Harry Potter holiday itinerary unveiled ahead of 20th anniversary

Scottish tourism chiefs have unveiled their first Harry Potter holiday itinerary to coincide with the 20th anniversary of JK Rowling's famous creation.

VisitScotland's new Harry Potter campaign has been launched ahead of the 20th anniversary of the first novel on Monday.
VisitScotland's new Harry Potter campaign has been launched ahead of the 20th anniversary of the first novel on Monday.

VisitScotland has created a tour-day trail for diehard fans of the literary sensation, which will take them from the historic heart of the capital city to some of the country’s most remote landscapes.

The Balmoral Hotel and the Elephant House cafe in Edinburgh, where the first and last novels were partly written, as well as spectacular film locations at Rannoch Moor, Loch Shiel and Glencoe, all feature in the new online guide.

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It includes the insight track on where to see JK Rowling’s handprints on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Ron Weasley’s Ford Anglia at the Bo’ness Motor Museum and the Scottish Owl Centre in West Lothian.

Also featured are the celebrated West Highland Railway line and the Jacobite steam train, which travels along the Glenfinnan Viaduct, one of the most famous locations from the films.

Addressing the famous origins of Rowling’s novels, the guide states: “It was in Scotland’s capital city that JK Rowling started to plot the adventures of Harry and his pals.

“With cobbled streets, winding alleys and medieval architecture, the city certainly has a few things in common with the settings from the books and films.

“She wrote the early chapters in various cafés around the city’s Old Town, before coming back to finish off the series from a peaceful suite in the Balmoral Hotel, away from all disruptions.”

The section on the Fort William to Mallaig railway line states: “Some say that the West Highland Line is the greatest rail journey in the world.

“In the summer, the Jacobite Steam train travels along the route in addition to the regular trains. The steam train had a starring role as the Hogwarts Express taking Harry from platform 9 ¾ all the way to Hogwarts.”

Jenni Steele, film manager at VisitScotland, said: “Harry Potter is a truly global phenomenon that has brought joy to millions of people of all ages over the last two decades.

“As ‘the birthplace of Harry Potter’, Scotland boasts numerous locations associated with the bestselling books and the blockbuster movies.

“Our handy new online itinerary allows fans to follow in the footsteps of JK Rowling as well as the boy wizard himself and enjoy a magical tour of Scotland.”

Donald Wilson, Edinburgh City Council’s culture leader, added: “As the original Unesco City of Literature and the home of Harry Potter, Edinburgh is a must-visit for anyone fond of JK Rowling’s wizarding world.

“From the author’s favourite places to pen her books, to the inspiration behind her characters’ names, no true Harry Potter fan can miss Edinburgh’s stops on the tourist trail.

“VisitScotland’s new drive is a great move for Scotland’s cultural tourism and should prove popular with our overseas visitors.”

The new VisitScotland campaign coincided with the release of an interactive map of Britain’s most magical sites.

VisitBritain’s guide, which has also been released to mark the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter, includes Loch Ness and the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye.