2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter book series. To celebrate, why not take an immersive Harry Potter tour to some of the quintessential sites of the films? Here are a few of our Potter fan favorite experiences in U.K. Get ready for your imagination to take flight.
Discover Harry’s London on a magic-revealing private tour through the city. See the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron and walk along the alleyways and medieval winding roads that were JK Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley. You will also receive exclusive access to the visitor’s entrance and later to the staff entrance of the Ministry of Magic. It was here that the golden trio entered the ministry under the guise of polyjuice potion – although we don’t recommend trying to flush yourself down the toilet! Later, see the bridges that members of the Order of the Phoenix fly their broomsticks over en-route to Grimmauld Place, and several of the locations where Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters wreaked havoc, including the Millennium Bridge which they destroyed in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Platform 9 ¾
An essential pilgrimage for any young witch or wizard is a stop at the singular Platform 9 ¾ in King’s Cross Station. Visit King’s Cross Station to have your photo taken as you try your luck at getting through the wall to Platform 9 ¾. Afterward, pass St. Pancras International. The station’s neo-gothic façade is where Harry and Ron took to the sky in the Weasley’s Ford Anglia.
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone
For two nights only – on May 12 and May 13 – the Royal Philharmonic orchestra will perform John Williams’ score live as Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone is beamed onto a 40-foot screen at the Royal Albert Hall. Ker & Downey can also arrange a London itinerary including much sought after tickets to Harry Potter and The Cursed Child at The Palace Theatre.
Warner Bros. Studios
True Potterites cannot visit the United Kingdom without a stop at Warner Bros Studios, the place that brought J. K. Rowling’s famous saga to life. It’s is located in Leavesden just outside of London. The enchanting studios bring this extraordinary world to life. Explore the astonishingly detailed sets, stunning costumes, props, and animatronics. You will have the opportunity to walk the original stone floor of the iconic Hogwarts Great Hall, encounter some well-known creatures, and wander down Diagon Alley. Discover the magic behind Harry Potter and experience a ride on a broomstick, or allow a wand to choose you in Ollivander’s wand shop. In the backlot, between wandering the exterior sets – such as number No. 4 Privet Drive and the Hogwarts Bridge, take the opportunity to enjoy a frothy Butterbeer, a non-alcoholic beverage reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch.
The Real Hogwarts
There were many sources of inspiration behind Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ker & Downey is dedicated to revealing them all. Outside of London, travelers will find enchantment in Oxford, famous the world over as the City of Dreaming Spires. Its inspiring history is nowhere more apparent than in Christ Church College, where Harry Potter fans will undoubtedly recognize the Great Hall as the inspiration behind Hogwarts’ own Great Hall.
Nearby in Gloucester is the Gloucester Cathedral, a medieval marvel which was transformed into the corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Many scenes from the film were staged here, including the troll scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the location where Moaning Myrtle flooded the girls’ bathroom in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the exact spot where the fateful words ‘The chamber of secrets has been opened’ appeared, and the corridor which led to the Gryffindor Common Room.
Finally, another key Hogwarts site is Alnwick Castle. Proudly known as “the Windsor of the North,” Alnwick stood in for Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films. Here you can truly experience a taste of life as a Hogwarts student. Join the castle’s resident wizarding professors to take part in a broomstick training session, on the very spot where Harry had his first ever lesson in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Hogwarts Express Steam Train
Jump on board one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. Your ride may seem familiar, as the steam train line doubled as the route for the Hogwarts Express! Along the way, you will travel over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, one of the most recognizable engineering marvels in the country towering over the Loch Shiel. The gorgeous loch was also used as a stand-in for Hogwarts Lake. Here, Buckbeak dipped a toe in the water in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry and Hermione looked out across it from the Astronomy Tower at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. For the ultimate muggle-friendly adventure, pair this 84-mile train journey with a hunt for the elusive Loch Ness Monster aboard a luxury Highlands motor cruiser. Perhaps you will catch a glimpse of one of the loch’s elusive residents: the Loch Ness Monster herself, or a “kelpie” (water horse), which plays a strong role in Scottish folklore as well as J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Edinburgh – the Home of JK Rowling
Edinburgh is perhaps best known as the home of JK Rowling, and where she both began and finished her Harry Potter saga. See the city through her eyes, whether from the North British Station Hotel, where JK Rowling finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (she even signed a bust in the suite where she wrote it) or from one of the two café bars that both claim to be where she wrote most of the first two Harry Potter books. Nearby, Tom Riddle’s grave is a significant site, complete with a snake and the engraving “Non Omnis Moriar” (‘Not all of me will die’) – widely speculated to be Rowling’s inspiration for Horcruxes.
Whether it’s visiting Tom Riddle’s gravestone in Edinburgh or jumping on board the Harry Potter Steam Train for a journey on the Hogwarts Express route, be sure to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter book series with a Ker & Downey adventure that is as memorable as it is magical.
We think your whole family will enjoy a Harry Potter tour through some of the iconic spots in the series. To add a Harry Potter tour to your next Ker & Downey journey, contact your Luxury Travel Consultant. Stay up to date with all our online content, follow up on Facebook and Twitter.