In the UK, the start of September marks a return to the school gates for a new year in the classrooms.
For Harry Potter fans, children and adults alike, September 1 also welcomes another tradition. Usually, fans gather at Kings’s Cross Station, London, to celebrate the famous departure on the Hogwarts Express form the Platform 9 ¾, waving their hands at 11am, the time the fictional train set off with Harry on his first trip to wizarding school, Hogwarts.
However, as the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, this year’s celebrations are taking place virtually with a free event hosted by Wizarding World.
A live stream will be hosted as part of the online festivities, and fans will get to see actors from the movies take part, including James and Oliver Phelps, aka the Weasley twins, and Jason Isaacs who played Lucius Malfoy, along with the cast of the West End play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
There will also be trivia games and fans are encouraged to dress up and send in pictures to be included in a digital mosaic.
If you’re keen to celebrate, we’ve picked our favourite buys to get you ready for the magical event, from clothes to books and everything in between.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Table of Contents
If you have yet to read the series (we’re jealous), have a young relative who you want to introduce the books to, or just want to re-live the magic all over again, this Harry Potter complete paperback collection (Argos, £35) is perfect way to enjoy the tale of Harry and his time at Hogwarts and beyond.
The best-selling books make for brilliant bedtime stories, reading on the train or on the sofa during a rainy, cold weekend spent inside.
If your little ones are joining in on the event, this Harry Potter deluxe robe children’s costume, 5-6 years (John Lewis & Partners, £22) is ideal to keep them decked out and involved with the fun.
Put it on and watch them transform from muggle to wizard in an instant.
If you want to join in on the fun, this personalised authentic Gryffindor robe for adults (Warner Bros Studio Tour, £74.95) is as good as it gets.
With scarlet lining, hidden pockets for your wand and an embroidered house crest, you can create your own magic from the comfort of your home by playing dress-up with the whole family. Plus, it’ll make a great outfit for fancy dress parties, or Halloween.
You can customise the robe to have your first name, of up to 14 characters, adorned on it too, making it the perfect gift idea for an avid fan.
One of the most exciting things about starting a new school term is the new stationery, with everything you need to equip you for class. It’s no different for wizards, which is why you can inspire little imaginations with Harry potter-themed gifts.
We love this Harry Potter Hogwarts desktop stationery set (Very, £19.99) that is packed with the essentials to see you through another school year.
In it, you’ll find a 128-page pocket journal, 20 sheets of letterhead paper, 20 envelopes with the Hogwarts crest and a quill pen.
A new notebook is essential for budding wizards to jot down spells, potions and plans, especially if they have their newt exams coming up.
Keep this dark arts defence: basics for beginners journal (Waterstones, £12.99) close by for meticulous studying outside of quidditch practice.
All wizards need a wand, and while it’s not quite as one-off as those found in Ollivanders, this light painting wand Hermione (Aldi, £12.99) is the next best thing.
Practice your spells with this light-up design that you can sync to the accompanying free app to record your creations and share with friends.
Food and drink
Settle in on your sofa to join the Back To Hogwarts celebration with a steaming cup of tea.
Better yet, drink it from this Harry Potter marauder’s map heat changing mug (Harrods, £9.95).
When filled with hot liquid, the image on then mug changes, echoing the way the map in the film revealed hidden figures and secretive passages to the reader.
If you get peckish during the virtual journey to Hogwarts for a new term, snack on some chocolate frogs just as Ron and Harry did on the Hogwarts Express.
Scoff down these Harry Potter chocolate frogs (Tesco, £5) for a fun and sweet treat.
While the event has moved online this year, next time you get public transport, bring along this ticket card wallet (Harry Potter 934, £1.95) to add some magic into your own journeys.
It’ll also come in handy if you’re prone to losing your belongings, as it’ll keep an oyster card safely stowed away.
After the event is over if you still want to have some fun with friends online, play this free Hogwarts Digital Escape Room created by an American librarian in Pennsylvania.
You can explore the school of witchcraft and wizardry without leaving the sofa. The game begins right where it should, with first-years who have just been assigned to their houses.
There are team-building exercises, trivia questions to answer and puzzles to solve that you can do as an individual player, or in a team with your friends.
For more games and activities, read our guide to the best virtual escape rooms to play with friends
10 best school backpacks that kids will love to show off
Back to school essentials: Everything kids need for the new term
Where to buy kids’ face masks in the UK for the new school term