This is a big year for Harry Potter fans.
There have been no Potter movies for the past 10 years – Deathly Hallows was the last in 2011 – and now the cast has reunited to reminisce over the glorious two decade-long reign of the boy wizard and his motley crew.
Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts is required viewing for aficionados, airing New Year’s Day on Sky, Now and HBO Max.
The film franchise, worth more than £20 billion, has served to draw the glories of Scotland’s Highlands to the attention of millions of viewers, and rewarded – or cursed – the areas featured in the movies with thousands of extra tourists each year.
JK Rowling didn’t specify in her books that Hogwarts is in Scotland, but she’s stated in interviews that that’s what she imagined.
She’s also put on record her love of train journeys, so for the film’s producers, everything fell into place when they found they could take Harry Potter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry along one of the world’s iconic trail journeys, from Fort William to Mallaig.
Not only that, but Scotland hosts the perfect steam train for the job, The Jacobite Express rapidly became the Hogwarts Express.
Seeing the train cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct had such a powerful impact on fans that thousands started making pilgrimages to the site each year, more than 350,000 at the last count.
They caused such mayhem in the tiny village of Glenfinnan that villagers had to create a car park to calm down the chaotic scenes as fans pour in twice a day in summer to watch the train come over the viaduct.
The tiny village station swarms with wannabe wizards, young and old, and even has its own broomstick.
Glenfinnan sits at the top of Loch Sheil, another glorious feature in the films as part of Hogwarts Great Lake.
Here lurked the Giant Squid and the merpeople.
It’s the loch you see in sweeping views from the Astronomy Tower, and the backdrop for Buckbeak’s flight.
And who can forget one of the most action-packed scenes in the whole Harry Potter series when Ron, Harry and Hermione break into Gringotts Bank and escape on the back of a Ukrainian Ironbelly?
After a long flight north, they finally take a dive into a spectacular body of water.
Loch Arkaig in Lochaber, normally home to ospreys in the summer, is where they land.
The loch is blended with Loch Eilt, between Glenfinnan and Lochailort, to become Dumbledore’s final resting place, and Voldemort takes the Elder Wand from him.
Eagle-eyed viewers can spot Steall Falls in Glen Nevis as the backdrop for Harry’s struggle with the dragon in Goblet of Fire.
Hagrid’s hut, and home to his half-giant self, is in Glencoe, while the stunning Rannoch Moor is transformed into a dark and gloomy place in The Deathly Hallows, Part One.
It’s at Courrour Station, at the end of Rannoch Moor, that the Death Eaters board the Hogwarts Express.
Meanwhile, the north-east also features prominently throughout the books as Rowling gave a nod to her Scottish roots after drafting her first novels in an Edinburgh café.
In the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, chapter three, Harry Potter whizzes through Aberdeen during his first trip on the Knight Bus (a triple-decker).
The bus moves abruptly, making Harry spill his hot chocolate in the 1999 book.
Aberdeen and the Quidditch connection
Magical beasts activist Modesty Rabnott moves to Aberdeen in Quidditch Through The Ages, a companion book written by Rowling in 2008, which is meant to be one of the library books found in Hogwarts.
Mentioned in the book is Modesty – a witch known for her protests against using a little yellow bird for the game of Quidditch.
Her sister Prudence lived in Aberdeen, according to a 13th Century letter on display in the Museum of Quidditch.
Cast members in the special
It remains to be seen whether Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) will make any comments about the locations in the new release.
Other cast members due to return include Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Bonnie Wright, Gary Oldman, Imelda Staunton, Tom Felton, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Mark Williams, Alfred Enoch, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, and more.
JK Rowling herself appears in the special through archived footage.