Believe it or not, the 16th of November 2021 will mark 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. 

view of Durham Cathedral central tower from the cloisters on a sunny day.

Durham Cathedral 

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was originally brought to life at Durham Cathedral. Many pivotal scenes were filmed at various locations throughout the cathedral for the first two movies – The Philosopher's Stone and The Chamber of Secrets.

Witches and Wizards pass through the covered walkways in-between classes, Harry and Hermione would confront Hagrid (many, many times), 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 in the cathedral cloisters. 

It was in the snow-covered cloisters where Harry releases Hedwig to stretch her wings and fly away over the snowy castle. You may recognise the cathedral as she flys off, which was digitally enhanced to look like the grand Hogwarts castle.    

The stunning Chapter House was once where the daily business of the monastery was undertaken, but in the Harry Potter movies it was transformed into Professor McGonagall’s classroom. It’s in this classroom where the students are taught transfiguration, how to turn animals into water goblets, where McGonagall surprises Harry and Ron as they arrive late to her lesson, and where the Professor reluctantly explains the history behind the chamber of secrets.

The Chapter House inside Durham Cathedral - Harry Potter filming location

May fans are surprised to find out that another well-known scene was filmed high up inside the Cathedral. 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 which leads to the Philosopher’s stone. 

Two kids dressed in wizard robes playing with wands inside the Chapter House, Durham Cathedral

The cloisters are open to visitors throughout the year, where you can strike a pose and recreate your favourite Harry Potter scenes, however 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. 

To mark this very special occasion, Durham Cathedral will be opening the Chapter House on Saturday 20 November, from 10am – 2pm. Harry Potter fans are invited to don their wizarding house colours and robes to explore McGonagall’s classroom, get a selfie in the cloisters and see if you can recreate your favourite scene from the movies.

The Cathedral is open Monday to Saturday 10am - 4pm and Sundays 12noon - 4pm.   

family eating picnic with Alnwick Castle clear in the background

Alnwick Castle

The magnificent Alnwick Castle, in Northumberland also had a starring role in the first two Harry Potter movies. 

The Outer Bailey was the backdrop for Harry and his fellow students first flying lesson in The Philosopher’s Stone. It’s here where when Neville’s broomstick goes off-piste and Harry flies through the grounds to catch his Remembrall. The Outer Bailey is also the spot where Harry learns the rules of Quidditch from Oliver, the Gryffindor Quidditch Team Captain.  

You can explore the grounds of the grand Alnwick Castle and imagine you’re part of Madame Hooch’s flying lesson by joining the resident wizarding professors for broomstick training sessions on the very spot where Harry had their first lesson. in the first film (Between March and October). 

The outer Bailey at Alnwick Castle

The castle’s grand courtyards and baileys were also used as backdrops as the Hogwarts students and teachers went about their daily business. 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 Lion Arch was used as a way in and out of Hogwarts, and can be seen in the background when Harry, Ron and Hermione make their way to Hagrid’s hut and the Forbidden Forest. And the castle's Inner Bailey was the spot where Ron and Harry crash land the Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia car into the Whomping Willow. 

Alnwick Castle is closed for the winter season, re-opening in Spring 2022.

children enjoying a magical Harry Potter inspired flying lesson at Alnwick Castle

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. 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 in four individually designed bedrooms with a wizardly, whimsical twist, or treat yourself to delicious food and potions in the adjoining Dirty Bottles restaurant. 

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! 

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