Harry Potter fans encouraged to stay home for first virtual 'Back to Hogwarts'

Harry Potter fans encouraged to stay home for first virtual 'Back to Hogwarts'

The Wizarding World is hosting its first digital "Back to Hogwarts" event.

Whereas traditionally on 1st September Harry Potter fans have gathered at London’s King's Cross Station, waving their wands at 11 a.m. precisely to mark the Hogwarts Express’ departure from Platform 9¾, this year an open invitation is being extended for them to come together virtually.

In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the free virtual event has been developed with safety in mind.  

It is promised to feature "a mass of surprises and fun", including appearances from special guests, including James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley) and Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy). There will be an appearance from the cast of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child", too, before the fan countdown kicks off, and trivia games for fans to join in with.

Fans can snap photos of themselves on the day, in fancy dress if they wish, which will be added to a digital mosaic that will grow throughout the day "to bring the community to life". Over at King's Cross, although encouraged to stay at home, fan-submitted imagery will be displayed inside the station, giving participants a virtual presence there throughout the day; it will be available to view throughout the morning via a livestream and social media. 

The Back To Hogwarts Livestream will support Lumos, the NGO founded by Rowling, and fans will have the option to press a button during the stream and make a donation throughout the digital event.

James Phelps said: "I’m so excited to be playing a part in the first ever digital Back to Hogwarts: 2020 has definitely been a strange year and it’s really important that we all do everything we can to keep safe, including staying home. I hope fans will join us and keep the celebrations virtual."

From 29th August, Wizarding World.com will host a selection of new content, including hearing from "creative masterminds" behind the Harry Potter franchise, such as Paul Harris, wand choreographer for the Harry Potter films, who will be demonstrating and teaching the art of wand combat. Celebrity readings of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone will meanwhile be accessible exclusively for registered members of the Harry Potter Fan Club.

Wizarding World is a joint venture between Harry Potter digital business Pottermore and the movie studio Warner Bros.