At least some content in this article is derived from information featured in: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery & Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells & Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore & Harry Potter: Magic Awakened & Hogwarts Legacy.
- "It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles that were floating in midair over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets. At the top of the hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting... The hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight... Harry looked upward and saw a velvety black ceiling dotted with stars... It was hard to believe there was a ceiling there at all, and that the Great Hall didn't simply open on to the heaven."
- — Description of the Great Hall[src]
The Great Hall in the Hogwarts Castle was the main gathering area in the school, which was located off the Entrance Hall. It was a large hall where students and teachers dined and congregated. Three meals a day were hosted in this hall.
The large hall had enough space to hold every student, as well as the main staff and guests. The Hall had tall walls that reached up to the ceiling, which was covered with floating candles and enchanted to look like the sky above.
At the front of the hall was the staff table, also known as the High Table, which was designed to house the entire Hogwarts staff. In the centre of the table was a throne chair where the present Headteacher sat. At the left of the table was a door which led to a chamber with portraits.
The Great Hall had also held many important events, such as the defeat of Lord Voldemort at the hands of Harry Potter, ending the Battle of Hogwarts and the climatic end of the Second Wizarding War.
The Great Hall was a large hall with four long tables where students of each House sat during the day and at mealtimes. The staff table was at the front, where the entire Hogwarts staff sat. There was a throne-like chair in the centre of the table where the current Headmaster or Headmistress sat. The ceiling of the Great Hall was covered with candles and it was enchanted to look like the sky above. To the left of the table was a door which led to a chamber with portraits.
During the Hallowe'en feast, the hall was festooned with sweets-filled pumpkins, bats, orange streamers, water snakes and many other Hallowe'en-related decorations. At Christmas, before and during the holidays, twelve large Christmas trees were placed around the room.
The Start-of-Term Feast was a traditional part of the school year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, held in the Great Hall. The gathering was held on the evening of 1 September, following the arrival of the students from the Hogwarts Express. The Sorting ceremony was held at the beginning, before the Headteacher made their announcement and commenced the meal.
The Hallowe'en Feast at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry occured on the 31 October every year. The Great Hall was decorated with Hallowee'en decor, such as sweet-filled pumpkins, bats, orange streamers and water snakes. At the end, there was entertainment, such as the ghosts of Hogwarts popping up out of the wall and performing formation gliding.
It was a highly anticipated feast which most Hogwarts students look forward to every year.
The Christmas Feast was held on Christmas Day. It was attended by the teachers and any student who had chosen to remain at Hogwarts over the Christmas Holidays. The feast was prepared by the house-elves in the kitchens, and consisted of a hundred fat, roast turkeys, mountains of roasted and boiled potatoes, platters of fat chipolatas, tureens of buttered peas, silver boats of thick, rich gravy and cranberry sauce.
In 1992, Professor Lockhart created the duelling club when the Chamber of Secrets was opened. He was given permission by Headmaster Albus Dumbledore to teach students how to duel, in an attempt to help them learn to protect themselves. Lockhart was joined by Professor Snape, who worked as his assistant. In 1996, the Gryffindor Duelling Club held their gatherings in the Great Hall.
On 14 February 1993, Lockhart decided to organise a "morale-booster" against the gloomy atmosphere generated by the Chamber of Secrets' opening. Come morning of Valentine's Day, Lockhart's "morale-booster" was revealed to be an overly lavish party, mainly for him to garner attention for himself more than to help the school residents regain their confidence.
As the opening of this party, he overly decorated the Great Hall during breakfast with lurid pink flowers, falling heart-shaped confetti, and Lockhart himself dressed in matching pink robes. This vivid scene disgusted the majority of the staff, as well as some male students. However, female students who fawned over Lockhart's charm, were rather excited by this. When Harry first walked into the Great Hall for breakfast, the severe change in decor made him thought he walked through the wrong doors initially.
The tournament was revived at Hogwarts in 1994, and they held the Yule Ball in the Great Hall for fourth year students or above, though younger students could also go if an older student invited them to accompany them. The ball began at 8 pm and ended at midnight.
It started with a meal, with the champions and their partners dining at the head table with the teachers and judges, before the room was transformed into a dance floor. There was also a stage for the performing band.
The class began shortly after the Christmas Holidays and was offered to students who were seventeen, or who will turn seventeen during the school year. The class costed twelve Galleons. It was taught by British Ministry of Magic employee Wilkie Twycross in 1997. Although mainly taught outside, weather conditions meant the lesson had to begin in the Great Hall before they moved out. The Anti-Apparition Charm placed on the entire school was temporarily removed in the Great Hall for students to practise.
