It’s Harry Potter’s 20th Anniversary and Fans Are (Understandably) Going Wild

Social media, bookstores, and schools are honoring the book that started it all

June 26, 1997 is a date many readers know and cherish. On this day 20 years ago, Harry Potter, his beloved companions, his treacherous enemies, and the wizarding world entered (and promptly dominated) the literary canon via Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. For weeks now, Potterheads everywhere have been preparing for the anniversary of the book that started it all, and on this magical day, the festivities have peaked. All over the globe, celebrations have commenced to honor a world and a set of characters that have been received like no other; in fact, to this day, the book remains one of the best-selling titles of all time. To honor this momentous year, a number of events and goings-on reveal the magic that is the Harry Potter fandom.

Mini Potterheads gather to beat a world record

The Guinness World Record for Largest Gathering of People Dressed like Harry Potter is really a category and as of Friday, it has been topped by over 100. Nearly 700 robed and bespectacled students from eleven Bolton primary schools gathered on the lawn to successfully beat the record. Wearing a Gryffindor tie was not enough; Guinness judges take this category very seriously, requiring that everyone also wears glasses, carries a wand, and dons the signature forehead lightning bolt. Yet, from the looks of the photos, a number of kids are missing integral parts of the costume, which frankly, has us questioning whether these kids were the largest group of Harry look-alikes in history. Bloomsbury Publishing worked with the schools to host the gathering, offering each participant a free copy of the book.

Social media magic spells have fans celebrating together worldwide

Considering the wide expanse of the HP fandom, social media is a great way to connect with fellow Hogwarts fanatics, and it surely has not disappointed on the 20th anniversary. Twitter teamed up with Bloomsbury and Pottermore to create an official emoji, which appears when users enter #HarryPotter20. (Bloomsbury gets a big thanks on this anniversary — the publisher famously saw potential in Rowling’s story after the manuscript had been rejected by over ten other houses.) Naturally, the hashtag continues to be the top worldwide trend on the site, with fans reminiscing and recounting their experiences with the boy who lived. J.K. Rowling tweeted to her following of nearly 11 million people to reflect and offer thanks for the support the series has received. “20 years ago today a world that I had lived in alone was suddenly open to others. It’s been wonderful. Thank you.#HarryPotter20,” she wrote. Facebook also had some surprises in store; when typing in “Harry Potter” into a status, effects mimicking a wand casting a spell will appear on the user’s screen.

Bookstores continue to be harbringers of joy by planning special anniversary events

Bookstores around the country are preparing a host of events to celebrate the 20th anniversary. 20 bookshops have been selected by Bloomsbury to compete in a themed family quiz. Other stores are organizing costume competitions, simulated house sorting, and Triwizard quizzes for both long-time fans and Harry Potter beginners. Waterstones Aberdeen is planning a treasure hunt and an evening game of Quidditch Pong. All in all, it looks like a day full of magic for Potter fans.

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