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An Afternoon at The British Library for Harry Potter: A History of Magic

Outside The British Library for Harry Potter: A History of Magic

It's hard to believe that Harry Potter has been a part of my life for 20 years; my love of the series has spanned a time longer than most of my non-familial relationships, and conjures memories of late-night binge-reading under-the-duvet way past my bedtime and being OBSESSED when the next volume was due to be published.

A Magical Evening at the Launch of Wizarding Wardobes at Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Horace Slughorn armchair pyjama suit

OK, so maaaaaaaaybe I have a slight obsession with the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden. The thing is, they keep reeling me in with shiny new exhibitions, giving me even more insight into the Harry Potter movies that I love so much. This time, there's a focus on the costumes and make-up that bring the best-loved (and hated) characters from the films to life, with Wizarding Wardrobes*.

Exploring the Forbidden Forest at Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Acramantula in the Forbidden Forest

Being a Harry Potter fan is the gift that keeps on giving. The magic of the books kept going through film, and even though it's been six years since the final movie there has been so much to keep us Potterheads obsessed. It doesn't have to be a brand new West End play (although I could talk about Cursed Child alllllllllll day every day), because the Warner Brothers Studio Tour evolves throughout the year. I've now visited four times and there is always something new to explore, and this time? It's the out-of-bounds Forbidden Forest.

Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London

Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Brothers Studio Tour, London

This year has been an incredible treasure trove of opportunities for me as a Harry Potter fan. I've seen Cursed Child TWICE, met stars of the films, and been invited to become an ambassador for JK Rowling's charity, Lumos. To top it all off, I was then invited to the launch of this year's Hogwarts in the Snow at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. I've visited the tour twice before but never over Christmas and I was unbelievably excited to see the sets looking festive.

Lumos Charity Gala at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Lumos Charity Ambassadors with Evanna Lynch

Sometimes, something amazing will drop into my inbox. Over and above the 15% ASOS discount for my birthday (although let's not lie, I totally used that) and the general newsletter nonsense that I forget I've subscribed to, there is an email to stop me in my tracks, throw down my phone and do a happy dance in my chair. And that's how I began my journey with Lumos.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Midnight Launch at Waterstones

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book and tickets

*SPOILER FREE*

For as long as I can remember, I've loved to read. I've been fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful people who have encouraged this passion, from my parents reading to me every night as a child, to friends recommending me something new.

At 10 years old, my teacher Ms McCarthy gave me a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to read. I, like millions of other children, fell in love with The Boy Who Lived.

Fashion: An iPhone Case a Day...


I've finally ditched the Android party and joined the iPhone brigade. I don't have a preference over the technical workings of the phones, I just wanted to give the iPhone a go. But iPhones make their owners inherently vain because it's so easy to 'pimp' your handset. I've started looking for a case for mine, but I can't choose just one!

Do I go for style or geek?

Style

Aztec design £11.04 from Fundakcases
Beaded design £64.30 from Shopbop
Customised Instagram case £22.11 from Casetagram
Studded case £10.38 from Shining Gift
Totem design case £22.15 from Society 6
William Morris case £12.99 from Decorative Designs
Geek

Robots case £22.15 from Society 6
TARDIS case £9.74 from Keep Calm Case On
Sherlock wallpaper case £24.72 from Redbubble
Hogwarts uniform case £24.72 from Redbubble
Marauder's Map case £24.72 from Redbubble
Sherlock '3 patch problem' £25.54 from Redbubble (and designed by my little sister!)

So how many cases do you have? Pretty tempted to just buy all my favourites and alternate every fortnight!

Geek: Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour


I've read every book, seen every film, queued outside Waterstones for Deathly Hallows and cried when Snape died. I'm not ashamed to say I bloody love Harry Potter. The opening of the Warner Brothers Studio Tour gives fans a chance to walk through the sets from the films, see props and costumes and geek the hell out. We bought our tickets in September and finally April 7th rolled round. As huge Harry Potter fans, me and my sister were literally bouncing all the way to Leavesden Studios (in the HP branded bus of course!) in Hertfordshire with sheer excitement. 


