Sunday 31st July 2016
We partied the night away to welcome Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two into bookstores – the biggest Wizarding World publishing event since Deathly Hallows.
It has been almost 10 years since the Wizarding World has had so much to celebrate. Last night Harry Potter fans descended en masse to central London. The last occasion this big was in 2007, when Deathly Hallows – what we thought would be the final Harry Potter story – hit bookshelves worldwide.
At Waterstones Piccadilly, Potter fans appeared in droves (and robes) to welcome the eighth story, the script book of stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two.
The atmosphere was more highly charged than a Blast-Ended Skrewt, and by 10pm there were around 500 of us snaking down Piccadilly in an orderly queue. I saw more than a few cloaks and even a few Death Eaters joined the party – which ended at one minute past midnight, when the script book went on sale.
First in line outside the bookstore was Ginevra Lazzoni (Ginny to her friends, of course) from Italy, who had been standing in line for six hours.
This was Ginny's second Cursed Child queue of the day: she’d been in line since 5am for the chance to attend the stage play’s red carpet event. She queued so doggedly for her spot at the barrier that she managed to meet J.K. Rowling herself, but sadly the selfie she took with her didn't work.
'I pressed the wrong button!' she squealed, clearly devastated. Putting her hands up to her face, Ginny inadvertently drew attention to the various Harry Potter tattoos on her arms including Hedwig, Hogwarts and all seven of Voldemort’s Horcruxes.
'Hello, I'm Draco Malfoy,' a remarkably composed nine-year-old with white-blond hair told me confidently as I passed down the queue. His parents, dressed as Luna Lovegood and Sirius Black, have shared their Potter passion with Draco (real name Joshua) and his sister – who made an excellent young Hermione and was otherwise known as six-year-old, Layla.
The doors of the beautiful five-floor art deco building occupied by Waterstones Piccadilly were eventually flung open, and the giant party that started in the queue outside took on new momentum as the entertainment flowed.
Costumes and props from the films were here too, including Sirius's flying motorbike. The first floor had been transformed into Diagon Alley, there was a Quidditch pitch, Hagrid's hut and even some of Voldemort’s Horcruxes.
It was incredible: quizzes, cake decorating, face-painting, photo booths – I even spotted a dark corner for fans to curl up and watch Deathly Hallows. Basically, Potter heaven.
Back in the sparkling atrium I met Jennifer Burchett, who wore an incredibly fetching Golden Snitch hat. As it turned out, she’d had it for rather a long time.
‘This was my costume for World Book Day when I was nine,’ Jennifer told me. ‘I kept it and adapted it for today. My mum stitched it for me and it got a lot of attention when I was a child. I knew it would come in handy again one day.’
Half an hour before midnight, the fans queued (again!) and who should be at the very front? Ginny of course. During her interview with an Italian newspaper she exclaimed, ‘Oh no! My parents haven’t seen them,’ when asked about her striking tattoos. ’I always wear a cardigan so they don’t know I’ve got them.’
The countdown began as the clock struck midnight. A roar went up through the patiently-waiting crowd, stretched all the way up the twisting staircase. And as we realised it was also Harry Potter’s birthday, a loud chorus of ‘Harry Birthday’ travelled through the multitude.
The first person to get her hands on a copy of the sturdy yellow hardback was the winner of the costume competition, Fran Plagge from Germany.
She had worked for three weeks on her version of Ron Weasley’s Yule Ball dress robes – lace cuffs and all – and was flanked by her friend, Lottie Yearby-Taylor, a fellow costume design student who came dressed as Dolores Umbridge.
People started to disperse. They clutched their books, hoping to get home as soon as they could and start reading. I bumped into Ginny again on my way out of the door. How does it feel to have the book in your hand, I asked her? ‘Really awesome…I so want to read it!’
Did you go to the midnight launch of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two? Waterstones’s party was just one of thousands across the world, and we’d love to hear from you. Tell us your stories on the Pottermore Facebook page, or join the conversation on Twitter.