Harry Potter And The Magic of Glasgow
There was elation, visible on social media when it was announced that there was to be a Harry Potter festival in Bearsden this summer. And when unfortunately that festival had to be cancelled, that elation ebbed; Glaswegian, if not Scottish, Potheads (not what you think) lost an opportunity to not only keep the series alive but, like Hogwarts letters, to have the experience right on their doorsteps. However, beyond those doorsteps, even without the festival, the spirit of the Wizarding World can be found everywhere. True, Edinburgh may hold the monopoly on Potter-dom as its literary birthplace, yet Glasgow is no stranger to magic.
For the outstanding aesthetic of Potter, especially the fantastical monument that is Hogwarts, the young witch or wizard need go no further than the University of Glasgow. With its green quads, cloisters, and standard castle vibe, you would half expect to see Dumbledore stroll passed, disappearing into a classroom. And while no witches or wizards have attended the university (as far as we know), it undulates with magic and charm, even in the bitter Glasgow winters. If anything, the place looks more Hogwarts-like when blanketed in snow. With the university offering guided tours most days at 2 pm, as well as a list of places on their website, it is easy to explore such a beautiful magical place, just like Harry.
Of course, before you actually get to Hogwarts, it’s important to have all the correct supplies, and without a bewitched brick wall to get you to Diagon Alley (at least not that I’ve found), you’ll have to find somewhere else. Although you might not find a broomstick nor Dragon’s Blood, Opal Moon on Queen Margaret Drive offers esoteric supplies that even Hermione would envy. A selection of oils and incenses, crystals and even cauldrons, the stock at Opal Moon may even rival the well-established purveyors on Diagon Alley. The selection of Tarot and Angel cards would definitely earn you house points from Professor Trelawney. It may not have all your required tools for your wizarding education, Opal Moon offers a world of magic that only the chosen may find.
Once you’ve wondered and gawped (there’s a Potter joke in there somewhere) at the castle-like grandeur of Glasgow Uni *cough* Hogwarts *cough*, it’s time for class. Unfortunately, you’ll find no such class at the uni itself; instead, you’ll have to make a quick trip to the Botanical Gardens. There is no need to fear, there is no Devil’s Snare, but the carnivorous plants section in the Kibble Palace is pretty close. Watching the tiny mouths of the Venus Flytraps open ready for unwary prey, the gardens offer an insight into the mysticism of herbology, perhaps magically masquerading as a human tourist attraction. Outside in the grounds, hopeful and present students can explore the plants, searching for the right one for the spell. In the Herb Garden, Scottish Garden, and Culinary Garden, you can find your typical chives and lavender, as well as classic potion ingredients such as wormwood, mugwort, and St. John’s Wort. It would seem however that their Mandrake crop is non-existent.
For the dedicated fan, the spirit and magic of Harry Potter can be found in the most mundane of places, and that which Glasgow offers makes spotting it that much easier. From supplies and classes to the castle of Hogwarts itself, Glasgow offers a mirage of the story that Rowling created and fans continue to live. So even if your letter is still missing, there is still hope, celebrating Potter in the guise of tourism. Well, you wouldn’t want to draw attention to Muggles, would you?
***Words: James Reynolds***