Ordinary Wizarding Level Examinations
An O.W.L. (Ordinary Wizarding Level) was a subject-specific test taken during Hogwarts students' Fifth year, administrated by the Wizarding Examinations Authority. The score made by a student on a particular O.W.L. determined whether or not he or she will be allowed to continue taking that subject in subsequent school years.
During these examinations, a giant clock face and a huge swinging pendulum were placed at the far end of the hall in order for students and examiners to keep an eye on the time.
Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests
N.E.W.T.s (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests) were subject-specific exams that seventh year wizards and witches at Hogwarts took to help place them in some careers. As not all wizards passed or even took the N.E.W.T.s, they can find other jobs using their O.W.L. results.
The End-of-Term Feast (or Leaving Feast) was a traditional part of the school year at Hogwarts, held in the Great Hall. It occured on the last night of the term; the Feast was notable for including the awarding of the House Cup to the house with the highest points.
The Fountain of Fair Fortune
Sometime in the early 20th century, when Professor Dippet was Headmaster, the hall was used to host a play version of The Fountain of Fair Fortune. It was directed by Herbert Beery. An hour before the play began, the students playing Amata and Sir Luckless, who were dating, broke up when he left her for the student playing Asha.
As the curtain rose, an Ashwinder started a fire as the girls playing Amata and Asha started fiercely duelling, with Professor Beery getting stuck in the middle. The staff had to evacuate the hall as the fire consumed the hall. Since the play ended in disastrous results, the staff decided never to put one on ever again.
Battle of Hogwarts
On 2 May, 1998 the final battle between Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter took place here as the conclusion to the Battle of Hogwarts and the Second Wizarding War, and became Voldemort's death-place. Shortly before then, the Great Hall was also the place where many other duels took place.
Before Harry duelled Voldemort, Bellatrix Lestrange duelled Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, and Luna Lovegood. At the same time Lord Voldemort duelled Professor McGonagall, Professor Slughorn, and Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Molly Weasley also duelled Bellatrix after the latter nearly murdered her daughter. Molly emerged the victor of this duel. When Voldemort saw this his anger blasted his three adversaries away, but Harry stepped out from under the Invisibility Cloak and took on Voldemort and defeated him.
During moments of peace, it served as a holding area for the dead and wounded and when the battle was over, it was a gathering place for the survivors.
Behind the scenes
- The Great Hall set is arguably the most recognisable set from the Harry Potter films and has a rare distinction in the film industry of being in use for nearly a decade. In those years the set has undergone relatively few changes:
- In the third film, Dumbledore's Owl Lecturn has been added, and there are more floating candles of various shapes and sizes.
- The fourth film sees the most noticeable change to the set in that a second, higher section has been added to the raised wooden platform on which the staff table sits, allowing for the addition of an additional table (presumably for the faculty of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang and the judges for the Triwizard Tournament to sit). Though the second table disappears following the fourth film the second section of the platform remains (although it was removed when the set was put on display for The Making of Harry Potter).
- The addition of the Viaduct Courtyard in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film) brought about a major inconsistency between the exterior model and interior set that remained unfixed in both the films and video games until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. With the re-design of the front entrance to resemble the Clock Tower and its courtyard, the design team forgot to include stairs leading up to the Great Hall's elevated position that had been previously been represented by the Chamber of Reception. The floor level of the Great Hall is between the short and tall sets of windows. The short windows below the Great Hall had been originally designed for the Hogwarts kitchens, but that area was not seen in the films. The lack of stairs means that anyone walking through the new entrance would "magically" teleport up to the first floor, which is where the windows corresponding with the interior sets of the Entrance Hall and Great Hall were. The video games hid this issue by using different textures for the interior and exterior areas so they could exist at the same time. The issue was fixed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 by inverting the window positions so that the taller windows that matched the floor of the interior sets were on the bottom of the model and then the smaller windows were on top (which completely removed the original intention of the smaller windows being for the Kitchens). However, it still was not fixed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game). This issue has proven to be catastrophic to fan-made models of the castle, notably those made in Minecraft, because it almost always resulted in the interior areas not being made correctly.
- Despite being categorised as being on the Ground Floor, the Great Hall was portrayed in the films as being on the First Floor until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
- The door behind the staff tables leads to a staircase, shown in the first film, which is architecturally impossible because the exterior wall is directly against the back wall of the Great Hall. This staircase could only be supported by magic, and is not possible to include on fan-made models of the castle without modifying the design somehow.
