11 Awesome Stops That Should Be on Every Harry Potter Fan's Vacation List
Love Harry Potter? Love traveling? Then we have a bucket list for you.
1. COLLEGE OF WIZARDRY // CZOCHA, POLAND
This LARP (or live action role-playing) event is about as close as most Muggles are likely to get to being a wizard. The volunteer-run College of Wizardry takes place in an actual castle, which participants live in for a long weekend. “We want the larp to feel like you're stepping into the world of Harry Potter,” the organizers state on the website. Upon arrival, participants—who play students and instructors—receive a wizard robe, a study book, and a tie in their House color. The event, according to the website, “is created by the players and organisers together, with everyone pitching in and helping make the magic come alive.” Registration for the next event, which takes place in April 2015, is now open.
2. THE QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP // VARIOUS LOCATIONS
You don’t need a portkey to get to the Muggle version of the Quidditch World Cup (you might need a plane ticket, though). The event, which is located in a different place each year, started as a competition between two schools in the Northeast in 2007. It has since become an international event featuring the sport’s 80 best teams, each comprised of seven players—who must hold their brooms at all times—assuming the posititions created by J.K. Rowling. An additional player serves as the Snitch. (According to the Quidditch World Cup website, “Snitches at this years World Cup will be selected based on past snitching experience and self-reported time trials. Snitches who hold a current & active certification from a Snitch Academy will be given priority selection over non-certified snitches. Certified snitches do not need to submit time trials as similar trials are being held as part of the Academy process.”)
3. MUGGLE TOURS // LONDON
This guided walking tour happens nearly every day and takes participants to a number of filming locations from the Harry Potter films, including the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron from Prisoner of Azkaban, the visitors’ entrance to the Ministry of Magic from Order of the Phoenix, the alleyway that served as the inspiration for Diagon Alley, and No. 12 Grimmauld Place, among others.
4. HARRY POTTER ENGLAND TOUR // LACOCK AND OXFORD, ENGLAND
The Harry Potter series filmed all over Britain, and this day-long tour, which picks up and drops off in London, takes fans to some of the hotspots. Adventurers will stop in Lacock Village, where they’ll see Professor Slughorn’s house, James and Lily Potter’s house in Godric’s Hollow, and the classrooms of Professors Snape and Quirrell. Then they’ll head to Oxford, where the University Colleges were used as stand-ins for Hogwarts. (A longer, two-day tour also includes a stop in Gloucester and an up-close experience with owls.)
5. WARNER BROS. STUDIO TOUR // LONDON
Of course, no Harry Potter fan’s world tour would be complete without a visit to Leavesden Studios—formerly an old airplane factory and runway—where the movies were filmed for over a decade. Visitors can hang out in the Great Hall and Diagon Alley, visit the Dursley’s home at 4 Privet Drive, board the Knight Bus, drink a butterbeer, and even hop on a broom against a green screen to take an awesome souvenir photo.
6. PLATFORM 9 ¾ // KING’S CROSS STATION, LONDON
Wizards-to-be, of course, ran through a barrier in London’s King's Cross Station to this platform, where they caught the Hogwarts Express to school. Muggles can’t do that, but they can take fun photos with the trolley that’s halfway through the wall and shop in the nearby Potter store, which has some fun exclusives.
7. LONDON ZOO REPTILE HOUSE // LONDON
Memorably, in the Sorcerer's Stone movie, Harry visits the London Zoo with the Dursleys. In the Reptile House, he not only has a conversation with a Burmese python, he makes the glass front of its habitat disappear, allowing the snake to slither free. Potter fans can reenact the scene themselves, but let's hope they don't make the glass disappear: In real life, the exhibit holds a very venomous black mamba.
8. WIZARD CHAMBERS, GEORGIA HOTEL HOUSE // LONDON
Maybe you never got your Hogwarts letter in the mail; maybe you’re too impatient to wait for it. Either way, staying in the Wizard Chambers at the Georgia House Hotel should scratch that Hogwarts itch. The rooms are furnished in a gothic style with four-poster beds, cauldrons, old trunks, and the Gryffindor crest on the wall. It’s enough to make any Muggle feel like they’re staying in a magical castle.
9. HARRY POTTER EXHIBITION // TRAVELING
Upon entering this traveling exhibition—currently in Germany—visitors are separated into houses by the Sorting Hat. Then, they’ll travel through rooms with displays inspired by the films’ sets to check out authentic Harry Potter props and costumes. There’s also an audio guide featuring interviews with the craftsmen and women who helped bring this magical world to life.
10. HARRY POTTER TOUR // EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND
Go back to where it all began with this tour, which starts in Edinburgh. First, travelers will go to the cafes where J.K. Rowling wrote the books; then, they’ll travel Northumberland to visit Alnwick Castle, which acted as Hogwarts in the first two films. The tour finishes up in the Scottish Highlands, where the visitors will visit filming locations and take a steam train that crosses over the Glenfinnan Viaduct (which Potter fans will recognize from Chamber of Secrets—it’s where Ron and Harry have a close encounter with the Hogwarts Express in Mr. Weasley’s Ford Anglia!).
11. THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER // ORLANDO, FLORIDA
Americans looking to get the Harry Potter experience without leaving the continent can head to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida. There, they’ll visit Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, ride the Hogwarts Express and Dragon Challenge rides, drink pumpkin juice and butterbeer, eat at the Three Broomsticks and The Leaky Cauldron, and shop at stores like Dervish and Banges, Honeydukes, and Weasleys Wizard Wheezes.