There are three significant places for the real fan of the magical world of Harry Potter. It’s The Wizarding World in Orlando (Florida), The Wizarding World in Hollywood (California) and Warner Bros Studio Tour in London. In addition to this, there are several cities and places where the inspiration for this saga came from. For example, London and Porto. But what was new to me, a true believer in wizardry and witchcraft, is that there is one more destination for the fans of the magical world. And it’s moving all around the world! It’s Harry Potter: The Exhibition and at the moment this Harry Potter’s Exhibition is located in Brussels, Belgium.
Now imagine how excited I got when I found out about this! Several days after we moved to Belgium, I randomly scrolled through the places to see in this country. And BAM! Among the top photos on Instagram, which was taken in Belgium, I saw Dobby, The House Elf! Since that day I knew what I want to do on my birthday and, Dear Reader, we did it. We went to the Harry Potter: The Exhibition in Brussels.
According to the organizers, visitors of Harry Potter’s Exhibition can have a personal look to original and authentic items, costumes, decorations, that were used in the movies of Harry Potter. All the items are arranged in a different locations of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, like Hagrid’s Hut or the Great Hall. There are 10 of them and they follow one another in a logical sequence.
I have to say, that I am not a fan of this official description. As I see it, this Exhibition is the thing, that confirms the existence, real existence of the wizarding world. There are collected hundreds of authentic proofs from the stories, that J. K. Rowling told us, and you can find everything is this one amazing exposition!
Let me show you!
Pre-show with a Sorting Hat
In Hogwarts you can’t make any further steps without being sorted to your House. The same rules apply here! Sadly, not by Professor McGonagall, but… By a real talking and thinking Sorting Hat!
Not all the visitors got a lucky chance to be sorted, but, hey, it was my birthday! I was among the luckiest three and I was sorted to GRYFFINDOR! Considering, that this was the moment, which I have been waiting since I was 11-years-old, I probably don’t have to say, how fun the sorting was for me.
But let’s get serious and concentrated, we are about to walk to Harry Potter’s Exhibition.
Gryffindor Common Room
Pre-show is followed by a Gryffindor Common Room area. As it could be expected, the first fing to greet us before entering the common room was the Fat Lady painting. But what made us even more excited than the Sorting Hat, was to see, that this painting is moving, talking and singing! Again, like in Hogwarts!
It would be unfair for me to spoil all the details. Half of the fun is not to know, what you will find there. I will only highlight what is obvious – this common room holds all sorts of things that was owned by the gryffindors. Personally, I found interesting each and every, even the tiniest of them, because each of them plays a significant role in the world, that I believe in.
If Gryffindor Common Room is for exploring the life of students, then the next area is for the life of teachers. Of course, not for all of them – Professor Binns1 was probably too boring even for exhibition. Here is collected the life of many of the most significant Harry’s teachers in Hogwarts. And I don’t need to say which of the magical studies had the most of them…
Considering how much I love to talk about magic I think you can forgive me, Dear Reader, for spoiling a little bit of the Exhibition. I just can’t restrain myself from sharing some of my insights. Firstly, it isn’t surprising that the biggest office belongs to a teacher, who is fairly named a walking-talking large pale toad. Decorations of this teacher’s office had always stood out from the others. However, secondly, it did surprise me to see that there wasn’t a space for the Headmaster or the Headmistress of the School. Despite the Fox, I can’t remember seeing any other Headmaster’s property in the Exhibition. And there was nothing that I saw belonging to Minerva McGonagall.
Despite these two surprises, Hogwarts classrooms in Harry Potter’s Exhibition are super interesting. There aren’t much space for every teacher, but the items that are shown draws quite a nice picture of each of them.
Classrooms are followed by the most venturesome part of Hogwarts – Quidditch field. Here I want to let myself spoil a little detail. Again. There are one or two places in the Exhibition where you can try your personal skills. Don’t need to expect much, but still, it is fun to try some of the beloved magical activities by yourself. Quidditch field is one of those places.
I think we all remember the most significant items of quidditch, like robes, balls or brooms, quite well. However, I found very interesting to see the pieces of the newspapers and advertisements about the 422nd World Quidditch Cup. Those texts and visuals were completely new to me.
