Immerse yourself fully in the world of hippogriffs, magical castles, and spell-casting by choosing a Harry Potter theme for your next vacation.
In recent years, growing numbers of travelers have set out in pursuit of more memorable, immersive travel experiences. Popular travel bloggers like Nomadic Matt suggest traveling with a theme: “Instead of just trying to see the usual well-known sites, what if I went with a specific focus in mind?” Why not visit all the wineries in a region, see as many medieval monasteries as possible, or hit up only towns whose names begin with Z? By the same token, the popularity of independent and boutique hotels has skyrocketed. Rather than stay in generic rooms at large chains, many travelers instead seek out the unique atmospheres, personalized services, and stylish aesthetics of historic inns and locally-run B&Bs.
What does all this mean for Potter fans? There are more opportunities than ever for you to enjoy a Harry Potter-themed vacation! From wizard hotels and film set tours to specialty shops and fully immersive magic schools—there’s no time like the present to start planning a magical vacation.
Attend magic school: You’re never too old for playing make-believe. Slip into character at wizarding school, where you can enjoy a fully immersive environment: brew potions, encounter magical creatures, explore secret castle passages, and bond with your fellow students. Where to enroll? You can try the College of Wizardry at Czocha Castle, Poland, or the New World Magischola at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Both experiences draw inspiration from Harry Potter while building distinctive magical worlds of their own.
Learn to fly: Don’t miss this year’s Wizard Weekend (24-25 June 2017) at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland County, England, where visitors can participate in the castle’s “famous Broomstick Training lessons on the very spot where Harry had his first flying lesson.” The castle stood in as Hogwarts in scenes from the first and second Potter films. Other summer events include the appearance of costumed Harry Potter-inspired characters and a performance on medieval alchemy.
Sleep like a wizard in London: Potterheads visiting London can find plenty of magical attractions to keep busy during the day, from visiting Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station and touring the Warner Bros. studio, to catching a performance of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre. Why not end the day in wizard-style too? London’s Georgian House Hotel offers “Wizard Chambers” full of magical atmosphere: stained glass windows, fireplaces, and four-poster beds will make you feel as if you’re sleeping in Gryffindor Tower.
Visit Hogsmeade: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, now open at Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Universal Studios Japan, recreates the magic of the Harry Potter series. Marvel at Hogwarts Castle, browse the shops of Hogsmeade, stop in for a snack at the Leaky Cauldron, and find out what it’s like to ride a hippogriff. These theme parks create some of the most interactive, immersive Potter experiences available. Definitely worth a visit!
Learn the history of witchcraft trials: Visit Salem, Massachusetts to learn about some of the most sobering moments in the history of magic. The “Witch City” is infamous for hosting the 1692 Salem witch trials, which led to the execution of fourteen women and six men. A memorial stands in town to honor the lives lost. Visitors can explore the Witch Dungeon Museum and tour the Jonathan Corwin House (also known as the Witch House). On a lighter note, there are also numerous magic-themed shops in which to spend a pleasant afternoon. You can browse an array of magical artifacts in local businesses such as Crow Haven Corner and Wynott’s Wands. Historic boutique hotels like The Merchant and the Salem Inn welcome guests to relax in unique style.
Grab your Time Turner: In some ways, J.K. Rowling’s magical world is a throwback to an earlier age. Witches and wizards attend school in a medieval castle where they brew potions, cast Latin-esque spells, and eschew modern technology. Don some wizard’s robes and travel back in time to your local Renaissance Faire to soak up the magical ambiance. You’ll find shops that rival those of Diagon Alley and hearty food that wouldn’t be out of place in the Hogwarts Great Hall. My personal favorite is the Carolina Renaissance Festival that takes place every fall, but you’ll find incredible fairs all over the world.