It's no secret that I'm a giant Harry Potter nerd. I have the books practically memorized. I played quidditch throughout college. Half of my wardrobe is Hufflepuff-themed. If you're looking for advice from me, I'm likely to respond with a Dumbledore quote. For me, Harry Potter is like comfort food. Whenever I'm sad, or lonely, or just want to be wrapped up in something, I crack open the nearest Harry Potter book and let J.K. Rowling whisk me away.
And I'll bet you're obsessed, too, because Harry Potter is the bomb. The series has won the hearts of generations. It has inspired art upon art, with billions of fan interpretations, costumes, merchandise, movies, theme parks, proposals, theme weddings, and bands. We grew up with Harry and the gang, and we've kept them close-by as adults.
The best news is that, though the books ended years ago, the world of Harry Potter is still alive and kicking. (They call him the Boy-Who-Lived for a reason.) With Harry Potter and the Cursed Child coming to the West End this summer, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on its way to theaters, and J.K. Rowling tweeting out new tidbits every chance she gets, new additions to the canon are flowing like butterbeer. But even better, our Muggle world is continuously fusing with the wizarding world, and even beyond the books, you can always find a way to dive into the Harry Potter universe.
So, if you're bonkers for the Boy-Who-Lived, if you go hog-wild for Hogwarts, if you are the Chosen One of fans, here's a Harry Potter bucket list you won't want to miss.
1. Play Quidditch
Quidditch has become a real, competitive, full-contact, co-ed sport and it is intense. Played by colleges and community teams around the world, any Potterhead (or sports fan, for that matter) has got to try it out. Players run with brooms between their legs, use dodgeballs for bludgers, and the snitch is a person running around with a ball inside a sock hanging out of the back of their pants.
2. Visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios
Diagon Alley! Hogsmeade! Hogwarts! Rides! Shops! The wizarding world is truly alive here. Grab your trunk, owl, and broomstick — let's go!
3. Have Tea at The Elephant House
This cafe in Edinburgh is where J.K. Rowling sat down to pen the early Harry Potter books. See if you can soak up some of the writerly magic as you munch on a scone or two.
4. Go to Platform 9 3/4 in King's Cross Station
The real King's Cross Station in London has as an actual Platform 9 3/4, complete with cart and owl. The perfect picture opportunity for anyone yearning for the Hogwarts Express.
5. Go See Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Premiering in London's West End on June 30, 2016, this play is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series. Everyone is freaking out about how cool it's going to be. The play is in two parts. Be sure to get your tickets ASAP.
6. Read an Edition of Harry Potter From Another Country
While "Philosopher's Stone" versus "Sorcerer's Stone" is the biggie, it's delightful discover the tiny little changes between editions. Plus, the covers all have their own unique flair.
7. Read an Edition of Harry Potter in Another Language
Harry Potter is available in so many different languages, and the ways they've translated all the wizardy words are super cool. For instance, "dementor" is turned to "mozkomor" in Czech, which literally means "brain plague."
8. Listen to Both the Stephen Fry and Jim Dale Versions of the Audiobooks
After years of avidly listening to the American version, with Jim Dale narrating, I found out that my hero Stephen Fry performs the British version of the audiobooks, and I nearly passed out with happiness. Each reader has their own unique stye and flair for bringing Hogwarts to life.
9. Make Your Favorite Magical Treat
Whether you love Chocolate Frogs, Cauldron Cakes, or Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans the most, no Potter fan's life is complete without their own selection of wizarding recipes. Check out The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz for some great recipes.
10. Get Sorted on Pottermore
The official way to find out your true house. Not to mention, a cool portal into the books and the wizarding world.
11. Visit the Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh
J.K. Rowling got inspiration from the names in this graveyard. See if you can spot Thomas Ridell and William McGonagall. Some people even leave notes behind.
12. Find the Castles That Inspired Hogwarts
While you're in Edinburgh, look out for the George Heriot's School, the castle that inspired Hogwarts as J.K. Rowling wrote the series. Or, head to Alnwick Castle, in Northumberland, England, where they filmed Hogwarts for the first two movies.
13. Visit the Real Great Hall and Other Hogwarts Locations in Oxford
It's no surprise that Oxford is packed full of Harry Potter set locations, because the entire town feels like you're at Hogwarts. You'll be up in your ears in Potter deja vu.
14. Attend the Quidditch World Cup
Not only is quidditch real, but there's a real, international world cup every year. This year's world cup will be in Columbia, South Carolina on April 16 and 17, 2016. Gather with quidditch's biggest fans to watch the best of the best duke it out on the pitch. (Bragging moment: my alma mater, The University of Texas, has gone home with the cup three years in a row. Hook 'em!)
15. Perfect Your Favorite Butterbeer Recipe
Whether you're going for the alcoholic kind or a virgin version, every aspiring witch or wizard needs to know their favorite way to make butterbeer. Starbucks even offers a Butterbeer Frappuccino.
16. Get a Harry Potter Inspired Tattoo
Dark Marks, Deathly Hallows, and everything in between. The series is ripe with inspiration for a great tattoo.
17. Dress Up Like a Minor Character
Nearly everyone's dressed up like one of the main trio, but truly devoted fans have dressed up like one of the many colorful minor characters in the series. Whether you're donning Dobby ears or releasing your inner Trelawney, give your favorite minor character some love.
18. Tweet at J.K. Rowling
Bonus points if she tweets back at you.
19. Read Quidditch Through The Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Required textbooks for any would-be-Hogwarts student. A great way to augment your knowledge about the Potterverse. Plus, get read up before the Fantastic Beasts movie comes out.
20. Write Harry Potter Fan Fiction
Make your wildest dreams come true. Ship the most unlikely pairs. Create alternate endings. Mix fandoms. Go CRAZY. (Bonus points if you've published on Mugglenet.)
21. Sing Along to A Very Potter Musical and A Very Potter Sequel
If you haven't seen this fan-created musical parody (or rewatched it recently), it's a must. You'll laugh like there's no tomorrow. Totally awesome.
22. Listen to Wizard People, Dear Reader Along with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Brad Neely recorded an audiobook-like commentary to go over the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, in which nothing is correct and everything is hilariously goofy. Harry's a malevolent drunk, Ron is called "Ronnie the Bear," and Neville is simply known as "Upfish," It's great fun, and you should definitely give it a listen.
23. Build a Hogwarts Out of Legos
This one is of course the cream of the crop, but there are plenty of Harry Potter Lego sets out there for you to make your own Hogwarts dreams come true. Perfect for re-enacting your favorite scenes — or the scenes you wish had happened.
24. Watch All Eight Movies in One Sitting
This takes about 19 1/2 hours. But it'll be the best, most magical 19 1/2 hours of your life.
25. Re-read All the Books (Obviously)
All the razzle-dazzle is fun, but sometimes you've got to stick to the classics.