Time flies! It’s hard to believe that on the 16th of November 2021 it’s 20 years since Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone first hit our screens!
To mark twenty magical years since November 2001, when the first film adaptation of J.K Rowling’s boy wizard was released in UK cinemas, we’ve created a muggles guide to Harry Potter filming locations you can visit here in North East England.
The magnificent Alnwick Castle had a starring role in the first two Harry Potter movies.
The Outer Bailey is instantly recognizable as the backdrop for Harry and his fellow students first flying lesson in The Philosopher’s Stone. In the scene Neville’s broomstick goes rogue and Harry flies through the grounds to catch his Remembrall. The Outer Bailey is also where Harry learns the rules of Quidditch from Oliver, the Gryffindor Quidditch Team Captain.
Explore the grounds of Alnwick Castle imagining you are part of Madame Hooch’s flying lesson and join the resident wizarding professors for broomstick training sessions on the very spot where Harry, Ron and Hermione had their first lesson.
© Alan Mason
Remember the scene in the Chamber of Secrets where Ron and Harry crash land the Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia car into the Whomping Willow, this was filmed at the castle’s Inner Bailey. The castle’s main courtyard was featured several times in both movies, including the scene where Harry and Ron complain about Hermione on their way to Potions lesion – “It’s LeviOsa not LeviosA”!
The splendid Lion Arch can be seen in the background when Harry, Ron and Hermione make their way to Hagrid’s hut and the Forbidden Forest.
Alnwick Castle is closed for the winter season, re-opening in Spring 2022.
Several Harry Potter films were filmed at Durham Cathedral in Durham. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was originally brought to life at Durham Cathedral. Numerous memorable scenes were filmed at various locations throughout the cathedral for the first two movies – The Philosopher's Stone and The Chamber of Secrets.
The cathedral clositers are where young witches and wizards pass through the covered walkways in-between classes, Ron’s "eat slugs" spell backfires and he ends up vomiting slugs after trying to defend Hermione’s honour, and Harry earns Dobby the House Elf his freedom.
It was in the snow-covered cloisters where Harry releases Hedwig to stretch her wings and fly away over the snowy castle. As she flies off you can see the cathedral digitally enhanced to look like the grand Hogwarts castle.
Once the area where the daily business of the monastery was undertaken, the magnificent Chapter House was transformed into Professor McGonagall’s classroom. It’s in this classroom that the students are taught the magic of transfiguration where they turn animals into water goblets and where the Professor explains the history behind the chamber of secrets.
© Durham Cathedral
Less well known is that the Triforium, which is an interior gallery overlooking the cathedral’s nave, doubled up as the Forbidden Corridor in which the young wizards encounter the terrifying three-headed dog Fluffy who is guarding a trap door leading to the Philosopher’s stone.
Recreate your favourite Harry Potter scenes when you visit the cloisters which are open throughout the year. The Chapter House is only open on special occassions and during events - so keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to step inside McGonagall's classroom. The Triforium is not open to the public.
The Cathedral is open Monday to Saturday 10am - 4pm and Sundays 12noon - 4pm.
Just a stone’s throw from Alnwick Castle you can sleep like a wizard, at the newly opened Hallow and Crux. Take your pick from four individually designed bedrooms with a wizardly, whimsical twist, or treat yourself to delicious food and potions in the adjoining Dirty Bottles restaurant. For witches and wizards looking to extend their stay when visiting Alnwick Castle, you can also stay at The Hog’s Head Inn, a three-star inn named after the wizarding inn and pub found in Hogsmeade.
The award-winning Lundgren Tours also offer family-friendly Harry Potter tours of Alnwick Castle, where you can learn how to become a wizard in the very same place as Harry and friends.
So if you’re a Potter fan, there's no need to wait for your invitation from Hogwarts, you can follow in the footsteps of Harry, Ron and Hermione any time you wish, by visiting the places where this incredible film franchise began!