Today is the birthday of one of the best known fictional characters of all time – Harry Potter. His birthday is 31st July and he was born in 1980 making him 43 this year! To celebrate we have put together a merch haul of some of our favourite Potter merch.

Did you realise it’s been just over 26 years since the first Harry Potter book was released in June 1997? That means for many of us we have grown up with a constant supply of new Harry Potter books and then films to quench our insatiable appetite for all things Potter. In April 2023 Warner Bros. Discovery announced that the Harry Potter stories would make a return to viewers’ screens, this time in a television series format with a Max Original series authentic to the original books. The rumour mill has been in overdrive with anticipation of this new adaption but it seems pretty certain that each year in Hogwarts will translate as one season of the TV show, but we will have a little wait on our hands as its not expected to air until 2025 or even later.

So to keep us all occupied in the meantime, and to help those of us who are perhaps new to the delights of the Wizarding World we wanted to remind you of what’s included in this Fantastic beast (pun intended) of a franchise.

Hogwarts Express Acceptance Letter Cushion.Hogwarts Express Acceptance Letter Cushion

Firstly it all started with a boy. Harry, the brainchild of British writer J.K Rowling, and his adventures as a young orphaned wizard. The books follow 11 year old Harry and his best friends Ron and Hermione as they join the most famous Wizarding school in the world – Hogwarts. It actually took seven years from when Rowling had the idea of writing the book to finally getting Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone published with Bloomsbury. The first seven books came over a ten year period from 1997- 2007. To date there have been 600 million+ Harry Potter books sold across 200+ territories and in 85+ languages.

In 2001 fans braced themselves for the first film to release as Pottermania gripped the world and four hugely successful books were already out. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone in the US) was an instant hit grossing $974 million at the worldwide box office during its initial run. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone broke the record for the highest-opening weekend ever and remained at Number One in the UK for 5 weeks and holding onto the top spot in the US for three consecutive weekends.Hogwarts Gold Crest Hooded JumperHogwarts Gold Crest Hooded Jumper

Over the next decade seven sequels hit our screens, each diving deeper into the characters and wizarding world progressively getting darker in their plot lines. Unbelievably the films kept many of the original actors over the ten years of filming with the exception of the original Dumbledore actor Richard Harris who as replaced with Michael Gambon after his passing. The world followed the main actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, (who were all under 12 when they started the series of films) into their adulthood. Radcliffe was nearly 22 by the time the last film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was released in 2011.

Three further films directed by David Yates, and serving as a spin-off prequel were released Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), followed by The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018), and finally The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022). These Stories are well before Harry Potter’s time, set in the 1920’s and beyond. They feature characters like Newt Scamander played by Eddie Redmayne as a magizoologist. Gellert Grindelwald, Dumbledore’s old friend and long-time adversary played by many actors throughout the films but notably Jonny Depp and Mads Mikkelsen.Loungefly Marauders Map Mini-Backpack
Loungefly Marauders Map Mini-Backpack

All eight of the original Harry Potter films were shot in the UK and Ireland with is base at Leavesden studios just outside London. The books were being released as the films were being made and perhaps it was this phenomenon that lead to many of the films sets, props and costumes to be saved for use in future films but also happily for the use in what would become Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. In the first to films alone, Harry had approximately 245 individual costumes, Ron had approximately 130, and Hermione had 55.

On the 31st March 2012, the Studio Tour opened its doors to welcome visitors. Potter and film fans alike were delighted to be immersed in the movie making world with two soundstages and a backlot filled with original sets, animatronic creatures and breathtaking special effects. The Iconic Great Hall was one of the first sets to be created prior to filming and took eighteen weeks to build by approximately 30 people. Complete, the set could fit 22 London double-decker busses inside – ample room to fit 400 Hogwarts students. Tour visitors can walk through the space and feel as if they are in a Harry Potter film themselves. In stark contrast the ‘The Cupboard Under the Stairs’ (aka Harry’s bedroom), was such a small set that to shoot filmmakers had to create moveable walls to make room for the cameras. It can also be seen on the tour. Other tour delights include Gringotts Bank, the Dark Forrest, Interior sets and of course Diagon Alley. {See our 2019 Studio Tour walkthrough here}

