This June marks the 20th anniversary of the publishing of the first Harry Potter book in the U.K. It’s hard to believe that the wizarding story that captivated the world turns 20, but it’s certainly a reason to celebrate in one of its biggest backdrops: London. To mark the occasion, several things to do in the U.K. center around the story.
If you and your family are fans of J.K. Rowling’s work, this could make for the perfect backdrop for a trip to the U.K. Plan your next trip around what to do in London, England, or create your own itinerary of Harry Potter stops highlighted below. Whether you visit just one location or see them all, it will make your trip a bit more magical:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Concert – May 11-14, 2017
Plan a stay in London during a very special concert series: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Concert. Fun trivia fact: the first book was renamed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for American audiences. The first Harry Potter movie will be played on the big screen while a live, world-class orchestra and chorus handle the score for an experience that awakens the senses.
Five performances will take place at the iconic London venue of the Royal Albert Hall. Check out more information and reserve your tickets here.
Harry Potter at the British Library – October 20, 2017-February 28, 2018
For places to go with kids in London, there’s a fantastical exhibit at the British Library. The exhibit will showcase the British Library’s collections of thrilling treasures, including a view of the history of magic and literature, displays of wizarding books, and – perhaps best of all – previously unseen material from Bloomsbury’s and Rowling’s archives. Items like hand-written drafts of the sorting hat’s song will be a treat for super fans.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End Theater District
As a follow-up to the Harry Potter story, Rowling’s co-written play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is now performed in the Palace Theatre in London.
Other must-see sites:
With the original books written in the U.K. and many of the movie’s scenes shot there, there is a treasure trove of things to do related to the Boy Who Lived. Other Harry Potter sites and other places you must visit while traveling in the U.K. include:
The Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England: This site is easy to recognize from the movies, since many of the Quidditch scenes and aerial shots of the castle were captured here.
The Elephant House coffee shop in Edinburgh, Scotland: Here is where Rowling wrote most of her first books.
Oxford University in Oxford, U.K.: This university – one of the oldest in the world – served as the backdrop for many shots from the Harry Potter movies. These include the iconic Hogwarts staircases, the Hogwarts infirmary, and the Hogwarts Library.
Platform 9¾, London: Head to King’s Cross Station in London to find an actual location for Platform 9¾. Helpful hint: it’s actually located between platforms 4 and 5.
Hogsmeade Station in North Yorkshire: The shots of Hogsmeade station can really be found at Goathland Station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Loch Shiel, Scotland, or Virginia Water in England: The lake surrounding Hogwarts school is represented by shots of the beautiful Loch Shiel in Scotland and Virginia Water in Surrey, England.
George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh, Scotland: Across from The Elephant House is this castle-like school, which is speculated to be the inspiration for Rowling’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The town of Suffolk in the U.K.: This spot serves as Godric’s Hollow.
Cliffs of Moher in Ireland: This famous national attraction was also home to several scenes from the Half-Blood Prince.
Where to stay:
To continue the ambiance of a trip built around Harry Potter lore, a cottage may be the trick. Wyndham Vacation Rentals offers options ranging from small homes reminiscent of Hagrid’s cabin, or large enough to house even the Weasley clan! Take a look at cottages.com or Hoseasons.co.uk. If you want a city stay in London for the heart of the action, browse apartments at Veeve.com.