Hogwarts In The Snow at the Harry Potter London Studio Tour
Happy Chrismukkah! Hope you’re enjoying the holidays & spending time with friends and family. I ate so much today I can barely move, so (after two naps to prepare myself) I’m here and ready to post about Hogwarts – because if you can’t pretend you’re a wizard at Christmas, then when can you?
I’ve visited Hogwarts at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London twice now (summer & winter) and I thought today would be a nice time to share some magical photos and cinemagraphs from both days. For someone who loves the Harry Potter books and/or films, it is a must-see attraction in the UK; although something tells me that even if you haven’t the foggiest idea what a polyjuice potion is, you would still enjoy the unique experience.
The tour itself is not so much a tour as it is access to the sets to explore at your leisure. These are the actual studios at which the films were created, so what you’re seeing are the real sets and authentic props, rearranged into a convenient pathway but original nonetheless. It begins with a brief talk covering the basic story of how the books came to life through the film series, a short cinema screening and then you’re free to make your own way through the studios. You can bring cameras and take as many photos/videos as you like, but you can’t bring professional equipment like huge lenses, tripods etc. There’s also a free cloakroom so you can leave heavy bags & coats etc if you’d like to – although there is an outside area where you can buy butterbeer and see outdoor sets, so if it’s super chilly you might like to keep hold of your coat.
There are so many great bits in the studio tour that I can’t pick one favourite. I’d say the highlights for me are the Great Hall, Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Castle, simply because they’re so impressive and you genuinely feel like you’ve just walked right into one of the films. But there are a lot of other brilliant things too – you can ride a broomstick, look at concept art and miniature paper models, find the names of all the cast & crew in Ollivander’s, interact with the seemingly enchanted moving sets and knock on the Dursleys’ front door. Why not take a peek inside Hagrid’s hut, visit Dumbledore in his office, snoop around the boys’ dormitory or go to potions class – not to mention checking out all the behind-the-scenes props and drawings!
Over the winter months each year (14th November-1st February), the Harry Potter studios are transformed for Christmas, with a christmas-feast-filled great hall, tinsel-clad common room and a blanket of snow sprinkled over the castle. The tour itself, sets and activities aren’t actually much different to the original setup, so if you’re going to see Hogwarts in the Snow then you won’t miss out on any of the regular props. Just some of them will be christmas-themed and it might be snowing a little outside the windows..
At the end of the tour, you’ll come out into a huge gift shop, where you can buy merch, souvenirs, chocolate frogs, a sorting hat, robes, a marauder’s map, and even framed filmstrips from the movies! There are a lot of great things here, so if you know someone who loves Harry Potter (i.e. yourself) you’ll be spoilt for choice with the variety of things you could buy. If you arrive early, you can look around the gift shop prior to your tour as it can be accessed from the main lobby too. Alternatively, there’s a café if you have time to get a coffee before your tour is due to begin.
If that’s managed to convince you that you absolutely need to come here, you’ll need to book tickets online or by phone (it’s very easy and not too expensive – around £30 currently), and aim to arrive at the studio about 10 minutes before your tour is due to begin. You can also purchase gift tickets for someone else if you like. There’s a big car park if you’re driving, or if you’re coming from Central London you can get a London Midland or Overground train, which both accept Oyster cards, from Euston to Watford Junction. This takes 20-40 minutes (the Overground is slower as it stops at more stations), so allow yourself time just incase. I think you can get there from Birmingham New Street too, but you’ll have to check train times. Then from just outside the front of Watford Junction station, there’s a regular Harry Potter shuttle bus which will take you to the studios in 10 minutes. The shuttle costs £2 for a return ticket (£1.50 single if you’re planning on never leaving) so make sure you have some cash on you for Ernie.
All in all it’s an absolutely brilliant day out which I would highly recommend – definitely worth dropping by if you’re already staying in London for a couple of days. The sets are changed around to make space for new additions every so often, so you never know what to expect! The only way I think it could be improved would be if you had to get the Hogwarts Express from 9 & 3/4 at Kings Cross to the studios (PLEASE make this a thing Warner Bros. Wizards! I will totally go back again), because that would just be the absolute best journey. Also I think they should sell moving pictures in frames (*hint* I will make them in return for sickles, just send me an owl/email please!) like the ones I’ve included in this post.
That’s all for today! Again, hope you had a lovely Christmas and enjoy the rest of the break, and let me know if you decide to go to the studio tour in the new year.
Festive wishes and snowflake hugs,
Love Marie x