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Review: Magical Free Walking Tour by Strawberry Tours London

The following is an honest review of Strawberry Tours London’s Free Harry Potter Tour.

On an unusually hot and sunny afternoon in May, I found myself standing between M&M’s World and the Lego Store in London’s Leicester Square with around 20 other Potter fans. This was not a chance meeting of like-minded people. We were all eagerly awaiting a man with an umbrella who would take us on a tour through the sights of London that were the inspirations for locations in our favorite magical world.

Gringotts

The tour lasted 2.5 hours and was entirely on foot through busy central London. The tour is free and operates on a pay-what-you-feel policy, which means that it’s not only affordable but also that it draws in a decent-sized crowd. In the heat and crowds of Londoners, it was easy to fall behind, but our tour guide, Antonio (known to us as Hagrid), duly waited at each stop to make sure that every member of the group had caught up before beginning to tell us about the particular location.

The tour itself was split into two sections. First, we visited locations that can be seen in the films and the sights of the eight Potter premieres, followed by locations said to have inspired J.K. Rowling when she was creating wizarding London.

Diagon Alley

We knew we were in for a fun time when Hagrid made sure to check everyone’s forearms for Dark Marks before setting off. His upbeat personality did not wilt in the heat, and his knack for storytelling captured everyone’s attention from start to finish. There were trivia questions at every stop, and House points were awarded to those who answered correctly (go Hufflepuff for getting the 100-point question!).

I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of poetry and philosophy into the tour narrative, which invited us all to think more about how the world of Harry Potter often mirrors and reflects our own. Hagrid was very informative when it came to the filming locations in the city, especially when it came to explaining the adaptations made to each location to make it look like the final product we see on screen. He even brought along images from the films so we could play spot-the-difference between the London on screen and what was in front of us.

Knockturn Alley

The tour ended in Knockturn Alley with a rather poignant parting message from Hagrid. He told us that although people will try to squash our magic, the sights and locations we saw that day were proof that we can “create art out of reality [and make] something that is much more attractive.”

This tour is perfect for any Potter fan, and the pay-what-you-feel policy makes it accessible to anyone regardless of budget. It was exciting to be guided through the hidden magic of London by Hagrid, knowing that we were walking in the footsteps of J.K. Rowling and visiting places that inspired our beloved wizarding world.

For more information on Strawberry Tours, and to reserve your place on a tour, click here.

Lucy O'Shea

I was given a copy of Philosopher's Stone in 2001, and instantly, I was hooked. Since then, my passion for Potter has been equaled only by my passion for fair access to education (and watching motorsport). A spell I wish could exist in the Muggle world is the summoning charm because this Hufflepuff is not a "particularly good finder"!