Over the past few years, York has become a hotspot for Harry Potter fans visiting the UK. They come in droves to see the infamous shopping street, The Shambles, which inspired Diagon Alley. There are a couple of other Harry Potter related activities worth checking out in York such as the Harry Potter filming locations in York and Goathland Stations.
Keep on reading to find out all you need to know about Harry Potter in York!
The Shambles is a medieval shopping streets in York but it was also the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films. Walking down these narrow alleyways, it’s easy to see the resemblance between this road in York and the fictitious magical alleyway we see in the Harry Potter movies.
The timber-framed buildings date back as far as the fourteenth century and the term “Shambles” actually used to be a term for a slaughterhouse and meat market! There is still some evidence that this street used to be lined with butchers as there are still meathooks hanging on the walls.
Today, the butchers are all gone and the street is lined with quaint local shops, boutiques and cafes. The shop fronts have all been restored and The Shambles was even named the most picturesque street in Britain in the Google Street View Awards!
York, YO1 7LZ
York Rail Station
Every Potter fan knows that the Hogwarts Express departs from King’s Cross London on the 1st September each year. Right? Well… not always.
Some of the railway scenes are actually filmed in York.
Yeah, that was my reaction too – we’ve all been fooled!
The pedestrian bridge across the platforms at York Station is used as a Harry Potter filming location in The Philosopher’s Stone. It looks quite different today though as the barriers are now made of plastic rather than thick metal beams.
In this scene, Hagrid is taking Harry to Platform 9 3/4 for the very first time and they stop on the bridge so that Hagrid can give Harry his ticket.
“Blimey is that the time?”
Hagrid’s vanished before Harry can even finish questioning whether a Platform 9 3/4 can exist! Thankfully Harry soon sees the Weasley family rushing to the Platform and they give him a helping hand. By this point though, filming is back at King’s Cross – just like magic.
York, YO24 1AB
National Railway Museum
Unfortunately you won’t find the Hogwarts Express here, but hidden deep inside the National Railway Museum there is a Platform 9 3/4 plaque. As the plaque is in the North Shed, where there’s a jumble of Railway related items, there’s no real explanation of why it’s there. I’m guessing it may have been from when the Olton Hall, the train used as the Hogwarts Express, was displayed here in York National Railway Museum.
As the Platform 9 3/4 sign is hung beneath a very large statue (pictured), it shouldn’t be too hard to find. It’s located towards the back of the shed so walk all the way to the end and then turn back to look for the sign.
Visiting York National Railway Museum
Entry to the museum is free.
York YO26 4XJ
10am – 5pm in winter (from 5 November 2018)
10am – 6pm in summer
The Shop That Must Not be Named
There are now three Harry Potter shops in York and The Shop That Must Not Be Named is the most popular as it’s usually the one with the longest queue. And yes, you will probably have to queue to even enter the shop. The Potter mania in York is real! It can get very crowded in here so try to visit as early as possible in the day.
This is definitely my favourite shop out of the three as it stocks a number of unique Harry Potter gifts and items of memorabilia that are not stocked in the other stores. There are lovely items such as Harry Potter themed bags and purses, Butterbeer, wands, robes and more.
The interior of the store also feels like something that would actually be on Diagon Alley and the staff are all dressed like wizards! There’s Harry Potter music playing as you shop, lights hanging from the ceiling and there’s just something very special about The Shop that Must Not Be Named.
York YO1 7LX
10am – 6pm every day
The Boy Wizard
The Boy Wizard is the Harry Potter shop with the bright red front so you simply can’t miss it. Here you’ll find some official Harry Potter merchandise including posters, mugs, Quidditch outfits and more. The things they stock here are the Harry Potter merch items that I’ve seen sold for years and years and they are often discounted so check out The Boy Wizard for great Harry Potter deals.
York YO1 8BL
World of Wizardry
World of Wizardry is quite similar to The Shop That Must Not Be Named with its navy front and hanging lights. Find cushions, scarves, Butterbeer and more here. There’s usually a Hogwarts student waiting outside to welcome you too! The main focus here is obviously Harry Potter but in a corner at the back you will find some merchandise for other fantasy series such as Game of Thrones.
York YO1 7LX
Goathland Railway Station
Whilst all the Harry Potter spots in York above can be found in the city centre, Goathland Railway Station is in North York Moors National Park. This is just under two hours away by train from the centre of York so it’s not exactly close but it’s well worth making a day trip to visit the station that doubled up as Hogsmeade Station in the Harry Potter films.
You can make a day trip from York to the Moors and combine a trip to Goathland Railway Station with a trip to Whitby Abbey, which is where Bram Stoker found his inspiration for Dracula.
On your way to Whitby you can ride a train that looks very similar to that used as the Hogwarts Express, though it’s not the exact same model. The train used in the films is an Olton Hall but the steam locomotives owned by NYMR are models: BR Standard, LNER or LMS. You can read all about their NYMR steam locomotives here.
A Whitby / Goathland Return ticket costs £23 per adult and £10.50 per child and you can find out more on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Website.
Now there are a couple of Harry Potter tours in York that you might find floating around on the internet but I actually recommend that you don’t go on one. There is only one Harry Potter filming location in York city centre and it is a very minor one so there is little point attending one of these supposed Harry Potter tours.
I actually planned to include links to some that are available in this post but having scoured reviews, it appears the “Harry Potter” element is severely lacking, even if the tour guide’s knowledge of York itself is extensive.
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