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Channeling Harry Potter at Oxford’s Christ Church College

day trips from London

As a rather UK-obsessed person (shocking, I know -I’m sure you had no idea), it’s only normal that this level of obsession also covers iconic British things, such as tea, Arctic Monkeys, Kate Middleton, Colin Firth, and Union Jacks.

Oh and Harry Potter. Especially Harry Potter! The carefully constructed world of the young wizard takes life in one of the colleges of the famous Oxford University, the oldest and most prestigious university in the world.

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The carefully constructed world of the young wizard takes place in one of the colleges of Oxford, the oldest and most prestigious university in the world. But in reality, who cares about that historic stuff when you can set foot on one of the sets of Harry Potter!? (I’m only half-kidding – I’m well aware that Oxford University has a fascinating and riveting history but at the time I’m afraid my brain was in full Harry Potter mode).

As you can tell by the obviously forced smile on this picture, I was NOT happy to be roaming the halls of the Harry Potter movies.

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Harry Potter in Oxford – Christ Church College

When the 5th book came out, I was lucky enough to be working in a bookstore, which granted me access to an early copy of The Order of the Phoenix before it was on shelves. As soon as I finished my evening shift, I hurried home, locked myself in my bedroom, and started reading. I turned the last page of the book seven and a half hours later, completely exhausted and absorbed by the story, and went to sleep as the sun came out with a mind filled images my imagination had just created from reading. That was a decade ago.

If you look back on the first movie, you’ll notice the famous staircase scene when the wizarding trio arrives at Hogwarts and enters the Great Hall for the first time. That part was definitely not shot in a studio – it was filmed right there, where I stood! Unless you have a wide angle lens, it’s pretty hard to get a full shot of the staircase, but it’s a magical (pun intended) moment nonetheless.

The staircase

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The Great Hall

And now, the grand finale. Welcome to the Great Hall! While the movie version was shot in a studio (obviously, since, as you can probably imagine, the original one does not have a starry ceiling and floating candles), you can definitely understand how the Oxford version was the inspiration for the movies. The long tables, the high wooden walls and dozens of portraits are all present in both versions, and equally impressive.

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I’m pretty sure I dreamt of Harry Potter that night. But what I never imagined, at the time, is that I would eventually set foot in this very hall.

Disclaimer: I was offered a complimentary day trip by Grayline. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Marie-Eve

Marie is a native Montrealer trying to balance a deep love for her hometown and an unquenchable thirst for travel and discovery. She has been to more than 36 countries, lived abroad in both France and the U.K., and is always on the lookout for authentic experiences wherever she travels -- especially if it involves chocolate.