Are you still waiting for your Hogwarts letter? Well, let me be the first to tell you that you're not alone — I, for one, have been waiting since I was seven, so just about 16 years. The good news is, however, that you can go to the famous Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series without a letter. And no, I'm not just talking about taking a trip to Universal Studios' Wizarding World of Harry Potter , this is something so much more. So where exactly is the real Hogwarts? Get your passport ready.
I know what you're thinking — it won't be nearly as fulfilling to attend Hogwarts without a letter bearing its crest and Hagrid busting down your door, proclaiming, "You're a wizard [fill in your name here]!" But, I can tell you that it most certainly is. Over the course of the eight films that make up the Warner Bros. Harry Potter franchise, many of Hogwarts exterior shots were filmed at the Warner Bros. Studio in Leavesden. But, for the first two Potter films, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, — before it became a film phenomenon equal to its literary success — a real life castle stood in for your dream school. So, yes, you can visit a real Hogwarts that isn't a replication that houses a theme park ride at Universal Studios.
Where is this place, you ask? And can you Apparate onto the grounds in real life or do Rowling's rules still apply? If you've figured out how to Apparate, good for you — if not, here's what you need to know:
Located in Northumberland, UK, this castle has a recorded history of 1,000 years and for the past 700, it's been inhabited by the Percy family. It is one of Britain's most iconic and the largest inhabited castle in the UK. Which made it the perfect setting to fill the role of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in both Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets. The castle's website boasts that it held the starring role of Hogwarts and has been the setting for a variety of films and television shows. The best part? You can visit and even get married there.
Warner Bros. Studio, Leavesden
The Warner Bros. Studio in Leavesden became a home base for the Potter films for 10 years and houses this scaled model of Hogwarts castle that was used for many of the aerial shots included in the films. And again, you can visit it, but I'd recommend booking far in advance.
Universal Studios, Orlando/California
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter : Hogsmeade opened its gates in 2010, with its crowning feature being a scaled-up model of Leavesden studio's Hogwarts. It may not be the real thing, but you can actually get inside of this replica, which features recreations of Professor Sprout's greenhouse, the House Points jars, and Dumbledore's office. Oh, and there's a ride, too — if you're into that.
Images: Warner Bros., Alnwick Castle, Christine DiStasio/Bustle (2)