Harry Potter Week: The Busy Traveller’s Guide to Harry Potter’s London

Harry, Hermione & Ron in London
Harry, Hermione & Ron in London © Warner Bros.

There are countless reasons to visit London but for many fans of Harry Potter, getting to see some of the real life locations from the films has to up near the top. A quick Google search will provide you with countless options for everything from self-guided walking tours to week long vacations taking in all the Potter goodness you could possibly wish for, but a good number of visitors to London are here on business without the time for such extended tours. If you only have an hour spare in your trip, what’s worth seeing and what is convenient? Here then is the guide to Harry Potter filming locations for those people who are in a hurry and just want to squeeze a bit of Potter magic into a hectic business trip.

 

1. Kings Cross Station/Platform 9 and Three Quarters

Underground Station:
Kings Cross St. Pancras (Victoria, Piccadilly, Northern, Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines)

Is it worth visiting?
This is the location that gives you the most Potter for your time with three distinct Potter locations within minutes of one another and all right at the station, meaning there’s little chance of getting lost in London’s winding back streets. If you only have time for one Potter experience, this is where you should head. It is worth noting that the current location of the entrance to Platform Nine & Three Quarters is outside and the brick wall into which the trolley appears to be vanishing is actually a shiny plastic photograph of a brick wall and very fake when close up, not the genuine brick wall inside the building which was used previously. This may be because of the major renovations currently happening at Kings Cross in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games and so the platform entrance may eventually be moved back to a real wall.

What is the location like?
For the unseasoned London traveller, it is very important to know that Kings Cross actually comprises two different stations which are set across the road from one another, Kings Cross and Kings Cross St Pancras International. Past visitors may recall a third Kings Cross station – Thameslink which has now closed with services to that station now re-routed to St Pancras. Make sure you are aware which station you will be arriving at, Kings Cross is one of the largest hubs in London and is nearly always very busy, even late at night. You will need to cross a road to see both areas but a pedestrian crossing is located close by and the area is usually so busy that the traffic is often stationary for long periods anyway.

What will I see?
Kings Cross itself is home to Platform 4, where the bridge scenes from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone were filmed, however the bridge that Harry & Hagrid walked across has been demolished. Scenes from Chamber of Secrets were also filmed on Platform 4. You cannot access the platform itself without a valid ticket however it is easy to see the distinctive arched roof from the station concourse. Outside the station (follow the signs for lost property) you will find the false brick wall that marks the entrance to Platform 9 and 3/4 – if you get lost, look for the crowd of people queuing up for a photograph, it was a constant presence during my time waiting for a friend there.

Platform Nine & Three Quarters
Platform Nine & Three Quarters

Finally, to your immediate left as you look at Platform 9 and 3/4, you will see the distinctive architecture of Kings Cross St Pancras, where the exterior shots from Chamber of Secrets with the flying Ford Anglia were located. Crossing the road and heading up the stairs immediately in front of you will take you away from the traffic and into the courtyard of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel which will allow you to really see the location and the beauty of the building. This is also where several publicity shots for Deathly Hallows Part Two were taken last week.

 

2. Grimmauld Place

 

 

 

Lincoln's Inn Fields
Some Houses at Lincoln’s Inn Fields

 

 

 

Underground Station:
Holborn (Piccadilly & Central Lines)

Is it worth visiting?
This is rather debatable as the true location for Grimmauld Place is still up for some debate, meaning there’s a good chance that what you’ll see has nothing to do with Harry Potter except baring a bit of a resemblance to the film set. However when we went along to the most  touted location for Grimmauld Place, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, there was no mistaking that the houses here are an uncanny match to those at in the films.

What is the location like?
We used Holborn underground station and followed the signs to Lincoln’s Inn Fields from the station exit, they were clearly signposted. This is not scenic, picturesque London by any stretch of the imagination but if you want to see something closer to the “real” London, this is a good stop. The location was around five minutes walk and unmistakeable upon arrival. Lincoln’s Inn Fields is believed to have been the inspiration for New York’s Central Park as all the houses face out onto  a scenic open square, accurate to the film. If you’re on a lunch break and want to mix your Potter sightseeing with a nice spot to get lunch, this is the place.

What will I see?
All the houses facing the square have elements of Grimmauld Place to them, walking along the roads we would spot a familiar railing at one house and the next would have the correct window surrounding. Take a stroll around the square and you can probably amalgamate the appearance of Number 12 by piecing together the different bits from each different front. Naturally you wouldn’t actually be able to spot Number 12 anyway, unless you have been there before.

