The eagerly anticipated Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I hits theaters November 19, 2010. VisitBritain, the national tourist board for England, Scotland and Wales, has prepared a roster of ‘not-to-be-missed’ locations throughout the UK for Harry Potter fans. Now is the perfect time for aspiring witches and wizards to pack their magic wands, hop on their broomsticks and follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter.
Highlights of Harry Potter tours available:
Carry On Tours offers a 4-night Carry On Harry Potter Adventure that offers an extensive tour of the filming locations in the English countryside featured in the first four films. The tour kicks off in Oxford with stops at Christchurch College and the Bodleian Library, where the Great Hall scenes and library scenes were filmed. A trip to Yorkshire to catch the Hogwarts express is included, followed by a trip to Hogwarts. The price is approximately $800 person and includes tours of the filming locations in London, Oxford, Gloucester, Yorkshire and the Peak District.
Off To London offers a 2-day tour of Harry Potter locations in England at various prices depending on the size of group. The tour includes visits to the tranquil National Trust village of Lacock, Oxford University’s Christ Church College, Gloucester Cathedral, Stonehenge, Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bath.
In its eighth year of operation, HP Fan Trips brings Potterholics the best of their past UK tours and adds some new stops along the way. In summer of 2011 Potter fans can ride a steam train along the same path taken by the Hogwarts Express, take a coach tour of the London locations used in the films, and even partake in an exclusive “Hogwarts-style” banquet at Edinburgh Castle.
London visitors can enjoy a Harry Potter afternoon walk visiting more than 20 city locations that appear in the series from London Walks. Organized Sundays, the walks cost $15 per person and start at different times, leaving from Westminster or Bank tube stations.
London in Lumos
Once of the most memorable scenes in the new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I movie takes place at London’s famous landmark, Piccadilly Circus, where Harry, Ron, and Hermione flee to a muggle cafe and are subsequently attacked by Death Eaters. While there are many cafes near Piccadilly Circus, Potter fans can rest assured that their coffee breaks will not be met with a wizard duel, but rather a peek at the Shaftesbury Memorial, Statue of Eros, neon signs, and the bright lights of several theatres and shops.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opens with a dramatic sequence of the Millennium Bridge in London collapsing. A pedestrian-only steel suspension bridge crossing River Thames, the Millennium Footbridge links Bankside with the City. The wizarding world of Harry Potter also comes alive in London in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The London Eye is one the landmarks that can be seen in the film. From your own “brooms eye” view atop the 135-meter Ferris wheel, you’ll be able to see many other famous sights, including Parliament, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. Right next to Big Ben you can find the entrance into the Westminster Tube Station, one of the main locations Harry uses when traveling in the film.
While in London, Potter fans cannot miss a priceless photo op at the enchanted Platform 9-3/4 at King’s Cross Station. Would-be sorcerers can try their hand at pushing a trolley through the brick wall between platforms nine and 10, otherwise known as the portal to the wizarding world.
In the new film, fans will see the Mersey Tunnels of Liverpool during a scene where Hagrid and Harry flee from the pursuit of some Death Eaters while on the same motorbike that was used to delivery Harry to the Dursley’s in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Fans can visit the tunnels and other great sites Liverpool offers.
Oxford university’s Christchurch College is a must while in Oxford, the location used for the magnificent Hogwarts dining hall and many of the school’s famous moving staircases. Should any travelers have a run-in with an ill-tempered magical creature, the Hogwarts hospital can be found in the Divinity School, which was used as the school’s infirmary in the fourth Potter film. The university’s circular Bodleian Library contains several antique manuscripts and mysterious works, including an ancient book of spells and witchcraft in Duke Humphrey’s Library, another location used in the films.
Gloucester is also one of England’s best places to visit for a spot of Harry Potter magic this year with the local cathedral bearing a fresh touch of Hollywood sparkle – thanks to the location being used again for the scenes set at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. While visitors may not meet Nearly Headless Nick or Moaning Myrtle in these halls, an ancient wooden door will lead them down to the old crypt, said to be haunted by monks from the old Gloucester monastery.
Also in Gloucestershire, visitors can learn more about the owls used by Hogwarts’ students at the National Bird of Prey Center. The Center is home to more than 60 species of owls, eagles and hawks, and offers an “Owl Experience Day” where owl enthusiasts can learn how to handle and fly these magical creatures.
Can’t get enough of Hogwarts? You can also visit the stunning Alnwick Castle, in the North of England, which was used for interior and exterior shots of Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter movies. To many visitors, their first sight of this glorious medieval castle can seem foreboding, and its history lacks nothing in drama and intrigue.
The majority of the blockbuster series’ breathtaking scenery was shot in the spectacular Scottish Highlands. This remains true for the newest films, as the cast spent a lot of time in the highlands filming scenes at Hogwarts and around Hogsmeade village. The most north-westerly point of the British mainland, Cape Wrath meets Voldemort’s fury in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, with some of Britain’s most spectacular cliffs playing a lead part in the dramatic climax of the new film. Visitors can reach Cape Wrath only by bus through 11 miles through wild unspoiled scenery.
One of the many east-west lochs across the Western Highlands, Loch Arkaig is another location featured extensively in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.. Visitors can enjoy a beautiful drive across the Caledonian Canal, continuing to the Dark Mile, at the end of which they’ll find the Witches Pool at the Cia-aig Falls. A stone staircase leads to the top of the falls, which are spectacular.
The magical steam train transporting Harry Potter to the wizard school of Hogwarts is in real life the Jacobite Steam Train operated by West Highland Railway, which runs 42 miles from Fort William to Mallaig. Along its way, the train passes through some of the scenery shown in the film, including Ben Nevis and the lochs and rugged countryside of Glen Nevis.
Steall Falls, the waterfall at the base of the Glen Nevis mountain, is where Harry battles with a dragon for the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. At Glenfinnan Viaduct, the Hogwarts Express steams across 416 yards of raised track over 21 supporting arches. Harry and Ron miss the train and fly to Hogwarts in a car that zooms around some of the viaduct’s 100-foot high arches. The train stalls on the viaduct, as Dementors stalk the train and torture Harry.
Other Highland filming includes a craggy, desolate hillside in the mountains of Glencoe Close, which provided the backdrop for Hagrid’s Hut, the Sundial Garden and the Bridge to Nowhere for the Prisoner of Azkaban. Loch Eilt is the location where Hagrid is seen skipping stones across the water and Black Rock Gorge near Evanton in Easter Ross was filmed for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Living up to J.K. Rowling’s description of a “lonely and beautiful place,” Freshwater West beach and coastal path on the Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales will be featured in the first part of the concluding Potter instalment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I, as the location of the “Shell Cottage” scenes. A beautiful wind swept, exposed beach, Freshwater West is the most well known of Pembrokeshire’s surf beaches. Freshwater West is the perfect location for visitors in search of a secluded sandy beach that isn’t too commercialized. Backed by sand dunes with scenic cliffs at either end, the beach is home to plenty of rock pools that can be explored and a restored seaweed collector’s hut.
For more information about planning a Harry Potter trip to the UK visit www.visitbritain.com.