It seems that 2017 will be a spellbinding year for fans of the Harry Potter books and films. Not only have we enjoyed the release of the spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them at the end of 2016, as well as the release of the script for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, to further whet our wizarding appetites, but there are lots of exciting Potter-related events and activities that have already been unveiled for the year ahead.
The theatre production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” (Parts One & Two) – which is the eighth story in the phenomenally successful series – continues to run at the Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London. More tickets were released earlier this month for performances taking place as far in the future as February to April 2018…! However, there is still an outside chance of snapping up a ticket this year, if you’re lucky enough to secure a late-release ticket, one that has been returned, or one of the ‘Friday Forty’ release. The play has received excellent reviews, and visits Harry when he is a parent of three children, and an overworked employee at the Ministry of Magic. You can see more about the play on the website. You may have read the book, but it’s always good to see a script brought to life on the stage, and the show’s incredible popularity, is testament to the enduring appeal of the world of Harry Potter, and the huge appetite that still remains, for continuing the story.
Another exciting prospect for the year ahead, is the chance to explore (tentatively!) the Forbidden Forest at the Warner Bros Studio Tour The Making of Harry Potter. This enticing new addition to the already impressive attractions on offer here, opens on 31st March 2017 and promises to allow us mere muggles to follow in the footsteps of Harry, Ron and Hermione. It’s not called ‘Forbidden Forest’ for nothing though, so there are a few surprises hiding amongst the trees, waiting to be discovered.
One of the really cool-sounding things that you can do, as you stroll through the forest of imposing trees, is control the weather, which is a great power to have at your disposal! As the forest is also home to a host of magical creatures, under the care of loveable caretaker Hagrid, there are lots of them to encounter as you wend your way through – including the formidable Aragog and Buckbeak.
The Forbidden Forest experience is a permanent expansion, which is included in the standard ticket price of entry to the Studious, that includes a cornucopia of Potterhead delights including The Great Hall, The Hogwarts Express and Diagon Alley.
Take a look at the website for full details of ticket prices and planning your visit.
Completing this trilogy of delights is a Harry Potter-inspired wizarding school, set to open in Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, for a magical weekend from August 11th this year.
Bothwell School of Witchcraft will be run by the team behind the famed College of Wizardry in Czocha Castle, Poland and New World Magischola, USA. It is surprising that a live-action-roleplay experience of this kind and on this scale hasn’t been done before in the UK, so it should be a great success – even if it is a bit pricey at a cost of £400 – £500 for 2 nights’ accommodation, and full-board.
The fairytale Herstomnceux Castle boasts a few ghosts already, and they will no doubt be joined by an enthusiastic gang of apprentice witches and wizards, keen to take lessons in potions, care of Magical Creatures and Defence against the Dark Arts, who may well also get involved with solving a magical mystery or two that could crop up over the weekend.
Herstmonceux Castle is a fairytale setting worthy of hosting the event. Set in the depths of the sleepy East Sussex countryside, the magnificent red-brick castle boasts turrets, crenellations, a spooky dungeon, and is surrounded by a moat. The labyrinthine interior will be ideal for recreating the atmosphere and character of Hogwarts, as students make new friends and explore all that the event has to offer.
Herstmonceux is a small village in East Sussex, which is close to Battle, where the Battle of Hastings famously took place in 1066. The seaside towns of Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings are also nearby, as well as the lovely medieval town of Rye. Visitors may decide to extend their stay to also include a longer stay in 1066 Country, as there is plenty of history, pretty countryside and local attractions to visit. Visit 1066 Country.
Whilst not strictly Harry Potter related, my daughter and I are currently enjoying watching ‘The Worst Witch‘ on CBBC on Wednesdays at 4.30pm. Starring a stellar cast of Kacey Ainsworth, Wendy Craig and Raquel Cassidy (among many others), along with a talented cast of young actors, this fun new series, takes me back to reading the Jill Murphy books, when I was a lot younger than I am now! If you watch and listen carefully, there are a few crossovers with Harry Potter, with mandrake roots breaking down in tears during potions classes, and Miss Hardbroom’s icy tones and dour demeanour bearing more than a passing resemblance to the legendary Severus Snape.
So, sounds like 2017 will be a bumper year for all Harry Potter fans, and, hopefully, enchanting in more ways than one!