Harry Potter spent his summers away from Hogwarts back with the Dursleys. Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and horrible Dudley made Harry’s life a living hell before he discovered he was a wizard. Things changed for the better once he left for Hogwarts, but time with the Dursleys remained a struggle for the Boy Who Lived.
Some summers were uneventful, spent mostly in his room away from the Dursley’s prying eyes. Others were considerably worse, especially those during which Harry lost his temper with his aunt and uncle or got attacked by the many members of the wizarding community hellbent on taking him down.
Harry’s seventh and final summer break marks his departure from the Dursleys, who abandon their home and go into hiding to escape Voldemort’s threat. After a surprisingly heartfelt goodbye from them, Harry goes to the Burrow and attends Bill and Fleur’s wedding, but Death Eaters crash the party, forcing Harry, Ron and Hermione to go on the run.
Despite spending some quality time with the Weasleys in the Burrow, Voldemort is a nearly constant presence in Harry’s mind. Furthermore, he is responsible for hunting for Voldemort’s dangerous and evil Horcruxes, and he has no idea where to begin his quest. Finally, he won’t attend his final year at Hogwarts, and the war becomes worse every day. All in all, Harry has a pretty bad time this summer.
The first summer after Voldemort’s return is a dark time for Harry. He spends most of his time alone listening to muggle news about strange attacks or events. The Wizarding World is against him, with Fudge launching a public campaign against him. When he and Dudley get attacked by a group of Dementors, Harry uses magic to defend themselves, leading to a trial where the Ministry will determine the severity of his crime.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is arguably the darkest time in Harry’s life. Still deeply traumatized by Cedric’s murder, Harry isolates himself from everyone while stressing about Voldemort’s return. Harry certainly had a terrible summer considering all that was going on in his life and the dangerous things that happened.
During Harry’s third summer break, the Dursleys receive a visit from Uncle Vernon’s cruel sister, Aunt Marge. She is dismissive of Harry, often insulting him and his parents to his face without any consideration. Harry eventually loses his temper and uses his magic to turn her into a balloon in one of the most inspired sequences of the entire saga.
Beyond the hilarity of the situation, Harry should’ve been in serious trouble for his actions: indeed, he thinks he’ll be expelled from Hogwarts and will have to spend his life on the run, leading him to seek refuge in the fan-favorite Knight Bus. However, Sirius Black’s escape has the Ministry fearing for Harry’s life, leading them to forgive his crime and act as if nothing was wrong. Harry suffered considerable abuse from Aunt Marge, but at least he didn’t go to jail, and that’s something.
Harry’s first summer back with the Dursleys is mainly calm and uneventful. That is until Dobby the house-elf appears in his room, warning him not to return to Hogwarts. Dobby then ruins an important meeting by dropping a cake on Uncle Vernon’s boss’ wife. Enraged, the Dursleys lock Harry in his room, but Ron and his brothers rescue him with the flying Ford Anglia and take him to the Burrow.
Before Dobby’s arrival, Harry’s summer is surprisingly calm. He even gets a room to himself, finally moving out of the cellar. The elf’s visit complicates things and risks Harry’s return to Hogwarts. However, the elf unintentionally improves Harry’s summer by leading him to the Burrow and the Weasleys, his found family, who he grows to love deeply.
Before Hagrid walks into his life bearing life-changing news, Harry has a miserable existence. His aunt and uncle mistreat him, and his cousin tortures him mercilessly. Harry has no friends and believes no one loves or even cares about him. Hagrid’s news change his life forever, and he leaves with the giant for the magical yet nonsensical Diagon Alley, getting his first look at the wizarding world.
Because Harry spends all his summer with the Dursleys, fans can guess it was probably as bad as the ones that came before. However, Hagrid arrives and rescues Harry from misery and takes him to his new life. Harry’s entrance to the wizarding world has to be a highlight of his life, incredible enough to make him forget everything that came before.
Following Sirius’ escape, Harry has newfound hope of having a proper family one day. His godfather has to clear his name first, but at least there’s a chance. Harry attends the Quidditch World Cup with the Weasleys, experiencing the thrill of his favorite sport in all its violent glory. Things take a turn for the worst when Death Eaters attack the camp, but everything had gone smoothly until then.
Harry is passionate about quidditch, and attending the World Cup had been an ambition of his. He has a great time with the Weasleys and Hermione, at least until the Death Eaters attack and he collapses from the pain following the appearance of the Dark Mark. Still, at least most of the summer was great.
Harry’s sixth summer break is arguably the calmest of his school days. The wizarding world is at last aware of Voldemort’s return, and Harry’s reputation is no longer a target of the Ministry. Furthermore, he spends only a few days with the Dursleys because Dumbledore arrives to take him to the Burrow. On their way, they stop by Horace Slughorn’s house and convince him to return to Hogwarts.
Most of Harry’s summers are bad, even after becoming a wizard. However, his time off before his sixth year is surprisingly uneventful. The Dursleys don’t even bother him as much anymore, and even Dudley seems to have mellowed down. Sure, Voldemort is back, and the war is officially afoot, but at least he had some calm before the storm.
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