On 26th June 2017, it will have been exactly 20 years since the UK publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. At the time, it was a modest debut from a first-time author. Today, it’s almost impossible to overstate the enormous impact Harry Potter has had on readers, filmgoers, and would-be wizards the world over, though the numbers provide a good indication: over 450 million copies have been sold across the globe, and the book has since been translated into 79 languages.
This summer, there’s never been a better time to discover the legacy of Harry Potter in London, thanks to a number of magical festivities. First, we’d advise logging onto Pottermore to let the Sorting Hat determine your Hogwarts House. Then, don your robes, grab your wand, and get ready to take part in the celebrations.
For starters, keep your eyes on Bloomsbury’s round-up of anniversary events and offerings. The publisher will soon be releasing four special editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, featuring Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin colours and crests. It has also produced a 20th Anniversary Party Pack for the occasion, and is putting together a festive fan video, should you want to share your stories about what The Boy Who Lived means to you. And don’t forget to note 20th October down in your diary: that’s when the British Library’s special exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, opens to the public.
For Harry Potter fans visiting London, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden is an essential stop. Go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the film sets, discover incredible costumes, learn more about the film’s special effects, visit the Forbidden Forest—a new feature that debuted this spring—and don’t leave before enjoying a frothy glass of Butterbeer.
Then there’s the unmissable Harry Potter Film Locations Tour. Follow our knowledgeable guides through Central London on this half-day tour, and even avowed Muggles will see the city through new eyes.
Beginning at Westminster Tube station—or the entrance to the Ministry of Magic, as visitors will soon discover—you’ll see a number of famous London landmarks while discovering the secret corners that have wound up in the Harry Potter films (or inspired J.K. Rowling’s limitless imagination).
Peep into Downing Street to see where the Prime Minister resides (and where conversation between the Muggle and Wizarding Worlds takes place) before venturing past Trafalgar Square (a popular film location), Cecil Court (on which Diagon Alley is modelled), St. Paul’s Cathedral (whose design inspired the Order of the Phoenix), and the City of London School (which Daniel Radcliffe attended). Visitors will also traipse across Millennium Bridge, catch glimpses of inspiring locations along the South Bank, and finish off their tour at Platform 9 ¾ in Kings Cross.
With all this and more to enjoy, make 2017 the year you embark on a Harry Potter-themed tour of London. And who knows…in the future, you might even be able to explore by broomstick.
Image courtesy of Warner Bros.