A virtual version of the Hogwarts Express has departed King’s Cross as part of the first online Back To Hogwarts Day.
Fans traditionally gather at the London station to mark the train’s departure from the fictional Platform 9¾ but were this year asked to stay away due to Covid-19.
Instead, a Twitter livestream saw the train depart virtually, taking students to the school of witchcraft and wizardry for another year.
This morning, I don’t need to leave home to go #BackToHogwarts with a whole load of like-minded death eaters and, unfortunately, a bunch of irritating Weasleys. Come and forget the muggletastrophe for a while. https://t.co/B0umF6tHoZ
— Jason Isaacs (@jasonsfolly) September 1, 2020
It also featured appearances from stars of the films including James and Oliver Phelps, Jason Isaacs and Bonnie Wright, who took part in quizzes and answered trivia questions from fans.
Presenter Vick Hope kicked off the event, saying: “For years fans have gathered at King’s Cross station to celebrate Back To Hogwarts and we wanted to make sure that this year is equally special.
“Because everything is a little bit different in 2020 – let’s face it – and we are all spending more time at home, we decided to bring the magic to you.
“So wherever you are in the world, this is your chance to get involved.”
The cast of the Harry Potter And The Cursed Child stage show, which played on Broadway and in the West End, described how they were celebrating the day.
— James Phelps (@James_Phelps) September 1, 2020
In a series of pre-recorded messages, they thanked fans for being “such a very special part of the wizarding world community” and promised they would return following the pandemic.
They also encouraged students to have a “highly safe, fun and socially distanced Back To Hogwarts”.
Fans submitted their photos for a digital mosaic which will grow throughout the day so they can show off their costumes.
It was a little bit different this year but just as magical. Thank you all who joined us…. What time is the tea trolly coming round? #BackToHogwarts 🚂
— Oliver Phelps (@OliverPhelps) September 1, 2020
The pictures will also be displayed inside King’s Cross so enthusiasts can have a virtual presence in the station.
A message on the WizardingWorld.com website said: “Though this year may look a bit different than in the past, the time has arrived to pack your trunk, ready your school supplies and prepare to go Back To Hogwarts – virtually!”
The livestream also supported Potter author JK Rowling’s Lumos charity.