Accio Vacation: 6 Magical Harry Potter Experiences You Can Only Have in Europe

Travel insights from Jenna Buege, contributing editor of The Compass

Accio Vacation: 6 Magical Harry Potter Experiences You Can Only Have in Europe

Are you still waiting for your Hogwarts acceptance letter to arrive in the mail? Owl delivery service can be slow, take your magical future into your own hands with a trip to the fabulous world of Harry Potter in Europe.

Warner Bros Tour

A place where your favorite moments come to life, Warner Bros Studio in London is where scenes featuring the Great Hall, Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley and Platform 9 ¾ were filmed. Today the studio is jam-packed with priceless Hogwarts memorabilia, authentic props and original costumes. While on the studio tour you’ll learn about Dolores Umbridge’s enchanted kitten decor, say “hello” to Aragog and have the chance to take your best stab at parseltongue in an attempt to unlock the Chamber of Secrets.

City Sight-Seeing

After exploring the movie magic at Warner Bros, head to the streets of London for an inside look at even more famous filming locations. HP-themed sight-seeing tours are popular in the city and can be taken via foot or by bus. Once the muggles are adjourned and the tour begins, you’ll visit popular wizard hangouts like the Leaky Cauldron, Diagon Alley, the visitors’ entrance to the Ministry of Magic and Knockturn Alley. In addition, tour groups convene near the bridges which members of the Order of the Phoenix flew en route to Grimmauld Place and stop at several locations where the Death Eaters wreaked havoc on the wizarding world.

One thing worth noting is that you may need a tube card depending on which tour you choose so be sure to do some research ahead of time.

Hogwarts IRL

While the iconic School of Witchcraft and Wizardry may be fantasy, many scenes were filmed in real places. External shots of Hogwarts in the first film were recorded at England’s Alnwick Castle including the scene where Harry learns to ride a broom. Fast-forward to year two where transfiguration class was taught at England’s Durham Cathedral. Those wild moving staircases featured throughout the series are none other than those of Oxford’s Christ Church College. Remember when Mad-Eye Moody turned Malfoy into a ferret in Goblet of Fire? You can visit Oxford’s New College on Holywell Street and recreate the scene for yourself. After such an extreme transformation, a trip to Hogwarts’ Hospital Wing might be in order found at the Divinity School of Oxford University.

The sites listed above are just a few of many magical filming locations throughout Europe.

Hit the Big Stage

Have you ever wondered about Harry’s life as an adult? What about his son, Albus? The eighth installment in the Harry Potter series, The Cursed Child, aims to answer these questions and is the first of the stories to be presented on stage. If you’re looking to score some tickets for the show during your time in London, visit the Palace Theatre or harrypottertheplay.com.

Spend the Night

Are you a next-level witch or wizard? Consider staying overnight at a Harry-Potter-themed hotel. London’s Georgian House offers rooms in what they refer to as the “Wizarding Chambers” where guests can fully immerse themselves in a room decorated to rival the Gryffindor common room. The hotel’s Wizarding Chambers even have their own secret entrance, if that isn’t mystical enough for you, I don’t know what is.

The American Horror Story Guide to New Orleans

New Orleans‘ rich history made for the perfect setting for season three of American Horror Story, Coven. From Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau to deranged mass murderer Delphine LaLaurie, these figures weren’t just characters in a TV show – they were real people who lived out their days in The Big Easy and left their mark on the city forever.

Now, AHS did take a few artistic liberties. For example, Laveau and LaLaurie weren’t sworn enemies; in fact, they weren’t even alive during the same time period. But AHS also got some things right, in addition to crafting Gris-Gris bags for healing and good luck, Marie Laveau really was a hairdresser and Delphine LaLaurie was indeed as dark and sinister as portrayed.

If you find yourself in NOLA and want to do some Coven-inspired sight-seeing, here are a few stops you won’t want to miss.

Marie Laveau’s Tomb

Nestled in the famed St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, you’ll need to join a tour group to experience this piece of living history as it’s closely monitored by the archdioceses of New Orleans Catholic Cemeteries. Now you might be wondering, what is the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans doing buried in a Catholic cemetery? A great question and you might be surprised to find that Marie Laveau was a devout Catholic all her life who did not find it unusual to incorporate traditional voodoo rituals into her spiritual practice. Laveau became an important religious leader in the area as she led weekly ceremonial meetings and worked closely with individual clients in addition to performing acts of community service.

LaLaurie Mansion

Referred to by many as the “Cruel Mistress of the Haunted House,” Delphine LaLaurie and her home on Royal Street will forever go down in history as of one of New Orleans’ most disturbing discoveries. Part of a wealthy and politically powerful family, Delphine was married three times and had always owned slaves. It wasn’t until she and her husband Louis LaLaurie began having martial disputes that she was rumored to have gone mad, and then came the fire of 1834.

On April 10, 1834, a large fire consumed the LaLaurie Mansion in the midst of a lavish dinner party, revealing seven slaves who were tortured, chained and starved on the third floor of the building. The slaves had suffered inhumane graphic experiments; most of which are not fit for print. Appalled by the horrors within the LaLaurie Mansion, townspeople gathered and rioted in a rage, destroying and looting the home until it was nearly demolished. And what of Delphine? Amidst the chaos, Delphine LaLaurie managed to escape and is rumored to have lived out the rest of her days in Europe, never paying for her sins.

Hermann-Grima House

Considering that the LaLaurie Mansion is thought to be cursed, it was probably in everyone’s best interest that the scenes depicting the home were filmed off-site at the Hermann-Grima House. A well-preserved and restored 19th-century home, the Hermann-Girma House was home to many generations of families before becoming the popular St. Louis Street tourist spot that it is today.

Buckner Mansion

Also known as Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, the Buckner Mansion acted as the beloved Coven house of season three. This must-see residence is located in New Orleans’ stunning garden district among lush greenery and historic homes.

Built in 1856, the Buckner Mansion was once owned by Henry Sullivan Buckner, a cotton boss of the Mississippi. The home features a unique cast-iron fence, 48 fluted columns and three ballrooms. Since this is spooky New Orleans, it’s also worth mentioning that the mansion is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Miss Josephine, a slave from Civil War times. Miss Josephine is a friendly ghost and people have reported sounds of her sweeping the stairs followed by the scent of fresh lemon in the foyer.