The Wizarding World of York

If you thought Harry Potter was popular in America, you clearly have not been across the pond! Aside from the obvious London landmarks such as Kings Cross Station and the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, Yorkshire has quite a magical experience for even the most casual Potterhead. 

In the York City Centre exists a street called The Shambles, named for its historic function as the streets where butchers prepared and presented their wares. Most cities in the UK likely harbor their own “Shambles,” but York’s inspired the iconic wizard shopping place, Diagon Alley. Along the narrow and cobblestoned street, caddywhompus and overhanging buildings hint and nod towards the loved magical universe. 

Signs for common wizarding supplied. Photo by Kat Mccullum.

The bottom of the street houses a cluster of Harry Potter themed shops all battling House Cup style for title of shop supreme. Any Potterhead will crack a smile at the various names of the shops including The Boy Wizard, World of Wizardry and, the largest of the three, The Shop That Must Not Be Named. This all-encompassing store stocks goodies for wizards and witches of all ages including an extensive wand collection. The shop littered with universe references such as flying owls with letters, multiple top broomstick models, and Hogwarts promoting trunks has been known to even harbor a queue to get inside.   

A decor owl with an attached letter. Photo by Kat Mccullum.

Take a stroll towards the top of the street to find, tucked away in the shadows, a candy and drink shop housing walls scattered with impeccable details pulled from the text and screen including bubbling cauldrons and goodies galore. Despite being such a small hideaway, this store sells everything one could hope for from the treat trolley including chocolate frogs, jellybeans, and various shimmering, potion themed drinks.

In addition to the themed shops are authentic UK businesses that still encapsulate that Diagon Alley vibe. Small shops craft both homemade fudge and pies along with an assortment of other delectable pastries, settled next door to craftsmen with enchanting crystal figurines and jewelry. Once you have exhausted yourself from the shopping and excitement, pop into The Flax and Twine, an easy to miss storefront of an antique store. On the second floor you can find a quaint cafe, a safe space above the crowded street below. Aside from classic tea and a vibrant menu, you can find an iconic Wizarding World beverage: butterbeer! This non-alcoholic rendition of the sweet drink is a must have treat for any Potter loving individual.

Butter Beer at the Flax and Twine. Photo by Kat Mccullum.

The magic doesn’t stop at the end of the street, even if the theming might. Simply wandering around the historic city can make one feel as if they have entered a world just as magical as the wizarding one. Taking a walk around the original city walls gives one a view of the city not unlike a perspective from a broomstick, and strolling through the flora filled gardens gives an experience of herbology classes minus the fatal screams of adult Mandrakes. No matter your love for the wizarding world, magic is found around every corner here in York!