The Muggle home of Harry Potter
Black Friday is behind us, and it’s all white from here on out because Christmas is coming. This inevitably means all manner of debate about who Christmas cards should be sent to. One thing is for sure though, at some point, someone you know is going to take their first journey to the most famous of wizarding schools on the Hogwarts express.
Rowling’s legendary fantasies have made her the richest (and only billionaire) author in the world and spawned an entire commercial empire with movies, videogames, clothing and well … everything dedicated to the boy that lived. The wizarding world has quite literally shaped ours. One of the places which this is most apparent though is the capital city of the author’s home country.
Platform 9¾ doesn’t just exist in the books, between platforms 9 and 10 at the real-life King’s Cross station you can find a sign reading 9¾ with a trolley disappearing through the wall. The gate from our Muggle world to the Hogwarts station comes complete with a Harry Potter gift shop so fans can stop off and fill their bags with a variety of magical merchandise just as soon as their train gets into Kings Cross station. As you would expect, many scenes from the movies were filmed in London and so when you re-watch the pictures this Christmas, look out for iconic London landmarks like Lambeth Bridge, St. Pancras International and Millennium Bridge.
The capital’s contribution to the Harry Potter brand couldn’t be mentioned without reference to one of the city’s most successful tourist attractions though; Harry Potter Studios. The legendary film set turned ongoing exhibition gets a winter makeover this year with Christmas cards, burning fireplaces and snow featured throughout. Perhaps most impressively, The Great Hall has been redecorated to appear as it did in the movie’s epic depiction of the Yule Ball. The site will remain in its wintery glory until January 27th, after that Potterheads will have to settle for the still spectacular experience of all-year-round Hogwarts.
Of course, the Harry Potter London experience doesn’t end with the studios as the Tony Award-winning Harry Potter and the Cursed Child continues to sell out shows at the famous Palace Theatre. After premiering at the location mentioned above in June 2016, the tale of Harry’s struggles as a father to son Albus has made its way to Broadway and is set to be hitting Melbourne’s East End in 2019. While the birthplace of the production will always be the premier destination to witness Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, its transition overseas is nonetheless an impressive feat which testifies to the popularity of the show.
While wandering the capital doing your Christmas shopping, you’d be hard-pressed to avoid Potter fever. Oxford Street’s gargantuan Primark is brimming with Harry Potter clothing, and Hamleys toy shop is chock-a-block with Harry Potter games, costumes and Lego. So yes, books aren’t as popular in 2018 as they were a decade or so ago when the final book of the main Harry Potter series was released, but those books bred an empire ever-present in Harry’s muggle home. You regularly notice children and adults alike in Potter Christmas jumpers on the tube staring into space with a longing look in their eyes, and you can’t help but wonder whether they are dreaming of getting a Hogwarts letter through their letterbox this Christmas. So don’t expect the Potterheads to pull out their invisibility cloaks any time soon, in London at least, we’re everywhere.