This June marks the 20th anniversary of J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the philosopher’s Stone’, the first in a series of one of the most beloved stories of the modern era that brought the wildly popular film franchise, a play, and multiple theme parks.
So where should the fans go to celebrate this most momentus of occasions?
Diehard Potter-heads know the best place to celebrate all things Harry this year is in Britain, where there are all kinds of festivals and special exhibitions. Since last summer the Brexit vote, the dollar is the strongest it’s been against the pound in many years. According to VisitLondon.com an American family of four can now save up to $140 per day.
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You can visit Harry Potter locations with guided tours in London, including the Brit Movie Tour, London Walks and Discovery Walks of London
But it is perhaps more fun to make your own Harry Potter tour. Here are 11 best bets:
1. The official film locations. The Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, is 20 miles from London, gives visitors the opportunity to behind the scenes of the Harry Potter films. See the original Hogwarts Express and the newest permanent expansion, the Forbidden Forest.
The Wizarding Cabinets exhibit, opening July 21, shows never-before-seen costumes and details of how they were designed. It is easy to get here is by public transport with a shuttle bus from Watford Junction station; there are also coach tours from London with Golden Tours. The Grove hotel is a offer tour and hotel packages.
2. Edinburgh, Scotland is where J. K Rowling famously wrote the first book in a coffee shop, and the last book in the series in the Balmoral Hotel. They are said to have been a part of her inspiration here—Victoria Street seems to be Daigon Alley, for example, and Hogwarts is said to be modeled after George Heriot ‘ s School, many believe. There are many tours including the Potter Trail, complete with a clad guide.
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3. The towers of Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, which is in the hands of the same family for 700 years, is familiar to the fans of the Harry Potter films as it was used as a location. Ready to play with the new Dragon Quest, faced with a series of challenges and come face-to-face with a terrifying beast?
4. Enjoy the theater. The award-winning and hugely popular Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, One and Two in the Palace Theatre in London is set in the years after the last novel, ‘ Harry Potter and the Deathly hallows.” The script is published in a book. Be warned: tickets can be hard to get!
5. The London Zoo Reptile House is where Harry first discovers his gift for talking with snakes. It is home to more than 650 different species.
6. Platform 9 ¾ really does exist? Visit the station where the students would jump on the Hogwarts Express. Platforms 4 and 5 were used for the filming, and today there is a photos app on a trolley by the wall marked Platform 9¾. There is also the Harry Potter Shop, built to resemble Ollivander’s wand emporium.
7. Leadenhall Market, the picturesque covered Victorian market in the City of London, is known for its cafes and nightlife. It was used as the location for diagon alley in many of the movies.
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8. Piccadilly Circus, one of London’s busiest intersections, is known as the place where Harry, Ron and Hermione run when they flee the wedding of Ron’s brother, with the death eaters hunting them down.
9. The pedestrian only London Millennium Bridge is where “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” opens with the bridge collapse.
10. The House of MinaLima has the original movie artwork of today. Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima are the designers behind the Harry Potter series and ” Fantastic Beasts.”
11. St. Pancras International Station is where Harry boards the Hogwarts express. Harry and Ron park in the courtyard during the “Chamber of Secrets” and later flying over the station.
Eileen Ogintz is the creator of the syndicated column and website Taking the Kids. She is also the author of the ten-book Kid’s Guide series to major American cities and the Great Smoky Mountains. The third edition of the Kid’s Guide to new YORK has just been released.