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Did you know that the 1st of September is known as Back to Hogwarts Day in the Wizarding World calendar?
That’s because this is the day that the students visit Platform 9 3/4s at King’s Cross Station to return to Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express.
Although Potterheads around the world celebrate this day in their own way, the best place to be on Back to Hogwarts Day would be King’s Cross Station in London.
Every year they have a huge celebration event and they even have a special Hogwarts Express train announcement.
Here is a complete guide on Harry Potter Back to Hogwarts Day and how to hear the King’s Cross Hogwarts Express announcement.
What is the Harry Potter Back to Hogwarts Day?
Back to Hogwarts Day takes place every 1st of September and it marks the annual tradition of students returning to Hogwarts via the Hogwarts Express for the new term.
Ever since the books and movies have been released, this day has been celebrated by Potterheads worldwide and the celebrations seem to get bigger and better every year.
Back to Hogwarts Day means something different to everyone. For Harry Potter, it was going ‘home’ and escaping the Dursleys.
I always find that Back to Hogwarts day and Halloween is like the turn of a new year for me in the calendar as opposed to New Year! It’s my favourite time of year with so many new beginnings.
So, now it’s your turn to figure out what Back to Hogwarts Day means to you!
What happens at King’s Cross Station on September 1st?
The best place in the world to celebrate Back to Hogwarts Day would be King’s Cross station in London.
This is where hundreds of Potterheads will gather on the 1st of September to hear a special train announcement for the Hogwarts Express departing at 11 am!
As well as the King’s Cross Station Hogwarts Express announcement, there will be live shows, photo opportunities, and magical events taking place throughout the day.
King’s Cross Station Back to Hogwarts Day celebrations
So, what is there to do at King’s Cross Station on Back to Hogwarts Day? Well, Potterheads will be pleased to know there is plenty of magical things to get up to!
From photo opportunities, live shows, freebies, and hearing the exclusive Hogwarts Express announcement.
The celebrations usually take place over a couple of days but I would always try to visit on the 1st of September if you can.
This is the only day when you can hear the announcement and the magical atmosphere is unmatched!
Magical things to do at King’s Cross Station Back to Hogwarts Day celebrations
1. See Hogsmeade and the Hogwarts Express on Train Departure Boards
The first thing I did as soon as I entered King’s Cross Station around 10 am was to have a look for the Hogwarts Express on the train departure boards.
They will have a departure for Hogsmeade at 11 am on the announcement boards and it will have the service as the Hogwarts Express at the bottom.
If you wait for the text to scroll, it will say underneath ‘Departs from Platform Nine and Three Quarters. A Hogwarts Express service’.
This only happens at King’s Cross Station once a year on September 1st so it’s really special to see it for yourself.
2. Visit special Harry Potter displays
As part of the Harry Potter celebrations, you’ll usually find lots of Wizarding World sponsors and collaborators who have set up counters and displays at King’s Cross Station.
This year, they had Lego displays of a huge blue Ford Anglia, the Sorting Hat, and the Hogwarts Express Train.
Bloomsbury publishers were there celebrating the 25th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone book. You could take a photo with a huge copy!
I even saw a Daniel Radcliffe lookalike Felixir_Official here! I had to do a double-take when I first saw him.
3. Watch Harry Potter shows live on stage
You’ll usually find a huge stage that has been set up for the crowds gathering on the 1st of September at King’s Cross Station.
The presenters Vick Hope, and Sam Thompson were great at getting everyone excited about all the Harry Potter shows, events and announcements that day.
Paul Harris, who was the wand choreographer in the Harry Potter movies, made an appearance to run through a Wand Combat workshop.
He was joined by Voldemort’s Death Eaters and took us through how to swish and flick with our wands.
I was also delighted to see the cast of the multi-award-winning Harry Potter and The Cursed Child perform their Wand Dance live on stage!
4. Hear the King’s Cross Station Hogwarts Express announcement
During the show, they will take a quick pause at 11 am to hear the annual King’s Cross Station Hogwarts Express announcement!
It only happens once a year on the 1st of September so don’t miss out. This was the first time I had ever heard it and I was so excited.
At this time, make sure to raise your wand with everyone and give a cheer once the Hogwarts Express has left the station!
5. Grab some Harry Potter freebies
As well as watching shows and taking lots of photos and videos, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for Harry Potter freebies!
Bloomsbury was giving away special anniversary tote bags with Wizarding World notebooks, pens, and bookmarks. You just needed to take a photo and tag them online.
I got the Prisoner of Azkaban tote with the Knight Bus and was so happy I got some Slytherin goodies!
Also, Lego was giving away miniature Harry Potter sets. I got Hermione’s study desk in Hogwarts library that I had so much fun building.
It had a Lego quill, a Hogwarts letter, a really heavy book, a chocolate frog card, and an owl perched on the side. It was SO cool.
There were also free badges and green-screen video opportunities. I swear I saw some free t-shirts going around as well!
6. Dress up and take lots of magical photos
If there is any day that you should think about dressing up in your Hogwarts house robes it’s Back to Hogwarts Day.
There will be lots of Potterheads dressed up for the occasion along with you donning their scarves and wands.
