We have all been held spellbound by the magic of Harry Potter (written by J.K. Rowling) & his friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the last year. It all started with Shea becoming enchanted with their magic. He spent nearly every moment of our drive, last summer, from Denver to Montreal & back again reading book after book of the series. All the talk and excitement of the book tricked down to his little brothers, and ever since the fall we have been reading the series out loud at bedtime. Little did I know this would work to my advantage as we prepare for our international move. As to be expected, the boys are excited and a little apprehensive about such a big move to a strange place. Two of them are handling the transition better than the other one. The great thing is they can all be motivated/cheered up by bribery 🙂 We found that when booking our tickets it is no more expensive to spend a few days in London before flying into Germany, what a perfect opportunity to start our move off with a mini vacation to the magical world of Harry Potter (AKA bribing the kids with a vacation to start our move!)
Not only is London an amazing city, it will let the boys explore some of the locations that were used in the film/talked about in the stories. Although we certainly won’t see all these places, here are some of the places we might see on our Harry Potter tour of London:
London Zoo – Visit the site where Harry talked to snake when he was visiting the zoo with the Dursleys
Kings Cross Station – Here is where Harry & his friends disappeared through the brick wall at platform 9 and 3/4 to catch the Hogwarts Express to school.
Australia House on The Strand in London – your kids will tell you it’s really Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
St Pancras International – located next door to King’s Cross Station and known as London’s favourite “Destination Station”, Outside you’ll see the Neo-Gothic facade of St Pancras where the Weasley’s magical Ford Anglia takes off in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Piccadilly Circus – One of the most memorable scenes in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I where we see Harry, Hermione and Ron rushing through London’s West End was filmed in Piccadilly Circus.
Millennium Bridge – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opens with a dramatic sequence of the London Millennium Footbridge collapsing. A pedestrian-only steel suspension bridge crossing River Thames, the Millennium Bridge links Bankside with the City and offers dramatic views of St Paul’s Cathedral as you walk from the south side to the north.
Charing Cross Road – The Leaky Cauldron pub and inn for wizards, which serves as a gateway between the non-wizarding world and Diagon Alley is located on the Muggle street of Charing Cross Road in London’s West End. Charing Cross Road is renowned for its specialist and second-hand bookshops and more general second-hand and antiquarian shops giving the street an intriguing charm.
Leadenhall Market – Leadenhall Market in the City of London was used as Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The entrance to wizard’s pub, the Leaky Cauldron, is an optician in Bull’s Head Passage in Leadenhall Market. Leadenhall is a superb example of a Victorian covered market with an ornate painted roof.
We won’t make it to these attractions outside of London, but for those traveling outside of London, here are some more locations that shared in the magic of Harry Potter.
Oxford – Bodleian Library at Oxford University appears in the movie as Hogwarts dining room and library. The Great Hall of Christ Church College “is” Hogwarts School, a pleasure that sure to make young eyes sparkle. There’s a double literary thrill to coming here: Lewis Carroll was inspired to write Alice in Wonderland while looking out these very windows.
Gloucester Cathedral – Gloucester Cathedral is an example of Gothic architecture at its best and avid fans will recognize many exteriors from the movie (students of the King’s School next door were extras.) Don’t miss a photographic exhibit which shows how the cloisters were transformed for the film.
Lacock Abbey (Lacock, near Devizes, Wiltshire) – Another wonderful place to visit is Lacock, the medieval town that is home to 13th century Lacock Abbey, used for interior scenes of Hogwarts School.
Goathland (near Grosmont, Yorkshire) – The village of Goathland on the Yorkshire Moors has a train station that’s been virtually unchanged for 135 years. This makes it the ideal location to recreate “Hogsmeade Station,” end of the line for the Hogwarts Express. Best of all? You can catch a steam train like the Hogwarts Express for 18 miles that run through the spectacular North Yorkshire Moors.
With so many choices, what Harry Potter locations would you make sure to see?