The iconic Royal Albert Hall will screen “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” accompanied by a live orchestra and chorus. // © 2017 VisitEngland
Feature image (above): Potter fans can venture into the Forbidden Forest with a new tour expansion from Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. // © 2017 Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
It’s hard to believe that J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone” (or “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” as it is known in the U.S.) was published 20 years ago. The magical adventures of a young wizard — an idea born on a train journey, then brought to fruition in a cafe in Edinburgh, Scotland — sparked an international phenomenon that comprises seven books and eight films, and puts kids and adults alike under a spell.
To celebrate the anniversary of the first book’s publication, special events will be taking place in London, as well as in other U.K. locations that play a part in Potter’s history.
Bothwell School of Witchcraft
From August 11-13, Potter fans will finally have the chance to study witchcraft and wizardry as 15th-century Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex, England, is transformed into the Bothwell School of Witchcraft. During the immersive three-day event, students will be sorted into houses, take part in magical lessons and meet all sorts of enchanted creatures.
One of the things that makes the first “Harry Potter” book so memorable for readers is learning about the wizarding world for the first time. So, what could be more magical than learning a trick or two during the novel’s anniversary year? Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England, portrays Hogwarts in two “Harry Potter” films, and from March 31 to Oct. 29, visitors can take broomstick lessons from Alnwick’s resident wizarding professors at the exact spot where Harry first learned to fly.
Harry Potter: A History of Magic
Want to discover divination or ponder potions? To celebrate the book’s 20th anniversary, The British Library in London is planning a special exhibition from Oct. 20, 2017, to Feb. 28, 2018, about the magic of “Harry Potter.”
The first British Library exhibition inspired by a single series of books written by a living author will be a journey to the heart of the “Harry Potter” stories. It will include rare books and manuscripts containing medieval descriptions of dragons and other magical creatures, as well as the origins of many of the myths brought to life in author J.K. Rowling’s stories — particularly the mysterious Philosopher’s Stone. Alongside these centuries-old British Library treasures will be previously unseen materials from the archives of Bloomsbury, the original publisher of the first book, as well as from Rowling’s personal collection.
Agents should note that tickets can only be booked online (with a maximum of six tickets booked at one time). Tickets for Oct. 20 to Dec. 31 are on sale now; 2018 tickets will be available later this year.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Concert
Potter will make a very magical Royal Albert Hall debut from May 11-14 with a live orchestral screening of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” Audiences will see the entire movie in high definition on a 40-foot screen accompanied by a world-class orchestra and chorus performing John Williams’ memorable score. The four performances at the iconic London venue are sure to be an unforgettable experience for “Harry Potter” fans. There will also be performances in other cities through May 21.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter
Although focused on the “Harry Potter” films rather than the books, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter is still must-see for Potter fans. The tour offers behind-the-scenes looks at how the films were made, as well opportunities to get up close and personal with authentic props and costumes from all eight movies.
On March 31, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London unveiled a new expansion: Step Into the Forbidden Forest. On this tour, visitors can ignore the warnings of Hogwarts’ headmaster Dumbledore and venture into the Forbidden Forest that has been strictly off limits — until now.
“Visitors will get to walk through the gates of Hogwarts and enter a spectacular and foreboding space,” said Sarah Roots, senior vice president of worldwide tours for Warner Bros. Entertainment Group of Companies.
An original costume for Hagrid, who taught the Care of Magical Creatures class, welcomes guests at the entrance to the forest, where they can explore the twisted roots of 19 giant trees more than 12 feet in diameter and encounter magical — and perhaps menacing — creatures such as Hippogriffs and Acromantula. This immersive experience is sure to be a dream come true for anyone who loves the “Harry Potter” movies and books.
Writer’s Room in Edinburgh
Another city celebrating 20 years of Potter mania is Edinburgh, which plays the most important role in Potter’s history, since this is where the series both began and ended.
According to Linda McAllister, senior manager of intermediary marketing and strategic partnerships for VisitScotland, Rowling wrote “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone” at The Elephant House coffee shop, and finished the last book of the series in The Balmoral hotel, a Rocco Forte Hotels property. The hotel room where the author wrapped up her series — now named the J.K. Rowling Suite — contains her writing desk and a marble bust of Greek god Hermes signed by the writer.
Even More Potter Magic
Fans who want further wizarding fun to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” can check out these London filming locations of the first film of the franchise.
King's Cross Station
Where students board the Hogwarts Express on Platform 9 3/4.
Fun Fact: For filming, platforms 4 and 5 were renumbered 9 and 10. At the station today, visitors can see the hidden access to Platform 9 3/4 complete with a luggage cart disappearing into the wall.
Closest Tube Station: King's Cross St. Pancras, a one-minute walk to the attraction
Pro Tip: Visitors can take a picture (complete with a Gryffindor scarf) and visit the adjacent shop with merchandise from the books and films.
Exterior for Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron
Fun Fact: Leadenhall Market, built in 1881, is London's most beautiful Victorian market.
Closest Tube Station: Monument, a three-minute walk
Reptile House, London Zoo
Where Harry learns he can speak to snakes and liberates a Burmese python
Fun Fact: In the film, the tank contains a Burmese python; however, it’s actually home to a black mamba. A plaque beside the enclosure commemorates the famous scene.
Closest Tube Station: Camden Town, a five-minute walk