You should also look out for some amazing cosplay artists who dress up as characters like Rita Skeeter, Severus Snape, Albus Dumbledore, and Molly Weasley. I even saw a dog dressed up with three heads like Fluffy!
There will be plenty of opportunities to take photos on the day. Make sure to tag the Wizarding World and #backtohogwarts when you post.
7. Visit the King’s Cross Harry Potter shop
Aside from all the magical Back to Hogwarts Day celebrations, you can visit the King’s Cross Harry Potter Shop at the station all year round.
It’s a huge store that sells all sorts of Wizarding World merchandise. You’ll find Hogwarts robes, Quidditch jumpers, wands, toys, badges, and all sorts of souvenirs.
My favourite part is the fact that they sell Chocolate Frogs, bottles of Butterbeer, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans! It’s like strolling into Honeydukes.
Note: The shop may be very busy on Back to Hogwarts Day so you can expect there to be a long queue to enter.
8. Get a photo with the Platform 9 3/4 trolley
A highlight for visiting the Harry Potter shop at King’s Cross Station is getting a photo with the Platform 9 3/4s trolley while you’re here.
You can wait in line to get a photo with a luggage trolley that looks like you are teleporting through the wall. They even have Hogwarts house scarves and wands to pose with.
Getting a photo with the trolley is completely free with your phone or camera but you may have to wait in a rather long line – especially on Back to Hogwarts Day.
You can also buy professional souvenir photos on the day to take home in a frame, magnet, or keyring.
9. Visit Harry Potter filming locations
Did you know that the Harry Potter movies were also filmed at King’s Cross Station?
One of my favourite moments from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is when Harry travels through to Platform 9 3/4s with his trolley.
You can find this filming location between platforms 4 & 5 at King’s Cross Station.
The bridge where Harry walks to the train with Hagrid is also there but it doesn’t look like it did in the first movie. It has since been upgraded to a modern glass walkway!
10. Keep up with Back to Hogwarts Day celebrations around the world
As well as the King’s Cross Station Back to Hogwarts Day celebrations, there are usually events happening all around the world.
From Paris to New York, there are plenty of Potterheads that love to celebrate on the 1st of September.
You will also find some online events happening on the Wizarding World YouTube channel where they usually Live Stream the event at King’s Cross.
Or, Tom Felton who played Draco Malfoy, sometimes presents some special TikTok Live events. This year, he took everyone on a tour of the Harry Potter Studios in London!
How much does it cost to attend Back to Hogwarts Day at King’s Cross Station?
The great news is that you can attend the King’s Cross Station Back to Hogwarts Day celebrations absolutely FREE.
All of the shows, photo opportunities, meet-ups, and the chance to win freebies won’t cost you a single Gringott’s Galleon.
So, there’s really no excuse not to plan a trip and celebrate Back to Hogwarts Day in London!
Make sure to keep notified about Back to Hogwarts Day
Make sure to keep up to date with all the announcements for Back to Hogwarts Day by signing up for the Wizarding World mailing list.
When you join the Harry Potter Fan Club you’ll be sorted into your Hogwarts House via the Hogwarts Sorting Ceremony and find out your Patronus. Then, you’ll get access to exclusive games, quizzes, and more.
But, the best part is that you also get all the Wizarding World and Harry Potter updates via their newsletters.
You’ll usually find some Owl Mail in your inbox around mid-August to let you know the plans for the Back to Hogwarts Day celebrations and what’s happening at King’s Cross Station.
These magical events usually spread across a few days, not just September 1st, so there will be plenty of time to join in on the magical fun.
Back to Hogwarts Day FAQs
- Is September 1st Hogwarts Day? Yes, it’s Back to Hogwarts Day in the Wizarding and Muggle world.
- When is Back to Hogwarts Day? 1st of September!
- What time does the Hogwarts Express leave on September 1st? Without fail, it leaves Platform 9 3/4s on the 1st of September at 11 am.
- Why do they celebrate Back to Hogwarts Day? Because it’s the day that students return to Hogwarts via the Hogwarts Express each year.
- What does 5972 mean in Harry Potter? It’s the number on the front of the Hogwarts Express train.
- Was Harry Potter filmed at King’s Cross Station? Yes, they filmed scenes here from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. You’ll find them on the bridge walkway and Platform 9 3/4s can be found between platforms 4 & 5.
Looking for more Harry Potter locations in London?
There are plenty more locations and experiences that you can seek out if you’re a Potterhead in London!
I would recommend visiting the House of MinaLima and The Cursed Child performances at the Palace Theatre.
Talking of Diagon Alley, one of my favourite locations I visited has to be Leadenhall Market. A gorgeous Victorian wonder that featured as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley.
You can head into St Paul’s Cathedral to see their Geometric Staircase which was the Divination Stairwell at Hogwarts.
I would then catch the tube over to the River Thames to see sights like the Millennium Bridge, Tower Bridge, London City Hall, and Borough Market which all featured as filming locations.
You could go for a Harry Potter afternoon tea at Cutter & Squidge and then finish the day off with immersive experiences like magical cocktails at The Cauldron.
Plus, you can’t forget the Harry Potter Studio tour. It’s a must visit for any Potterhead! You can visit the regular tour and add extras like their magical afternoon tea.