'Sup? Tad here! One thing I love about Universal Orlando Resort is that the parks take on a completely different life at night. From the magnificent nighttime eruptions of Krakatau in Volcano Bay to the epic fountains and projections of Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration at Universal Studios Florida, Universal knows how to send frogs home with a smile on their face. My favorite nighttime spectacular, though, is over in Universal's Islands of Adventure. Almost every night throughout the year, visitors flock to Hogwarts Castle in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade to represent their houses and watch in awe as the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry lights up in a truly magical display.
Throughout the year, there are three different shows that wizards and muggles alike can enjoy projected onto the castle: one for the majority of year, one for Halloween and one for the holiday season. Each of them is dazzling in its own way and definitely worth checking out! Let me be your honorary Astronomy professor as we turn our attention to the night skies and examine what makes each show in Hogsmeade so utterly enchanting. Say it with me now: Lumos!
The Magical Nighttime Shows at Hogwarts Castle
On select nights in spring and summer, Hogwarts Castle illuminates in a marvelous celebration of the school's four famed houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw (woohoo!) and Slytherin. This six-minute, projection-mapped show features narration from the Sorting Hat himself and familiar music by the iconic John Williams.
Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle
On select nights from Sept. 16 to Oct. 31, 2022, Death Eaters, Dementors, mountain trolls, Inferi, Aragog the Acromantula and the Dark Lord himself take over the halls of Hogwarts in a nine-minute projection show that's sure to strike fear into the hearts of even the bravest of wizards and witches. Can you cast a powerful enough Patronus charm to fend off the dark forces?
Voldemort's Army isn't just confined to the castle, though. Typically on nights the projection show plays, Death Eaters descend on Hogsmeade — cloaked in ominous green light and fog — and work their wicked magic. One of my favorite things to do during spooky season is duel against these loyal minions. Be sure to have your wand ready!
The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle
The most wonderful time of the year gets even more magical when Hogwarts (and all of Hogsmeade) gets decked out for Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Playing every evening from Nov. 12 to Jan. 1, 2022, The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle is a seven-minute show featuring a stunning Christmas tree, caroling ghosts, the grand and beautiful Yule Ball, some unfortunate snowmen and an obligatory advertisement for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.
Our Top Tips for Viewing the Nighttime Shows at Hogwarts Castle
- No matter the season, the nighttime shows at Hogwarts begin once the sun sets and repeat approximately every 20 minutes until the park closes.
- The nighttime shows can operate in the rain. However, they will be canceled or delayed if there's severe weather in the area.
- Once performances start, the entranceway from The Lost Continent turns into Hogsmeade's only entrance. If you're seeing the show, the pathway to Jurassic Park near the Forbidden Journey lockers becomes your only exit. Keep that in mind as you're closing out your day.
- Once you enter Hogsmeade, you'll see different routes to get you to both the rides and the shows' viewing area. Be sure to follow Team Member instructions to get to where you want to go!
- Hogwarts Castle is a towering structure and the projection shows cover all of the building's various nooks and crannies. You by no means need to be all the way up front to get a "good seat". (In quotes because you do need to stand for the duration of the show.) You can see it perfectly from anywhere in the main viewing area near the Frog Choir/Triwizard Spirit Rally stage.
- After each performance, the audience gets funneled out and a new crowd gets funneled in. Because of this, the final performances of the night are always going to be the least crowded and the easiest to get into. I mean, I know I can't think of a better way to end the night!
- Be aware that the nighttime shows at Hogwarts shine with their projection-mapped displays and are mainly confined to the castle. There are pyrotechnics but only briefly at the very end of each performance. If you're looking for a more full fireworks display, be sure to check out Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration over at Universal Studios.
- All the rides in Hogsmeade are still operational during the various shows, and wait times are normally very low! I toadally recommend hopping on Flight of the Hippogriff during a performance to get a unique and amazing view.
Which nighttime show at Hogwarts Castle are you most excited to see? If you've seen them all, which one is your favorite? Share with us in the comments below!