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11 Awesome Stops That Should Be on Every Harry Potter Fan's Vacation List

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Love Harry Potter? Love traveling? Then we have a bucket list for you.


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.


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.”)


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!).


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.

Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Sylvia Plath's Pulitzer Prize in Poetry Is Up for Auction
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Nate D. Sanders Auctions

A Pulitzer Prize in Poetry that was awarded posthumously to Sylvia Plath in 1982 for her book The Collected Poems will be auctioned on June 28. The Los Angeles-based Nate D. Sanders Auctions says bidding for the literary document will start at $40,000.

The complete book of Plath’s poetry was published in 1981—18 years after her death—and was edited by her husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes. The Pulitzer Prize was presented to Hughes on Plath’s behalf, and one of two telegrams sent by Pulitzer President Michael Sovern to Hughes read, “We’ve just heard that the Collected Plath has won the Pulitzer Prize. Congratulations to you for making it possible.” The telegrams will also be included in the lot, in addition to an official congratulatory letter from Sovern.

The Pultizer’s jury report from 1982 called The Collected Poems an “extraordinary literary event.” It went on to write, “Plath won no major prizes in her lifetime, and most of her work has been posthumously published … The combination of metaphorical brilliance with an effortless formal structure makes this a striking volume.”

Ted Hughes penned an introduction to the poetry collection describing how Plath had “never scrapped any of her poetic efforts,” even if they weren’t all masterpieces. He wrote:

“Her attitude to her verse was artisan-like: if she couldn’t get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair, or even a toy. The end product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity. So this book contains not merely what verse she saved, but—after 1956—all she wrote.”

Also up for auction is Plath’s Massachusetts driver’s license from 1958, at which time she went by the name Sylvia P. Hughes. Bidding for the license will begin at $8000.

Plath's driver's license
Nate D. Sanders Auctions
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]


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