Can you believe it’s been more than 20 year since the first Harry Potter film was released? Two whole decades since our first outing with the boy wizard on the big screen. I know, pass us that time turner, Hermione, because we’re getting old. However, in the best news since Voldy’s death hit The Daily Prophet, the cast are reuniting for a one-off special to be broadcast on New Year’s Day 2022 on America’s HBO Max.
While we await more information on the reunion, there’s plenty for Potterheads do in London. From official Harry Potter tours and attractions, to film locations and unofficial ‘wizard-themed’ experiences, here’s where to get your Potter fix…
The best Harry Potter places in London
1. Go for a Harry Potter-inspired afternoon tea
Conveniently located walking distance from the Palace Theatre, the basement of Cutter & Squidge, a bakery in Soho, has turned into an unofficial ‘Potion Room.’ Expect magical refreshments, colourful drinks, robes, wands and more. Find out more here.
2. See ‘Harry Potter & The Cursed Child’ at the Palace Theatre
This two-part play, set nineteen years after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, cast a spell over the West End when it opened five years ago. Since then, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has picked up a record-breaking amount of Olivier awards, survived a pandemic closure of all theatres in the West End, and welcomed a whole new cast to the stage. Expect powerful performances and brilliant on-stage illusions as you re-encounter your favourite characters all grown up.
Located on the very edge of London, you can visit the real film studios where the Harry Potter series was filmed, and explore the original sets, from Diagon Alley and the Forbidden Forest to Hogwarts itself. The level of detail at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is incredible – even members of your party unfamiliar with the film will find the craftsmanship on show genuinely fascinating. The best times to visit are Halloween and Christmas, when sets are decorated for the season (you can even enjoy a genuine feast in the Great Hall!). Find out more here.
4. Have a sleepover in the Wizarding Chambers
Visiting the city and crazy for all things Harry Potter? Go the extra mile with this unofficial but distinctly Hogwartsian hotel room at Georgian House. Expect stained glass windows, stone walls, archways, trunks, cauldrons, and four-poster beds hung with velvet curtains, all hidden behind a secret bookcase door. You can also rent any DVD you want to watch. (Hmm, I wonder which popular fantasy series you’ll pick.) Book it here.
5. Get that photo at Platform 9¾
A cute freebie for passing Potter fans, a luggage trolly embedded in the wall at London’s Kings Cross station gives us all the chance to take that first step on our journey to Hogwarts. A nearby Harry Potter gift shop gives you the opportunity to buy your own wand. Potterheads also gather here on September 1 each year, which is the traditional day for new students to catch the Hogwarts Express.
6. Show what you know at a Harry Potter pub quiz
In a city as big as London, there are always committed Potterheads looking to show off their accumulated knowledge, and a quick Google session can usually reveal an upcoming themed quiz in a pub somewhere in the city.
7. Experience a Harry Potter-inspired escape room
This tricksy escape room near Liverpool Street will require all your bravery, cunning, and intelligence to magic your way out of an interactive room, before you’re caught by He Who Must Not Be Named. (OK, it’s not technically Harry Potter themed, but fans of the books will find a lot to love here.) The game, created by Enigma Quests, lasts an hour, and is suitable for groups of 3–5 wizards or witches. Find out more here.
8. Go on a Harry Potter walking tour
London is steeped in Potter history, with several iconic locations from the films to visit. Guided walks will take you between them and point out some lesser-known sights you might recognise. There are several competing providers; the route masters at Evans Evans sightseeing tours and the Tour for Muggles are two well-regarded options. Or, take yourself to Leadenhall Market, the magical London market with a wonderful history of wizards and muggles.
9. Marvel at some of the graphic art from the Harry Potter movies
This mesmerising gallery in Soho allows you to admire all the amazing graphic art from the Harry Potter movies. Make your way through four floors of designs at House of MinaLima, from the Harry Potter film series and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, to a number of illustrated fairy tale books. There is also a shop where guests can purchase graphic prints, as well as various accessories and stationery. You’ll find House of MinaLima at 26 Greek Street, Soho. See more here.
10. BONUS: Head up north for Harry Potter: The Forbidden Forest Experience*
A great getaway from the The Big Smoke, Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience in Cheshire (about an hour from Manchester) will bring your favourite moments from both Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts to life. Set amidst the beautiful grounds of Arley Hall & Gardens, the hour-or-so nighttime experience will quite literally add a little bit of magic to your evening, as you get the chance to conjure a Patronus and recreate iconic moments yourself along the trail. Book your tickets here.
*The Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience is not currently running, but you can sign up the waitlist to be first in line for the ticket drop when it returns!
Also published on Medium.