxx have bought all eight Harry Potter films back to the big screen. Throughout September and October, the films will be available in twenty-eight Cinemaxx cinemas nationwide, supported by a paid media campaign.

Fans all over the world also tuned in online to watch the latest news and announcements revealed in the Back to Hogwarts Digital Showcase on YouTube, as well as getting involved with specially created social media effects on Instagram and TikTok, turning fans into their very of Chocolate Frog card and enabling them to get a taste of life in the wizarding world in a brand-new way by casting their very own spells, with hilarious consequences! 

Pam Lifford, President, Global Brands, Franchises and Experiences, at Warner Bros. Discovery, saidBack to Hogwarts is a day cherished by Harry Potter fans of all ages, from all over the world. Just like their passion for the magic of the stories, their celebrations grow every year! 2023 has been a year like no other – we saw fans break world records in Germany, high octane quiz competitions in France and of course, the UK’s search to find the perfect person to join that amazing countdown. We are so proud to offer new and exciting ways to bring fans together and give them new ways to celebrate the Harry Potter magic – there’s nothing quite like Back to Hogwarts!”

About The Author

Rebecca Ash

Rebecca is the Editorial Director at Total Licensing Ltd. She can be reached at

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