Much like Mary herself, we flew into London on a blustery day (with a rather bumpy plane landing). Smart shirts on, and even smarter manners ready, off we headed to a story book afternoon tea extravaganza at The Shard, Mary Poppins style. A mirrored menu was shared with us all, any special dietary requirements consulted.
We began with a choice of fruity teas, coffee or proper hot chocolate. Adults could choose from some medicine bottles full of champagne. Solo in charge of these 3 for the afternoon I didn’t partake, tea it was.
Napkins tucked in, the first course arrived. Miss 6 was delighted with the delectable crumpets and smoked salmon, Mary’s choice of course. A selection of classic English sandwiches- cheese and pickle, crab and cucumber, ham salad and egg mayonnaise served on a range of breads.
Mary Poppin’s bag itself arrived, and from it fresh hot scones appeared. We all smothered them in fresh jam and clotted cream. Delicious!
Then, a wonderful cake stand floated in to the table, standing on Mary’s boots and topped by a wonderful umbrella, three layers of delicious sweet treats. We enjoyed a ‘strike me pink’ sponge, Mrs Corey’s gingerbread star, a ‘back to front zoo’ golden syrup tart and Mary’s cherry filled chocolate mousse hat with an edible flower on top. Practically perfect!
Finally, when it was nearly time to descend from the epic citywide view from the 32nd floor of the Shard in the AquaShard restaurant, freshly spun raspberry candy floss. Our ever smart waiter offered everyone who wanted a second candy floss stick.
The children made a good go of the full range, I was beat! So a little doggy bag came away with us. The views from the aqua shard across London are fabulous. Miss 6 was taken with the bathrooms and the fancy sofa. The attention to detail was fabulous. A pricey but special treat enjoyed by my 3 who had strangely impeccable manners throughout!!
We’ve just returned from the most magical weekend in London, perfect for the biggest wizarding world fans. Miss 10 is a big fan of everything J.K Rowling has created, and in essence of our continued gifting of experiences not stuff, she received some tickets for Christmas this year. Together we’ve designed a magical other worldly itinerary for any wannabe witches or wizards in London Town!
Start the day with a wonderful walking tour exploring all the actual and inspirational places for the Harry Potter movies. We toured with Tours for Muggles accompanied by Ellie Lovegood (Luna’s cousin of course). We went around many of the key sites from the movies- learnt about the challenges in filming in central London with all the crazy potterhead fans. Starting around the Tower Bridge area we saw the Borough markets (a good spot for lunch even if the Leaky Cauldron doesn’t quite look the same) we explored the area. Now experts on the range of bridges and the inspiration for Azkaban (well the English inspiration in Clink prison anyway), we took a tube to Westminister and retraced Mr Weasley and Harry’s footsteps on the way to the Ministry of Magic. A dander (walk for all you non Northern Irish) through Trafalgar Square to the inspirations for Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley before ending near Leicester Square. Ellie was able to answer all questions, and full of great wizarding knowledge.
Exploring inspiration for the prison of Azkabahan
Diagon Alley inspiration?
An afternoon well spent is at the Potion Room in Soho’s Cutter and Squidge. A magical interactive afternoon tea- with potion brewing (I make a mean galaxy drink), a crackling cauldron to blow your head off, and a full spread of very English magical inspired savoury and sweet delicacies. Dressed in robes, in the beautifully adored basement, seated at school desks, our potion making class was delivered by a fabulous in character wizard. Full to the brim, we ended with a lovely treat from the sweet trolley! Great fun, immersive and delicious- a great afternoon out.
Then to retire to the Wizard Chambers in the Georgian House Hotel. Situated near Victoria station, the hotel has dedicated a number of rooms to detailed wizarding theming. Through a secret bookcase, we came up to our magical room, with potions, brews, old style furniture and lighting we were transported to a different time. There was even a secret passageway to the Ministry of Magic down the toilet if you dared! A comfy 4 poster bed meant for a good night’s sleep after walking all those steps! Sweet magical dreams.
Next morning, following a delicious wizarding breakfast (included in the stay) head for the Palace Theatre in the West end for the enthralling Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It is split in two parts – we did them both in the same day, some people choose two consecutive nights. Tickets must be bought well in advance, but there’s also the weekly Friday Forty when 40 tickets are released for the next week’s shows for the total price of £40.
The play is absolutely mind blowing, a full day in the theatre went in a flash! Keeping to the #keepthesecrets we won’t say too much. Other than go go go go!!! A little scary in places perfect for Potterheads aged around 8 plus! Miss 10 did jump out of her skin a few times but was totally spell bound! The end leaves you ready for the next part instantaneously!
There’s a few hours gap between the two performances- we grabbed a pizza and had time for a visit to the House of MinaLima. A wonderful exhibition of the graphic artwork of two of the main designers on the Harry Potter movies has been curated in a 3 story building in Greek street just around the corner from the theatre. Free to enter, and lots of wonderful prints to purchase should you desire. It covered all the movies including the more recent Fantastic Beasts. Lovely way to pass a little time.
Back to the theatre, for the second splendid part. Gripped throughout, the magical performances, wizardy set design, spell binding music, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child lives up to the high expectations. A new production, that my theatre loving one now has in her eye for future treading the boards! In our case, a short wait at stagedoor resulted in some lovely chats, magical memories and the important signed merch for the theatre wall at home! What a day- time to rest those weary legs (a different type of weary from all the sitting today).
(Caveat we didn’t do this part this time, but did go 2 summers ago, but would make a perfect part to a 3 day magical weekend).
Up early and off to the famous Warner Brothers’ studios to see The Making of Harry Potter. We caught a train to Watford Junction (about 1 hour outside of Central London but easy on public transport), then we jumped on the themed double decker bus and in no time we were transported to the magical studios.
After seeing Harry’s under the stairs bedroom, we inspected the table settings in the Great Hall and took in the sights of the sets, props and costumes from the movies.We wandered along the cobbles of Diagon Alley, gazed at Dumbledore’s bookcases and saw many videos of the making of the movies. After a lovely cool butterbeer, we headed to peer through the windows of number 4 Privet Drive and a quick photo with the Knightbus.
A highlight for me was the model of Hogwarts itself. Built to 1:24 scale, it was used in the exterior shots for the first six films. The attention to detail is incredible- more than 3000 fibre optic lights fitted inside and turned on as the night sky darkens.
We met some fantastical beasts including buckbeak, flew across London on a broomstick (well with the help of a green screen), and saw Dobby in model form.
Incredible, detailed, and perfect for Potter fans of any age. The gift shop is pricey, but the chocolate frogs went down well! A great day out.
We arrived into Kings Cross station on our train from the airport which was perfect for a quick search for platform 9 3/4. You can queue up for a photo- it can be super busy so go for early in the morning, or later at night. The Harry Potter Shop takes photos that you can buy inside, but we were happy snapping on our phones! Quick browse around the gift shop for any other purchases too.
Primark in Oxford street has a dedicated Harry Potter section- perfect for some cheaper inspired purchases.
There you have it, our recommendations for a magical wizarding weekend in London! Let us know what you think and if you give any of it a go.
Tickets for the cursed child, the potion room, and rooms in the Wizarding chambers all book out in advance. The WB studios also can book out so get that sorted too. So if you are planning a wizarding weekend get those reservations in place, otherwise you will be staying with the muggles in the rest of London.