Prepare to feel old, because today marks TWENTY years since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Just to put that into perspective, that same year saw the Spice Girls hit number one with ‘Wannabe’ and ‘Titanic’ smash records at the box office.
Events are being held all over the UK to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book, which has since spawned one of the most successful movie franchises in history and made its author J.K. Rowling a national treasure.
Cruisers can get in on the action at Alnwick Castle, a grand estate located just 35 miles from the Port of Tyne, a destination that appears on many British Isles cruise itineraries. The castle may look rather familiar indeed to Harry Potter fans. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was filmed on location here in 2000, with the castle playing the part of Hogwarts again in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets the following year too. From the Outer Bailey, where Harry and his fellow Hogwarts students learned to fly broomsticks and play Quidditch, to the Inner Bailey in which Harry and Ron Weasley crash-landed the family car, Alnwick Castle feels strangely familiar to fans of the Boy Wizard.
Make like Master Potter and join Alnwick Castle’s resident wizarding professors for a Broomstick Training session, learning to fly on the very same spot Harry himself did in that very first film. There is no age limit and the 20 minute classes are free with your entry ticket, taking place several times a day.
Alnwick Castle has plenty on offer even if your broomstick flying days are over, hence its popularity as a shore excursion from the Port of Tyne. The interior State Rooms of the castle were inspired by those in the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Especially opulent is the Library, which occupies a whole floor of the castle’s large tower and houses almost 15,000 books in lavish surroundings.
Artists will appreciate The Northumberland Collection; paintings, furniture and ceramics which make up one of the most important collections of fine and decorative art in the UK, aside from the Royal Collection. Daredevils can brave a tour of the dark Lost Cellars that lie deep within the castle’s walls and the green-fingered can visit The Alnwick Garden. Part of the Alnwick Castle estate, the 12-acre walled garden has been transformed over the years from an overgrown patch of forgotten land, to become one of the world’s most impressive modern gardens.
Find out more about excursions to Alnwick Castle and its summer of Harry Potter events here.