 

3. Shaftesbury Avenue & Piccadilly Circus

Shaftesbury Avenue
Shaftesbury Avenue

Underground Station:
Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly & Bakerloo Lines)

Is it worth visiting?
This is where Harry, Ron & Hermione apparate to when they escape from the wedding in Deathly Hallows Part One. There is little here to actually mark the location as being a Potter location but you will certainly see some of the same sights around you from those scenes.

What is the location like?
Busy! This is the heart of tourist London, expect huge crowds from dawn ’til dusk. The underground station has numerous exits that bring you out on various sides of a huge road junction with multiple streets converging. It is difficult to truly see much of the area because of the crowds and tricky to get your bearings. Unless you really want to see everything or are interested in the tourist attractions, theatres and restaurants here, this may be one to avoid.

What will I see?
This stop is more about atmosphere, especially if you’re visiting at night, perhaps before a show in one of the countless theatres located nearby. The crowded pavements, roads filled with bright red London buses and neon signs of the theatres and restaurants give you the feel of being in the scene along with the characters which is a feeling you may struggle to attain at other locations. One of biggest tourist attractions here is Ripley’s Believe It Or Not which can be seen very briefly in the film as can the famous Piccadilly video screen wall.

 

4. The Ministry of Magic

The Ministry of Magic
The Ministry of Magic

Underground Station:
Charing Cross (Northern and Bakerloo Lines) or Embankment (Bakerloo, Circle and District Lines)

Is it worth visiting?
This is one of few locations that are almost identical in reality to the way they appear on screen. It is a significant walk (perhaps 10 minutes) from Charing Cross, where we approached from however you will get to see Trafalgar Square on your walk, combining the location with some more traditional London tourism. This one is certainly worth it if you have the time but there are certainly more scenic places to see.

What is the location like?
The Ministry of Magic  is aptly located, close to many real governmental buildings including the Ministry of Defence, Cabinet Office and Downing Street – home of the Prime Minister. Coming from Charing Cross, you will pass by Trafalgar Square and you are close to other famous London landmarks such as The Mall. The surrounding areas aren’t much to look at, this is a government area with little to attract non workers so expect grey monotony. You are also right by the original home of the Metropolitan Police at Scotland Yard.

What will I see?
Scotland Place is where the trio staked out the main entrance to Ministry in Deathly Hallows Part One and also where we see Harry & Mr Weasley enter the Ministry in Order of The Phoenix. The phone box Harry & Arthur used to enter the Ministry was a prop and does not really exist, however apart from this nothing was changed for the film so this is one of few places where you can stand in the exact locations seen in the films. Nearby is Trafalgar Square where the premiere of Deathly Hallows Part Two took place last week.

 

5. Other locations

London is a big city and, partly due to several large protests that were converging on Parliament the afternoon of our trip, we didn’t have the time (or consider it entirely safe) to visit every filming site. The Millennium Bridge which is destroyed in the opening scenes of Half Blood Prince can be seen from many points along the River Thames as can several other bridges and the Houses of Parliament where we see Harry & members of the Order flying in Order of The Phoenix and Lambeth Bridge where the Knight Bus squeezed between two London buses. Australia House (interior of Gringott’s Bank) is close to the Ministry of Magic location and can be accessed best from Temple underground station; Leadenhall Market (Monument underground) is the location for Diagon Alley and a flower shop in Borough Market (London Bridge underground) marks where the Knight Bus pulled up to deposit Harry at the Leaky Cauldron. Finally, if you do find yourself with a little extra time, you could always visit the reptile house at London Zoo and see if you can talk to any of the residents there or take the 17 minute train ride from Waterloo to Surbiton Station where Harry flirted with a waitress in the platform cafe at the beginning of Half Blood Prince.

Wicked Fun with the Kodak All-in-One ESP C310 and Design Gallery Software DVDs

Kodak Harry Potter graphics softwareYou’re likely already read the printing adventures by our own GeekMoms over the course of the week. I am admittedly a bit of a Harry Potter fangirl, so this project seemed like a no-brainer for me. Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ boasted all sorts of wicked good fun, and seeing the faces of my familiar and favorite characters come to life in a variety of creative (and with a decidedly Potterian aesthetic) was equally exciting.

