How to Get the Full Harry Potter Experience In London

First came the books, then the films; now the world premiere of the play is here.

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts I and II,” co-written by JK Rowling, is on stage at Palace Theatre from June 7.

The play is set 19 years after the last book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Harry is now a husband, father of three and an overworked employee of Ministry of Magic—an organisation that preserves magical law. As his youngest son Albus wrestles with his inherited powers, Harry has issues of his own. His archenemy, the evil Voldemort, may have been conquered but Harry is still haunted by his past.

The show is directed by the Olivier and Tony Award–winner John Tiffany, best known for the West End’s musical show “Once”. Details are under wraps, but with special effects by Jeremy Chernick—who’s worked on Cirque du Soleil’s “Wintuk” and “America’s Got Talent”—expect to be blown away.

Unusually, the play is too long for a single show, so to see it all you need to buy tickets to both parts; watch them on the same day or two consecutive evenings. Alas, it’s fully booked until 2017, but call for potential return tickets.

Unlucky? You can still keep the story of Harry Potter alive, says JK Rowling. “No story lives unless someone wants to listen. So whether you come back by page or by big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

So let the stories you know and love pop off the page by visiting these film locations around London. Let’s take you on a tour of the city!

London Zoo

The zoo’s reptile house is featured in the first film, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” After Harry speaks to a Burmese python, he makes its tank glass disappear, causing his annoying cousin Dudley to fall in as the snake escapes. ‘Thanksss!’ While there, check out the Asiatic lions in the new Land of the Lions.


Leadenhall Market

The opticians in Bulls Head Passage, by Leadenhall Market, is the entrance for the Leaky Cauldron wizard’s pub in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” The magicians passed through it to access stalls in Diagon Alley. A 14th-century meat market, it’s now home to shops, cafes and wine bars. Note its ornate roof.


Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station

Hogwarts Express departed for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from this platform. To find it, Harry would run into a wall between platforms 9 and 10. Visit the entrance to the real platform 9 and you’ll find a trolley disappearing into a wall and the sign for Platform 9¾.


St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

The neo-gothic façade of this hotel, next to King’s Cross station, is the entrance to the station in the films. Eagle-eyed fans might remember when Harry and Ron parked Ron’s dad Mr Weasley’s Ford Anglia here, before flying it to Hogwarts in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” Sip cocktails in Booking Office Bar or enjoy the spa pool.


Borough Market

Leaky Cauldron moved from Leadenhall to Borough Market for the third film, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” Following a hair-raising journey over Lambeth Bridge—‘Little old lady, 12 o’clock!’—the triple-decker Knight bus bumps into a car outside Chez Michéle florist at 7 Stoney Street. Go early and try the market’s regional produce.


Millennium Bridge

This suspension bridge featured in the sixth film, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” when Voldemort ordered Death Eaters to attack it. The bridge collapsed into the Thames, killing muggles (non wizards). Cross from Tate Modern on the South Bank over to St Paul’s Cathedral.


Piccadilly Circus

This major intersection features in the seventh film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.” While escaping Death Eaters, Harry, Ron and Hermione just miss being hit by a double decker outside what is now Gap. The statue of Eros is a handy meeting point outside Criterion Theatre.


Warner Bros Studio

On a studio tour, Harry, Ron and Hermione discuss the films on screen before you’re led into the Great Hall. You then see costumes, props and the steam train Harry took to Hogwarts’ before ‘flying’ on broomsticks.


Westminster tube station

Harry and Mr Weasley ride this station’s escalators in the fifth film, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” en route to Harry’s hearing at Ministry of Magic. Mr Weasley uses his hand instead of an Oyster card and is puzzled when the barriers don’t open. ‘Trains underground! Ingenious, these muggles!’ The station closed for a day during filming. It’s close to Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.


Did you know? You can book the Harry Potter Walking Tour here:

Why Are London Buses Red?


As a symbol of London city, the red double-decker is up there with Big Ben and Tower Bridge. But did you ever wonder why the colour was chosen?
One theory holds that early prototypes were painted red as a warning to other drivers — as though to say ‘keep your distance; this thing’s experimental’. These German test vehicles were known as ‘Rotmeisters’ (translates as red master [vehicles]), a name corrupted to Routemasters by the British public when the buses were put into active service without a colour change.

It’s an intriguing theory. Unfortunately, we just made it up, and the truth is more prosaic.

You have to go back to 1907, when most buses were still horse-drawn, to witness the crimson dawn. Before that time, buses came in all manner of shades, with rival companies operating different routes. In 1907, the London General Omnibus Company rouged-up its entire fleet in an effort to stand out from the competition. The LGOC soon became the largest bus company, and its livery came to dominate the streets. When London Transport formed in 1933, it extended the convention to most (though not all) London buses, a decision whose effects remain with us today.

What’s the shade?

A quick glance through Transport for London’s colour standards guide reveals that buses under its purview should be coloured in Pantone 485 C (which corresponds to RGB 218, 41, 28; see here). This popular hue is also used on the tube roundel and Central line, as well as by Royal Mail, Kit Kat, McDonald’s and the Russian flag.

Actually, London buses aren’t all that red

Victoria BusesBut there’s a snag. The surfaces of London buses are mostly not red. This becomes clear when seen from above. Here’s a view we somehow managed to get from Victoria station.

As you can see, bus roofs are largely white, to reflect sunlight and thereby reduce heating in summer. We’ve never checked, but we’d be willing to bet that their underbellies aren’t red, either. Now subtract the area taken up by the windows and adverts — the latter can encanker the whole backside of a bus. We’d guess that the typical vehicle is only 30-40% red.



At any given time a small percentage of London’s buses don’t feature any red at all. This symbol of London city is in danger of disappearing. The London red bus might actually be a red herring



Visit Our ETS website to jump one one of the Red Buses