London for Harry Potter Fans
As a fantasy fiction fanatic, I’d spent years of my life entranced by the realms of Middle Earth, Winterfell and Tigana. No surprise then, that when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone appeared on shelves in 1997, I fully embraced Hogwarts and London’s magical parallel world. Embarrassingly, I think I recall being shushed for shouting at the screen in excitement when I recognised Leadenhall market in the very first film. Chances are, you’re one of the 450 million* others captivated by Harry Potter, and quite possibly one of the people who shushed me in that cinema. Either way, you’ll love this five step guide to London for Harry Potter fans!
1. Stay in the Wizard Chambers at The Georgian House Hotel
A short walk from Buckingham Palace Road, The Georgian House Hotel has transformed their extension into an enchanting Hogwarts dorm. Spurred on by a challenge to inspire Harry Potter lovers, their imaginative interior decorator visited countless antiques auctions, cobbling together the most wonderful curios, ironmongery and furniture for the ‘Wizard Chambers’. The result is tasteful, cosy and evocative. The are rooms decorated with original apothecary bottles, wrought iron scales, wooden chests, Hogwarts-style tapestries, antique desks and magnificent four-poster beds. As far as hotels go, it’s in a great location and is one of the rare family-run boutique hotels around. For fans, there is simply nothing else like it.
2. Visit Platform 9¾ at London King’s Cross
Besides being a swish new redevelopment, London’s King’s Cross is home to Platform 9¾**, where Harry and his fellow students caught the Hogwarts Express. They say that if you believe hard enough, you can run straight through the brick wall to the platform… but you might want to shield your face just in case it doesn’t quite work out.
With building work going on, Platform 9¾ has kept moving around, but you should spot it on the Western Departures concourse. Keep an eye out for the sign and half a luggage trolley sticking out of the wall.
3. Take a Walking Tour of Top Film Locations
Ever wondered where Hagrid took Harry to get his first wand and other school supplies? Or where the Ministry of Magic really was? Muggle Tours and London Walks both run engaging and well researched Harry Potter themed walking tours, visiting film locations like my shout-worthy Diagon Alley at Leadenhall Market. The tour guides tend to be clever storytellers and dramatists, and their heads are filled with way too much Harry Potter trivia, so it’s a great outing for genuine enthusiasts.
4. Sneak a Peek Behind the Scenes
Want to see what went into the making of the staggeringly successful film series? Warner Bros Studio Tours offers film buffs a unique behind-the-scenes look at the Harry Potter movies, with animatronic creatures, detailed sets, props, and costumes. There is even a beautiful hand-sculpted model of Hogwarts Castle, complete with teeny tiny lanterns, hinged doors, miniature birds of prey, and tiny replicas of the castle courtyards.
There is a Harry Potter themed coach to the studio every hour from Victoria station.
5. Leave Muggledom Behind
By now you’ll be itching to try your hand at some magic tricks to prove that you’re more than a Muggle! Try Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Museum, a short walk from Tottenham Court Road. It’s a delightfully nostalgic alternative to Hamley’s, though be warned that all the creepy marionettes will definitely give you nightmares.
As and when your friends get tired of your floating napkin trick, take them to see the pros instead - Magic Cavern in Baron’s Court has magic and illusion shows every Sunday afternoon throughout the year. The Magic Circle (the most prestigious magic club in the world) hosts mind-boggling shows by top magicians.
** Map Showing Platform 9¾: http://londonist.com/2012/03/new-kings-cross-map-shows-platform-9-34.php
Main image copyright of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc
Diagon Alley - Image copyright of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc
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Click here to see more articles by Janis...Thanks to her two boisterous rascals, Janis is the expert on glitter glue, stick collecting, rainy days out with kids, and which family movies have the most deliciously despicable baddies. Her website ReallyKidFriendly.com has been nominated for 9 awards, and with good reason – you’ll find 10,000 local events and activities every month, honest reviews by real mums and dads, film previews, prize draws and the best handpicked stories from around the web. Janis can normally be spotted in North London trying (and failing) to outsmart her kids. Say hello: @kidfriendly_uk Click here to see more articles by Janis.