Hogsmeade Village Visit LEGOHogsmeade Village Visit LEGO

Diagon Alley is the wizarding worlds most famous high street where all sorts of magical essentials can be bought. Although the studio tour only offers the façade of the magical shops, those who want a fully immersive visit will be delighted to know that there are now multiple Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park sites: Orlando, Hollywood, Japan, and Beijing. Universal Studios Orlando being the first and largest to open a Wizarding World. First in June 2010 in its Island of Adventures park with full scale re-creation of Hogsmeade, a small village not far from Hogwarts in the books. The flagship attraction is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a scenic dark ride, which exists within the imposing structure of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

A new roller coaster, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, which replaced the Dragon Challenge, opened on June 13, 2019 with a tear-inducing 10 hour wait time on its opening day. Other rides include Flight of the Hippogriff, a family roller coaster, and the Hogwarts Express. Fans can stroll about this immersive land and enjoy attractions such as Ollivanders Wand Shop, the Triwizard Spirit Rally, and the Frog Choir. Hogsmeade contains many gift shops and restaurants from the book series including Dervish and Banges, Honeydukes, The Three Broomsticks and The Hog’s Head.

The fun did not stop there as Universal Studios Florida opened another Wizarding World of Harry Potter land on July 8th, 2014. It includes a re-creation of the infamous Diagon Alley and its connecting alleys, as well as a small section of Muggle (non-magical) London. The exhilarating ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is housed inside Gringotts bank complete with a fire-breathing dragon on top which is a sight to see! The ride is an indoor steel roller coaster which uses fantastically realistic motion-based 3-D projection to enhance the ride. The area also contains shops and restaurants recognizable from the book series including The Leaky Cauldron, Ollivanders Wand Shop, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Borgin and Burkes and Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. The Hogwarts Express ride is a full size steam train which whisks passengers from one theme park to another linking the two areas of the wizarding world. However this is no ordinary train ride and the characters from the films visit you along the way both inside the train and outside via some very creative tech, we mean, Magic!

Botts Beans Souvenir TinBotts Beans Souvenir Tin

And speaking of magic, the multi award-winning stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is currently showing across London, New York, Melbourne, Hamburg, Toronto, and Tokyo featuring some jaw-dropping and head-scratching magic! The show is set 19 years after the first books and was written by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, as the 8th Harry Potter story. It follows the next generation of wizards and witches particularly Harry’s son Albus, as he joins Hogwarts, races through time and battles to stop mysterious forces. A fantastically magical way to delve deeper into Potter lore.

If you like the idea of battling using magic then the newest Harry Potter Game will not disappoint. From Portkey Games Hogwarts Legacy was first released in February 2023 across various platforms. The game was an instant hit with fans and it sold 12 million units in its first 2 weeks. Hogwarts Legacy is a single-player, open-world action role-playing game (RPG). The game’s premise centres around an original story that immerses players into the magical realm of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, set well before Harry Potter’s time. {Read our review here}

Hogwarts Express Round MugHogwarts Express Round Mug

And finally to end our whistle-stop tour of the Wizarding World, we will go back to where Harry’s Journey to Hogwarts began – at Platform 9 ¾ King’s Cross Station, London. The station has become a mecca for Potterheads wishing to see the place where Harry disappears through the wall onto to magical platform to board the Hogwarts Express. However at the real Kings Cross platforms 9 and 10 are separated by tracks, but you can find a platform 9¾ sign on the wall in the station concourse below the walkway leading to the main building. There is also The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 ¾ in King’s Cross Station which was the first ever Harry Potter Shop to open in the world outside of a themed visitor attraction. It was opened by Warwick Davis, who played Professor Flitwick and Griphook in the film series, on December 14th, 2012.

Also don’t forget that Kings Cross plays host to “Back To Hogwarts” on 1st September with its annual announcement of the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmead station on platform 9¾ at 11am. A fantastic meet up of Potter fans old and new. With so many books, films, shows, attractions, tours, merch, games and events there has never been a better time to explore more of the Wizarding World and maybe invite a new fan along for the ride!