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Harry Potter's Britain

by Chris Kern

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman
Location Manager: Sue Quinn
Release Date: July 13

What to make of not-so-jolly olde England these days? In several recent movies, such as V for Vendetta, Children of Men, 28 Days Later, and now, 28 Weeks Later, England and the rest of the U.K. have been portrayed as a bleak, futuristic, dystopian wasteland.

Fortunately, a boy wizard is coming this summer to save the nation from yet more post-apocalyptic carnage.  Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) returns to theaters on July 13th for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth filmed installment in J.K. Rowling's magical saga, and he returns to a Britain that is as vibrant, modern, and fantastical as ever.

For muggles venturing "across the pond" this summer for a little sightseeing around Harry's favorite Quidditch grounds, here are a few locations from Order of the Phoenix and other Potter movies that Harry fans of all ages can visit, and some recommendations on where to eat and sleep like a member of the wizard community.

Featured Harry Potter Locations: London

Where to visit:

This famous Ferris wheel is the site of a wizard chase in the new Harry Potter movie.
This famous Ferris wheel is the site of a wizard chase in the new Harry Potter movie.
(Magical  Tours)
Harry at Kingís Cross train station. (© Warner Bros.)
Harry at King's Cross train station.
(Copyright Warner Bros.)
With all their might, tourists try to enter the Hogwarts dimension at this famed Kingís Cross platform.
With all their might, tourists try to enter the Hogwarts dimension at this famed King's Cross platform.
(Lizerne Guiting)

The London Eye
One of the newest and most popular attractions in London, this 135-meter tall Ferris wheel along the banks of the Thames River is one of several landmarks that can be seen in Order of the Phoenix's "wizard chase" sequence, where several members of "Dumbledore's Army" (Harry's Hogwarts student supporters) race on their brooms high above London toward a fight with Voldemort's loyal followers, the sinister Death Eaters. From your own "broom's eye" view atop the Eye, you'll be able to see many of the other notable London sights also featured in the climactic fly-over, including Big Ben, Parliament, Tower Bridge, and Buckingham Palace. For more info, call +44 (0) 870 990 8883.

Westminster Tube Station
When traveling around London on "the Tube," make sure to stop at this gorgeously modern glass and steel underground station, which serves the Circle, District, and Jubilee lines and is one of the key locations Harry and Mr. Weasley (Ron's father) visit when traveling to a Ministry of Magic hearing. Also keep an eye out just down the road from the station for a red telephone booth near Scotland Yard that was used by the filmmakers as the secret entrance to the Ministry of Magic. The Westminster tube station is located at the corner of Bridge Street and Victoria Embankment and serves the Circle, District, and Jubilee lines.

King's Cross Station
Any Harry Potter fans worth their Golden Sickles know that the Hogwarts Express departs every year from Platform 9 3/4 of King's Cross train station. And we're pleased to report that not only can Potter fans find a sign at King's Cross for "Platform 9 3/4", but they can also participate in a fantastic photo op there: pushing an actual baggage trolley-cart that's been embedded in the wall, halfway through the hidden Hogwarts dimension.  King's Cross station is also one of two locations in London where the actual setting in the book stood in for itself in the movie.  (The London Zoo, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is the other.) For more info, call +44 (0) 207 922 4931.

Where to eat:

The Red Lion
Located steps away from the Westminster tube stop, Parliament, and Big Ben, this venerable old pub has been serving pints of ale and bangers & mash to MPs (members of Parliament) and PMs (prime ministers) since the early 1900s, thanks to a location convenient to both the Parliament building and 10 Downing Street. 48 Parliament Street, SW1A 2NH, +44 (0) 871 984 3632.

Where to stay:

Novotel London Euston
There is no better place in London for weary muggles to rest their heads and catch some z-z-z-zs.  Just down Euston Road from King's Cross, the hotel features all the amenities a boy wizard could dream of, including London's only glass elevator.  Eat your heart out, Charlie! 100 - 110 Euston Road, NW1 2AJ, +44 (0) 207 666 9000.

Other Harry Potter Locations: The English Countryside and Scottish Highlands

Where to visit:

Oxford University provides the setting for Hogwarts Great Hall.
Oxford University provides the setting for Hogwarts Great Hall.
(Sabine Schrader)

Several locations in Oxford have been prominently featured in the Potter films. The Christ Church College Dining Hall at Oxford University has stood in for the Hogwarts Great Hall in all five Potter movies, and Bodleian Library, the university's main research center, has also doubled as Hogwarts Library.  Just outside of Oxford, in the town of Woodstock, stands Blenheim Palace, which has been featured in films such as Entrapment, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, and Mel Brooks' History of the World Part I.  It can be seen in Order of the Phoenix as well. For more info, call +44 (0) 186 572 6871.

Northern Englandís Hogwarts Castle appeared in the first two Harry Potter movies.
Northern England's Hogwarts Castle appeared in the first two Harry Potter movies.
(Alnwick Castle)

Alnwick Castle
Although Hogwarts Castle has been created exclusively through computer graphics since Prisoner of Azkaban, Alnwick Castle in Northumberland (northern England) was used for the interior and exterior shots of Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter movies, and has also been featured in Elizabeth and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It is open to the public during the summer. Alnwick Castle is located on the outskirts of Alnwick town, just over a mile from the A1, +44 (0) 166 551 0777.

Glenfinnan House Hotel
( - This 18th century Scottish stone mansion boasts stunning views of the Glenfinnan Viaduct's 21 arches - best known as the railroad bridge Harry and Ron fly their magical Ford Anglia automobile over, under, around, and through chasing after the Hogwarts Express in Chamber of Secrets. The hotel also sits on the banks of Loch Shiel, which doubles as the large lake next to Hogwarts,  and is just down Glenfinnan Bay from the Bonnie Prince Charlie monument, where Harry will be skipping stones this summer in Order of the Phoenix. Glenfinnan House Hotel is located in Glenfinnan, By Fort William, Highland Region, Scotland PH37 4LT. For more info, call +44(0) 139 772 2235.

Where to eat:

Clachaig Inn
The jagged, snowy peaks and wide green moors around the Scottish highland town of Glencoe have provided most of the stunning background shots for Hogwarts in all five Potter movies, and they are best enjoyed with a haggis sampler or Gorzet boar bangers from this charming, folksy "outdoor inn" that's not really outdoors. Clachaig Inn is located in Glencoe, Argyll, Scotland PH49 4HX. For more info call +44 (0) 185 581 1252.

Other Potter tours to take:

It should also be noted that numerous tour companies offer special "Harry Potter" tours that will take obsessed muggles all across London, England, and Scotland to various locations in both the Harry Potter books and movies.  Check out Magical Tours or Lynott Tours for more details. Magical Tours: 817-688-7468; Lynott Tours: (800) 221-2474.

Chris Kern is a novelist, children's book author, and entertainment industry veteran, and is the founder and president of Words & Wine.
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