HARRY Potter is one of the most famous fictional characters in the world, with millions of people having read the books or watched the movie adaptations.
The story has become such a runaway success that it’s hard to believe that it was 20 years ago when the young wizard took his first trip on the Hogwart’s Express.
But next Monday marks two decades since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first book in the series by JK Rowling.
Since then, the seven-book series has sold more than 450 million copies, making its author a self-made billionaire.
In the first book, an 11-year-old Harry is told that he is a wizard and is packed off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with all of its now-world famous characters.
Fans of the Boy Wizard and his pals can mark two decades of magic by brushing up on their broomstick skills, marvelling at wizards’ wardrobes and reliving their favourite on-screen moments with a series of activities all over England.
MARVEL AT WIZARDING WARDROBES: Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter, Hertfordshire
During the ten years of filming the Harry Potter movies, more than 25,000 unique items of clothing were created.
From 21 July to 4 September, “Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter” will unveil many of these magical costumes with its Wizarding Wardrobes display.
Go on a journey through the intricate process that saw robes, gowns and fantastical disguises go from initial sketch to finished costume.
As well as “hero” costumes worn on screen by Harry, Ron and Hermione; on display for the first time will be outfits designed especially for glamorous Daily Prophet reporter Rita Skeeter, whose garb regularly matched the storyline she featured in at the time.
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Further special features at the attraction include Dark Arts (October 1 – November 12) and Hogwarts in the Snow (18 November – 4 February 2018).
Tickets cost £39 per adult, £31 per child (5-15). Family tickets are available.
BRUSH UP YOUR BROOMSTICK SKILLS: Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
Alnwick Castle played the part of Hogwarts in two of the Harry Potter films and the castle now hosts broomstick lessons for all; the Quidditch season kicked off in March and runs through to October 29.
Join Alnwick’s resident wizarding professors to take to the skies on the very spot where Harry had his first flying lesson in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Twenty-minute sessions are free with admission.
The Castle is also home to a new Dragon Quest attraction that will appeal to brave young visitors. £13.95 per adult; £7.20 per child.
DELVE INTO HARRY POTTER HISTORY: British Library, London
Opening on October 20 and running through to February 28, 2018, the British Library will become a magnet for muggles who want to learn more about the magic of The Potterverse – and the author behind the books.
A brand new exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic (in partnership with the series’ publisher Bloomsbury), is set to be the first of its kind to celebrate a single series of books by a living author.
Treasures on show will include previously unseen materials from JK Rowling, as well as some of the British Library’s own collection of wizarding books.
Tickets cost £16 for adults and between £5 and £11 for concessions.
GO TO WIZARDING SCHOOL: Enigma Quests, London
Still waiting for your letter from Hogwarts to arrive? Pay a trip to Enigma Quest’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and hone your skills.
An escape game with a magical twist, Enigma Quest offers a Hogwarts-inspired challenge that will see your team face obstacles and tests worthy of Potter himself, requiring more than a pinch of bravery.
The game lasts one hour exactly and can be played by three to five people.
Find the Quest in London, close to Moorgate – just a 10 minute walk from Leadenhall Market, a Harry Potter filming location. Tickets cost from £90 for a team of three.
SEE THE SEQUEL: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, London
Based on an original new story by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has sent Potter fans wild, as fresh storylines and new characters are revealed.
The play is set years after the end of the last book, with Harry now an overworked employee at the Ministry for Magic with three school-age children, one of whom – Albus – must struggle with the weight of his extraordinary family legacy.
The play is presented in two parts, intended to be seen in order on the same day or on two consecutive evenings. Tickets are on sale to 22 July 2018 and cost from £15 to £70 for both parts.
FOLLOW IN HARRY’S FOOTSTEPS: Oxford
Take a self-guided walking tour of Oxford, which saw much magical activity during the filming of the Harry Potter franchise.
See the Tudor dining hall at Christ Church College that inspired the Hogwarts Great Hall, and the staircase that was used several times during the films, including where the first years are met by Professor McGonagall at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Delve into the Divinity School at the Bodleian Library, which features as the Hogwarts infirmary.
Or wander around the cloisters at New College, which featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, including the infamous scene where Mad-Eye Moody turned Malfoy into a ferret!
Find out more here.
TAKE THE GRAND TOUR: Across England
Brit Movie Tours have put together the ultimate Harry Potter experience: a two-day tour led by a specialist in the books and films as well as the history of the places visited on the tour.
The adventure begins in Lacock village in Wiltshire, taking in Professor Slughorn’s house and Godric’s Hollow where ‘he who shall not be named’ murdered Harry’s parents.
Fans will then see Gloucester Cathedral, where the Gryffindor Common Room was brought to life, finishing with a peek at the Dursleys’ home.
Day two starts with a trip to Oxford and ends with a visit to the “Warner Bros Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter”. £1,800 for two people or £1,900 for four people.
Includes Professional guide, transport by air-conditioned vehicle and entry to Warner Bros Studio Tour.
BOARD THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS: Platform 9 ¾, Kings Cross, London
No self-respecting Potter fan can live without a Hogwarts scarf, and whether Gryffindor or Slytherin floats your boat, The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 ¾ is the place to get it – as well as your wand, of course.
Fittingly located at Kings Cross, where wannabe witches and wizards catch the Hogwarts Express to school, there’s also a fantastic photo opportunity to be had, as you crash through the brick wall onto Platform 9 ¾.
There’s also now a Harry Potter Shop at Heathrow Terminal 5.