- The design for the Great Hall set in the films was based on the dining hall at Christ Church, Oxford. The art made for Pottermore also appears to do the same.
- While Hogwarts itself is based upon real castles is the UK, there was, obviously, a great deal of creative licence taken. The ceiling in the great hall, for example, is shown as having what is known as a hammer beam construction. The design was developed in the UK hundreds of years ago and used primarily in cathedrals, palaces, and royal homes. However, the weight of the ceiling, particularly under wind or snow load, would push the walls outward and collapse in on itself. Therefore, we must imagine the enchantment is not merely aesthetic but structural as well.
- The enchanted ceiling is only seen once during the daytime in the films (the majority of the time it simply being absent), however in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, during the fifth year O.W.L exams, the sky can be clearly be seen as blue with a few clouds when Fred and George's fireworks go off.
- Bellatrix Lestrange also wrecked the Great Hall in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but this must have been a detour as Draco Malfoy, Severus Snape, Fenrir Grayback, Amycus Carrow, Alecto Carrow and Thorfinn Rowle walked from the Astronomy Tower to Hagrid's Hut, the Great Hall is not between these two locations, and from the way they were exiting means they must have either come from the back of the Great Hall or the Trophy Room. This most likely is an error in the film or that the production decided to include another secret passage.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Harry and Voldemort duel at the Entrance Courtyard instead of the Great Hall, although the duel between Bellatrix Lestrange and Molly Weasley still takes place here.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Headmaster Severus Snape held a spontaneous assembly, which every Hogwarts student attended, to inform them that Harry Potter had recently been sighted in Hogsmeade, and that helping him enter the castle would result in severe punishment. To this, Harry himself stepped forward from the crowd, accusing Professor Snape of murdering Albus Dumbledore. This ultimately resulted in the duel between Professor Snape and McGonagall, and then in the sacking of Professor Snape.
- PopCo, a toy company, has made a Great Hall playset available in stores in 2007. The figures that go with this set are all 3.75 inch tall. The figures are Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, Cho Chang, Luna Lovegood, Ginny Weasley, Draco Malfoy, Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Albus Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid, Severus Snape, Dolores Umbridge, Argus Filch, Minerva McGonagall, Mad-Eye Moody, Voldemort, Bellatrix Lestrange, Fenrir Greyback, Young Tom Riddle, Dementors, Death Eaters, Sirius Black, Grawp, Magorian, Bane, Thestral, Kreacher, Death Eater dummy, Fang, Mrs Norris, Hedwig, Sorting Hat, Patronus, Nagini and many, many more accessories."
- In the second part film adaption of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, half of the Great Hall was blown up due to the battle. Because of this, instead of three towers at the top of the Great Hall, there were only two left.
- In the books and the films, the arrangement of each house table changes throughout each year. It is Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff which is closest to the doors, from the perspective of the teachers table. However, during the Triwizard Tournament, Harry walked between the tables of Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, Fleur Delacour walked between the tables of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, while Slytherin table is closest to the doors. Throughout the films, the layout changes every year but in their own way.
- In the books, it's implied that there are multiple doors in the Great Hall which lead into various side chambers, though in the films there is only one behind the staff table which leads into the Trophy Room.
- For its brief appearance in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the Great Hall was recreated digitally, though the actual set, which is currently on display for public viewing, was used as a reference.
- Additionally, when the Great Hall set was being photographed for the digital recreation, it was noted that the stone floor had been cleaned and polished, whereas in the films the floor was dirty and dusty. As a result, the visual effects team had to modify the digital recreation of the hall so that the floor looked dusty.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- LEGO Dimensions
- LEGO Harry Potter
- Wizarding World
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
- Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells
- Harry Potter: Magic Awakened
- Hogwarts Legacy
Notes and references
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 7 (The Sorting Hat)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 8 (The Potions Master)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 10 (Hallowe'en)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 17 (The Four Champions)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 36 (The Flaw in the Plan)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 12 (The Mirror of Erised)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 11 (The Duelling Club)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 13 (The Very Secret Diary)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 23 (The Yule Ball)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 18 (Birthday Surprises)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 31 (O.W.L.s)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) - Chapter 23 (O.W.L.S.)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17 (The Man with Two Faces)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard - "The Fountain of Fair Fortune"
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 31 (The Battle of Hogwarts)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 8 (Flight of the Fat Lady)
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
- Harry Potter Film Wizardry