Hagrid’s Hut and Forbidden Forest
Since we moved from the school to its territory, quidditch field is followed by Hagrid’s hut. Actually, this is the only area that is really built there. In other words, there is a little hut with a huge armchair standing in the middle of the Exhibition. And the bench outside the hut, where Hagrid used to play his flute – it is also there!
Personally I enjoyed visit at Hagrid’s the most from all the other areas. The thing that you can enter small, but real house and sit in an armchair of that wonderful half-giant and half-human made my excitement to rise even more. I have no idea how was this even possible.
But as in real life, Hagrid’s house is inseparable from its surroundings – the Forbidden Forest. We all remember what creatures were hiding there throughout all those years. I don’t want to frighten you, but a lot of them are hiding here too… Sadly, one of the brightest things in the Forest – the old Ford Anglia – didn’t show up.
Dark place for dark forces
If the Forbidden Forest seemed like a dark and spooky place, the next area is the winner of the frightening places in the Exhibition. Actually, I really made P. scared for a second in that area by whispering in a voice of Lord Voldemort. It weren’t the best acting skills, but the atmosphere, unexpectedness and a low silent voice made him jump a little bit.
As you have probably noticed from the photos, it is really dark in the premises of Exhibition. But area of the dark forces is black as a night. And there are a bit of special sound effects, that makes it even more spookier. In my opinion, it perfectly matches with the things and characters, which are exhibited there.
The area that holds the biggest variety of items is the Great Hall. I think the reason why this area ends the official part of Exhibition is that it was the places where it ALL ended. The Great Hall was the place where Voldemort was seen alive for the last time. And believe me, I know what I write! There really are proofs and items from the legendary Battle of Hogwarts, like, for example, Gryffindor Sword or Harry Potter’s final battle clothing.
However, here are a lot more than a final battle to remember in the Great Hall. Rita Skeeters, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Victor Krum, Dobby and many others – they are all here. For example, I never knew a simple thing – how the dishes of the feasts looked like. Happily, I had a chance to acknowledge them in this part of Exhibition.
Mix of the Diagon Alley and the Hogsmeade
Harry Potter’s Exhibition ends with a place where you, Dear Reader, being all very excited can spend a lot of money. It is a small souvenir shop where you can find a bit of Diagon Alley and a bit of Hogsmeade in one place: from wands to sweets.
I found a lot of interesting things, however I have to say that the prices are really high here. But since it was my birthday and I needed something that would help me to preserve my magical beliefs, I bought super nice Hogwarts pin. It is already on my Gryffindor sweater which, by the way, is also one of the presents, that I received for my birthday. Yes, my inner child is stronger each year as I am getting older.
As I consider myself very well educated fan of the wizarding world, I can assure you, that Harry Potter’s Exhibition is a thing to see. I was very excited to find things that I have imagined for a long time, but never captured how they looked in real life scenes. For example, Skiving Snackbox from the Weasleys’. I didn’t remember how Fever Fudge or Nosebleed Nougat look in the movies, but I had a chance to examine all of it here!
However, there are several things that I want to draw your attention to, Dear Reader. Firstly, descriptions of exhibits are written in two languages – Dutch and French – but not in English. Of course, if you know every piece of this magical world by heart you won’t need any of those. But if you think, that you could have forgotten something, make sure to ask for English Exhibit Guide at the ticket office.
Secondly, don’t get too many expectations about the size of this Exhibition. There are a lot of things to see, but you will walk through all the areas quite fast. For example, we stopped at each of the objects and admired them slowly, but in the end we spent less than hour and a half there.
But maybe it’s not such a bad thing! You don’t need to have whole day for Harry Potter’s Exhibition – you can dedicate it exploring other awesome places in Brussels or in the other city, that this Exhibition will go next.
One thing is clear – Harry Potter: The Exhibition will be the best thing that you will see that day. Or that week. Or even that month.
Harry Potter’s Exhibition in Brussels is open until 6th of November. But it isn’t going far from here – from February 2017 it will be open in Utrecht. So if not to Belgium, then start planning your trip to the Netherlands!
I hope, that you’re believer, Dear Reader, because it is so fun to be one!