If you are looking for a different family treat this Christmas there is festive sparkle and magic at the Hogwarts at Christmas event at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour from 15th November until 6th January. The tour is an enchanting experience for any fan of the Harry Potter films, or simply fans of movies and cinema. It gives you an unique insight into the work of the thousands of people involved in creating the films and especially for Christmas, there are some extra special delights!
When you arrive at the studios your tour begins in a cinema with a short film introduced by the stars of the Harry Potter films Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. Then the magic begins and you step into the Great Hall, decorated with Christmas trees and festooned with holly. There is even snow falling outside the windows!
All of the eight Harry Potter films were recorded at the studios and the sets, costumes and props you see on the tour are original. The attention to detail is amazing and it opened my eyes to the huge number of creative people who worked on the films. From the Great Hall you wander through ‘The Big Room’ which is full of sets, costumes, vehicles and props including my highlight, the Horcruxes.
There is so much to take in and so much to see from the Gryffindor Common Room to the Potions Room. The Weasley’s Burrow is complete with knitting needles busy knitting away and bewitched knives chopping carrots for Christmas dinner! The Big Room really is enormous and you can easily spend over an hour finding out about the portraits individually painted for the films or you can feel the different types of ‘snow’ used to create the illusion of a wintry scene on the screen.
I also took the unique opportunity to try on a Hogwarts robe, fly on a broomstick in a green screen cubicle and zoom over the Thames, through busy London streets and take part in a game of Quidditch! The green screen experience is great fun and you can also take a ride in the flying Ford Anglia.
From the excitement and warmth of the Big Room we headed out into the Backlot, where you can see some of the exterior sets from the films. It is surreal to stand outside No.4 Privet Drive and peer through the windows of the Knight Bus from The Prisoner of Azkaban.
Outside in the Backlot you can enjoy a delicious glass of Butterbeer (every bit as good as J.K. Rowling describes in the Harry Potter books and non-alcholic so the kids can enjoy it too) and during the special Christmas season our Butterbeer drinking was accompanied by an artificial snowfall!
From the Backlot we visited Creature Effects, which is filled with prosthetics, animatronics and models all used in filming. We also walked through the Art Department which showcases some of the incredible architectural drawings for the set designs, white card models and concept art. It is an incredible display for any budding artist to see the vast number of creative people and processes involved in film-making.
A true highlight was walking down the set for Diagon Alley (where surely all wizards come to do their Christmas shopping?) and gazing through the window of Ollivander’s wand shop. You feel transported to a magical ‘other world’ as you wander down the cobbled street.
Then we came to the incredible scale model of Hogwarts, transformed for Christmas into a magical, wintry castle. It is mind-boggling in size and detail and stunningly beautiful.
You can walk around the entire model and as you wander the lighting changes from day to night. It is a breathtaking work of art and sure to capture the imaginations of adults and children.
Finally, you can spend time in the wand room. Everyone who worked on any of the eight films has a handmade wand box with their name on it. Every label is handwritten. There are thousands of them and I challenge you to find the wand box of the incredibly talented woman who began the Harry Potter phenomenon with a simple pen and paper, J.K. Rowling.
I didn’t believe that it could really take over three hours to get through the entire tour but there is so much to see that time magically ebbs away. There aren’t many interactive elements to the tour so I would hesitate to take curious toddlers under 4 years old, since there is a lot of looking at things, watching, experiencing and walking. For children who are captivated by the books or films or who are interested in film-making the tour is an incredible insight into how the films were made. The Hogwarts at Christmas event adds extra sparkle and excitement and it is incredible to see the scale model of Hogwarts covered in a dusting of fresh snow!
Enjoy Hogwarts at Christmas
If you want to enjoy Hogwarts at Christmas you must book your tickets in advance. All the details of the tour and information to help you plan your visit are on the Warner Bros Studio Tour website.
If you would like to see some other reviews of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour check these out:
Disclosure: I received a complimentary ticket to the Hogwarts at Christmas preview for the purposes of this review.