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Harry Potter fans brave rail strikes for Back to Hogwarts Day at King’s Cross

Harry Potter fans of all ages gathered at Kings Cross station in London on Friday to celebrate the annual Back to Hogwarts Day (Lucy North/PA) (PA Wire)
Harry Potter fans of all ages gathered at Kings Cross station in London on Friday to celebrate the annual Back to Hogwarts Day (Lucy North/PA) (PA Wire)

Thousands of Harry Potter fans braved the rail strikes on Friday to gather at King’s Cross station in London for the annual Back to Hogwarts Day.

Dressed in wizard robes and carrying wands, fans of the franchise travelled to the station to hear the loudspeaker announcement for the Hogwarts Express at 11am, inviting witches and wizards to board the train to Hogsmeade at platform nine and three quarters.

Despite train strikes grinding services to a halt on Friday, thousands of people crowded in front of the live departure board at King’s Cross to see the fictional platform call appear on screen, prompting a cheer from fans of all ages.

The live event was hosted for the second year in a row by TV star, radio presenter and fellow fan, Sam Thompson – who, at one point, invited one fan Manish Pindoria to the stage where he proposed to his girlfriend, Panveet Kaur Bason.

Celebrity fan Thompson, who has named his two cats Albus and Cedric after Harry Potter characters, encouraged fans to join in with the live countdown for the train’s departure, which was led this year by 10-year-old Arnav Partukar from Chelmsford.

Manish (right) proposes to his girlfriend Pavneet during the annual Back to Hogwarts Day at Kings Cross (PA)
Manish (right) proposes to his girlfriend Pavneet during the annual Back to Hogwarts Day at Kings Cross (PA)

Arnav, who won a competition held by the Wizarding World to find the most enthusiastic fan in the UK, said it was a day he will “never, ever forget”.

“All my friends and family know that I am the biggest Harry Potter fan around, so when my parents told me about a competition to lead the live countdown at Back to Hogwarts, as a proud Gryffindor I just knew I had to give it a go,” Arnav said.

“I have had so much fun, and it has been amazing meeting lots of other Harry Potter fans, just like me.”

Made In Chelsea’s Thompson said hosting the event was a “dream come true” and getting to do so alongside 10-year-old Arnav was “an absolute honour”.

“As my cats, Albus and Cedric can attest to, I love Harry Potter,” he said.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“Being able to come back to King’s Cross to host such a brilliant event, in front of so many like-minded fans is literally my dream come true.

“What I loved about Back to Hogwarts is that you get to see the shared love that this community has for Harry Potter and the magical wizarding world, and hosting alongside Arnav has been an absolute honour.”

Speaking about the festivities, one fan in attendance, Eliya Williams, nine, said: “Back to Hogwarts is something I look forward to every time September rolls around, it’s a time I feel really connected to other fans and they haven’t disappointed this year.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

“I’m so excited to be here to celebrate with my fellow Muggles, witches and wizards and it means so much that they involved fans in the countdown too.”

The new cast members and creative team behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage play were also in attendance, joining fans in the annual festivities.