Harry Potter spellbound fans wait up late for Cursed Child
Hundreds of Harry Potter fans queued until midnight on Saturday to get their hands on the latest instalment in the phenomenally popular series.
People dressed as witches and wizards waited outside Waterstones on Belfast's Fountain Street from as early as 5.30pm to get their hands on a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Branch manager Fiona O'Hare said staff and fans really got into the spirit of things and had a blast at the launch party.
"We had around 400 people throughout the night," she explained. "Initially, there were around 150 people queueing from 5.30pm before a party between 10pm and midnight, and then the book was on sale at midnight.
"The queue went all the way down from our shop towards City Hall. People were frantic to get in, and we gave a prize for the best fancy dress.
"On the night we sold just over 300 copies, and today we have sold another 386.
"It is going to be the number one book of the summer. It is the biggest selling book of this year so far.
"It has actually beaten Go Set a Watchman (Harper Lee's eagerly awaited follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird) for first-day sales.
"That was released last summer and sold 400 on the day, but we will have sold more than that by the end of today."
"The atmosphere was brilliant and the place was buzzing. We served refreshments and we had butterbeer, potions and different cakes and Harry Potter-themed sweets.
"We had wand-making classes, we had Trivial Pursuit and a quiz game, and members of the Emerald Garrison (a local Star Wars fan club) attended in Harry Potter costumes."
There were also queues and entertainment at Eason's in the city's Donegall Place for its midnight launch.
Billy Sheridan, release supervisor at the shop, said: "There was a very good turnout and it went very well. There were about 300 in attendance. We opened at 10.30pm and the book could not be bought until midnight.
"It is selling very well today. There were prizes given out for the best-dressed. There is a massive fanbase. We had one of the owls from one of the films, which was a really big attraction. It was in the Philosopher's Stone.
"It was very popular, even among staff who had their picture taken with it. The whole night was a big success for us."
Entertainment was provided by interactive street performers Babcock and Bobbins and Godwin Bumblestorm. There were also magic tricks performed by Caolan McBride.
Ethan Roddy, Rachel Smith, Colm McKee and Emer McKee were among the award winners on the night, scooping prizes for their fancy dress costumes.
The book is the first Harry Potter story since 2007, but is not a novel. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the script for a stage play, written by the playwright Jack Thorne and based on a story devised in collaboration with JK Rowling and director John Tiffany. The show, split into two parts, opened on Saturday to rave reviews.
Set 19 years after the events of the seventh and final book, it sees Harry as a grown man working at the Ministry of Magic.
He and his wife Ginny Weasley wave their youngest son Albus Severus - named after former Hogwarts headmaster Professor Dumbledore and potions teacher Professor Snape - off to their old wizarding school. Once there, Albus struggles with the weight of his family's legacy and goes to extreme lengths to right the wrongs of the past.
The two-part play stretches over five hours.