Like most of Harry’s outward-bound trips to Hogwarts, his sixth journey back to school was pretty eventful. There was Slughorn’s attempt to revive the Slug Club. There was spying on Malfoy. There was being punched by Malfoy. There was even being left on the train unable to move by Malfoy. All very dramatic. So when, after all that action, Harry arrived at school too late for dinner, having been escorted by a miserable Tonks, handed over to an unimpressed Snape, lost multiple points for Gryffindor before the term had even started, with blood all over his face – well, let’s just say it was a bit of an anti-climax.
Despite another action-packed trip aboard the Hogwarts Express, Harry’s third year also began pretty unceremoniously. He’d just met Lupin and was still trying to process his first encounter with a Dementor when he and Hermione were commandeered by Professor McGonagall on their way to the feast, missing the Sorting Ceremony in the process. Harry also endured a check-up from Madam Pomfrey and the muttered whispers of his fellow students. Still, Professor McGonagall did give Hermione a Time-Turner, so we’ll give this arrival 3 points because that was pretty useful, in the end.
As entrances go, this was pretty spectacular. In fact, if the stakes hadn’t been quite so high at that precise moment Harry, Ron and Hermione made their way into the Room of Requirement, we’d rank it higher. Stepping out of a secret passageway through a portrait hole into a room full of people ecstatic to see them should have been incredible – only, Harry had a job to do, and a cheering Dumbledore’s Army wasn’t all that welcome. At least, until Ron and Hermione reminded Harry he probably could use the help…
As first-days-of-school go, Hogwarts is definitely king of the castle. Being collected by Hagrid, rowed across a glassy lake, entering an underground harbour through a curtain of ivy, and met at the door by a stern Professor McGonagall is impressive enough, but to then be shown into the Great Hall, with its magical ceiling, array of ghosts and floating candlesticks – well. Maybe it is a bit intimidating for an eleven-year-old, but it’s a lot more fantastic than your average first day of high school. And that’s before we get to the Sorting Ceremony.
Of course, it wasn’t just Harry who had a knack for making an entrance. As Hogwarts prepared to host the Triwizard Tournament, there were two other schools full of students also keen to make their mark. We’re not quite sure which arrival was more spectacular: Beauxbatons, whose delegation arrived in a giant flying powder-blue carriage pulled by a dozen winged horses or Durmstrang, who appeared onboard a giant ship which somehow popped up in the middle of Hogwarts’ lake. Both pretty amazing. Let’s call it a draw.
Order of the Phoenix featured some spectacular exits: Fred and George quitting full-time education by demonstrating their unique new Portable Swamp, Dumbledore leaving Umbridge and her Ministry friends in disarray after he vanished in a blaze of fire whilst gripping onto Fawkes’ tail, Professor Trelawney being forced out of her job. But while others were leaving, one teacher made quite the entrance. Generally speaking Firenze – appointed by Dumbledore to take over Professor Trelawney’s position – was not one for creating a scene, but when you’re a handsome centaur trotting up to a hall full of students ready to take over as Divination professor: well, it’s got ‘scene’ written all over it.
Could there really be any other winner? The Whomping Willow might not have been a fan of Harry and Ron’s arrival aboard Mr. Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia in their second year, but despite all the problems that journey caused them – the Howler from Ron’s mum, Mr. Weasley facing an enquiry at work, the fact that they were spotted by Muggles as they followed the Hogwarts Express to school – the sheer ridiculous recklessness of this arrival means it is our favourite. And we’re not the only ones. As Lee Jordan said:
‘Inspired! What an entrance! Flying a car right into the Whomping Willow, people’ll be talking about that one for years!’
It may not have been very responsible, but it was pretty spectacular.