Harry Potter and the Spontaneous Guide to Edinburgh

The improv gang of witches and wizards give us a magical guide to the city of Edinburgh for families

feature (edinburgh) | Read in About 4 minutes
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Spontaneous Potter
Published 24 Jul 2019

Sam Irving: Faculty

As the newly appointed Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher for the Edinburgh School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (a position I expect to hold for a long time), I've highlighted some of the locations linked with the novels—sorry, biographies—of the great wizard Harry Potter. I have also asked for further recommendations from our performers of each house. Even Slytherin. Diversity quotas and all that.

Renowned ghostwriter J.K. Rowling helped Harry Potter write his memoirs from right here in Edinburgh. The Elephant House, where the 2nd, 3rd and 4th books were written overlooks Greyfriar's Kirkyard. The graveyard here adjoins George Heriot's school, said to be the inspiration for Hogwarts (which is nonsense of course, as we have established it is a REAL PLACE). There is also a Tom Riddle (or Riddell) buried in the Kirkyard, so see if you can spot his grave! Disclaimer: This is NOT the grave of the real Voldemort, so please don't spit or wee on it.

Nearby is Spoon cafe, which fewer people know is where much of the first book was written – pop in and you might even be struck by literary inspiration!


Paul Connolly: Gryffindor

The National Museum of Scotland is an absolute highlight for me, as it's amazing to see all that the muggles have managed to achieve throughout history without the use of magic! It even covers to the scientific advances of the modern day, some of which I'm pretty sure is magic. A trip up one of Edinburgh's hills will allow you to get a breathtaking view of the whole city and even out to sea. Calton Hill at the end of Prince's Street will also let you see the National Monument of Scotland, also known as “Edinburgh's Disgrace” – a far cry from Edinburgh's Pride, which is of course Harry Potter.


Mara Joy: Hufflepuff

The Camera Obscura near Edinburgh Castle has a fascinating exhibit of Muggle “magic” – all sleight of hand and smoke and mirrors of course. LOTS of mirrors. As an accomplished witch, I of course know how all of the tricks are done – I just can't share them because even I have to abide by the magician's code. It definitely isn't because I can't figure it out. No way. For any “budding” herbologists out there, a trip to the Botanic Gardens is a must – no bubotubers or venomous tentacula, but a lovely day out for a picnic when the weather is nice (which even us magical folk can't guarantee!)


Jenny Laahs: Ravenclaw

For the fellow nerdy—sorry, academic—Ravenclaws out there, the National Library of Scotland has even more books than the Hogwarts library! None of the books are cursed though, at least as far as I can tell. Our Dynamic Earth science centre also has a time machine to take you back to the dinosaurs – no time-turners required! If you have a sweet tooth, take a trip to the Fudge Kitchen on the Royal Mile (no relation to Cornelius Fudge, thankfully!). It doesn't quite have as many flavours as Bertie Botts Beans, but the selection is still pretty good!


Will Naameh: Slytherin

Go and see how the greatest muggle potion ever invented was made at the Scotch Whisky Experience! Fun for all ages (but only Irn Bru for under 18s). Edinburgh Zoo also has a reptile house if you want to practice your Parseltongue. I've been using wizard Duolingo and I think I'm getting better. Sss sss hiss hiss snakey snake.

The whole family can come and see Spontaneous Potter Kidz at the Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre, for one day only on 10th August at 11:15am. And if mums and dads are able to magic away their kids for an evening, Spontaneous Potter is on every night from July 31st–August 25th at 9:30pm, but this show is 16+. Voldemort isn't the only forbidden word we'll be saying!

Spontaneous Potter Kidz, Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre, 10 Aug, 11:15pm–12:15pm, £10