But let me start at the beginning.

Because any good project is only as good as our printer. For reference, we had an HP all-in-one before Kodak sent the ESP C310 my way. And we were generally happy with it. At least, marginally so. I mean, printers are only as good as the ink you use, right? And the last time we went and bought ink (right before a hurried convention appearance where I was supposed to be printing out little cards for promotion) we just about broke bank. Not to mention that the printer was notoriously finicky with my MacBook Pro.

Well, I’m happy to report that there were no such problems with the Kodak All-in-One ESP C310. Setup was a snap, and after a restart and a short calibration period, we were connected to the printer via wireless network. Wireless printing is one of those things I marvel at, still. Geek that I am I can’t help but feel like printing without a cord in the middle is just a little magic.

Add to that that the price of ink for the ESP C310 is significantly lower than our previous printer, and that the print quality is great… well, I’m a happy camper, let’s just say.

Now. On to the projects. You’ve seen this week that there are many possibilities when it comes to projects with the Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™. That’s no surprise. I love the many symbols and designs, and they really all do evoke a sense of the world of Harry Potter, right down to the menus and elements in the program.

A screen shot of the project in progress.

However, I am biased. Sure, there are all sorts of camps when it comes to the Harry Potter oeuvre. But personally there is no home like the Burrow, and no hero like Ron Weasley. Okay so he’s a little tempestuous at times. And the whole fight between Ron and Harry really dragged out in Book Four, to the point where I wanted to knock both their skulls together. But when it comes down to it, Weasley really is my king. He’s the most likely character to make me laugh, cry, and giggle. Yes, admittedly I have a thing for ginger guys. But that’s hardly the point!

While there were a few odd bugs with the Macintosh version — switching between windows caused the program to blank out until I clicked on “Home” and it does not fill the whole screen — the tweenager in me was still quite thrilled to print a project featuring my most favorite wizard. And if I were so inclined I could also emblazon his face upon banners, doorhangers, and calendars, all as easily as if I had a wand of my own.

Just don’t call me Lavender.

At any rate! If you, too, would like to experience a great printer with some fun software, remember that Kodak and GeekMom are giving away the last and final bundle this week. All you’ve got to do is comment on Monday’s post to enter.

What are you waiting for? Appararate over there already.

GeekMom and Kodak Bring You Some Magical Giveaways (Now Ended)

In four short weeks, Hogwarts fans will be lining up to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the last movie in the series based on the great adventure novels of J. K. Rowling, which opens July 15. And in honor of the event, GeekMom has joined with Kodak to give you a chance to show off your magical celebration of this momentous occasion.  For the next month, we’ll be giving away four packages that include the Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer and the Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2! (See entry information below…)

The Kodak Design Gallery Software lets you make your own fun Harry Potter printables using over 300 images and graphic elements. You can use it to make invitations, banners, collector cards, door hangers, posters, and lots more cool printable projects using images from the movies. It also includes a collection of Harry Potter crests, borders, patterns, icons, swatches, and phrases. Using the unique customization tools, you can add your own photos, type in your own text, draw, color, rotate and scale the images to create your own personalized designs. Or select a pre-designed template, add any special touches you want, and just print!

The Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer that will be included with all four giveaways is a wireless printer with an easy Wi-Fi setup. And it’s affordable — it’s priced at $99, and it uses KODAK 30 Series Ink Cartridges with the lowest ink replacement cost in the industry. Like all KODAK All-in-One Printers, the C310 Printer delivers crisp, sharp text documents, brilliant graphics, and KODAK Lab-Quality Photos that dry instantly and last a lifetime.

On Wednesday we’ll be sharing some of the designs made by GeekMom Jenny Williams and her family using the Kodak Design Gallery Software and the Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer. In the meantime, enter to win a Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2 DVD and a Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer of your very own by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post, telling us your plans for the culmination of the great Harry Potter movie series next month! You have until midnight Friday night to enter this week’s drawing. And we’ll have a drawing each week, so you have four chances to win!

We’d also love to see your Harry Potter-related photos and images, so put a link to them in your comment, or just add them to the GeekMom Flickr group! We’ll feature the best in future posts.

And be sure to visit Kodak.com for more Harry Potter goodness over the coming weeks. Thanks to Kodak for inviting GeekMom readers to be a part of their celebration!

(UPDATE: We’ll be giving away four Kodak packages, each with the Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2 DVD and the Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer!)