The shuttle bus from Watford Jct station to the studios
With our liquid eyeliner lightning bolt scars on our foreheads there was quite a lot of restrained squealing as we entered the building and saw huge cast photos all over the walls.

The cast photos around the entrance
The tour initially took us into a small cinema showing a history of the Harry Potter film series before the screen rolled up and, making us feel like 1st year Hogwarts students, revealed the famous doors to the Great Hall. They opened to reveal the real set all the films had been filmed in - with the long House tables, the wall carvings and flag stone floor. We were like kids in a candy store!

At the entrance to the Great Hall

Inside the Great Hall.
Top left: The house tables ready for a feast
Top right:The Hogwarts insignia above the fire
Bottom left: A place setting on the tables
Bottom right: The house points counter

And I couldn't resist re-enacting the scene from Philosopher's Stone where Professor Quirrel bursts in screaming 'TROLL IN THE DUNGEON!' My sister took a video and I'll add it when she's uploaded it!

We then made our way through various sections where sets had been set up of some of the most famous scenes. It was so bizarre to see all the familiar places we'd seen on screen a million times right in front of us!

Top left: Gryffindor 6th form common room
Top right: Harry's bed
Bottom left: Dumdledore's office
Bottom left: The Potions lab
And the original costumes could be seen too. It's testament to the costume designers and wardrobe staff that some really seemingly plain clothes like the pink v-neck jumper Hermione wears in a lot of Deathly Hallows Pt II is so recognisable even though Emma Watson isn't wearing it.

Left: Costumes from the Yule Ball. Right: Dumdledore's robes
Left: The invisibility cloak. Right: Prof Umbridge's pink combinations
The green screen area showed how amazing scenes like Quidditch matches and travelling to a vault in Gringotts area actually very bland. You have the props but no scenery, it's easy for us to imagine as we've already seen the film, but the actors have to...well...act!

Top left: Hagrid's bike and sidecar. Top right: Broomstick for Quidditch
Bottom: A car at Gringotts Bank
My favourite bit was seeing the masses of props that make the film have so much character. They were all recognisable and unique, it must be so much fun to come up with them!

Top left: The rules by Professor Umbridge
Top right: The Mirror of Erised
Bottom left: The Triwizard Cup and Golden Egg
Bottom right: Rita Skeeter's notebook and quick quotes quill
Top left: Hogwarts Express tickets
Top right: Potions ingredients
Bottom left: U-No-Poo sweets
Bottom right: Hogwarts' text book
The outside section of the tour allowed us to really indulge and get involved with the sets, from standing on the Knight Bus to visiting Privet Drive.

In the car from The Chamber of Secrets
And we got to taste Butterbeer! It was surprisingly nice actually!


Diagon Alley was so magical, it really was like being in the films! Walking through I got very snap happy as each shop was so unique and had signs, props, lights and exteriors completely unique to them. I loved Flourish & Blotts with it's Giledroy Lockhart display, and my sister (who has an unhealthy obsession with the Weasley twins) bounced right up to Weasley's Wizard Wheezes for a pic.

Top left: Scribbulus
Top right: Ollivander's
Bottom left: Flourish & Blott's
Bottom right: Weasley's Wizard Wheezes
The final section was the art department where we saw all of the intricate drawings and paper models used to plan scale models and CGI of buildings, vehicles and large props.

Models and sketches from the Art Dept section
The pièce de résistance was the, frankly, fricking HUGE model of Hogwarts. It was incredibly detailed and was actually used for the films with special effects used to shrink the actors rather than scale up the building!


The tour may have been finished but then we hit the gift shop. Oh dear. It was amazing! It had real props from the films all around and literally every souvenir you could wish for, from Hogwarts uniforms to Honeydukes sweets. I bought a Gryffindor scarf, and my sister got a replica of Dumbledore's elder wand and a Marauder's Map. 

If you love Harry Potter you MUST make the effort to go to this attraction. We had so much fun geeking out at all the authentic props and sets pretending we were witches in the making. I'm even tempted to go again...

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As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review