Every visit to the Warner Brother Studio Tour is magical. From the moment you get on the bus at Watford Junction and hear the iconic theme tune play over the speakers, you are instantly transported to that wonderful world we have all spent many hours/days/years within. However as we pulled up the studios, amongst a crowd of recognisable faces of YouTube fame, and entered the main foyer area, we knew this night would be something special.
An enormous, tinsel bedecked Christmas tree welcomed us on our arrival, setting the mood for their special festive feature, Hogwarts in the Snow. As we sipped mulled wine and nibbled on warm mince pies, we took a moment to take in these extra decorations as well as appreciate the latest Gift Shop window displays, featuring mannequins smothered in cosy hats and scarfs in range of House colours and a light sprinkling of “snow” on the ground.
Embarking on the tour, the activities and layout are as usual but a festive touch has been added that will sway even the grumpiest of Scrooges. The Great Hall has been adorned with the decorations and props used in The Philosopher’s Stone with eight Christmas trees lining the walls and heaps of food filling the length of both tables. A vast wreath encircles the Hogwarts crest engraved on the chimney breast and thick garlands of holly and mistletoe decorate all other available surfaces. A feature I personally adored was that of the clever light trick on the back windows, giving the illusion of snow falling behind the glass.
After being assured this wouldn’t be the last of the snow, we headed into the main room were a number of the sets have been suitably decorated including the Gryffindor Common Room, with its rather elaborate paper chain chandelier feature, and a more modest explosion of tinsel in the Boy’s Dormitory. For new visitors to the tour, many of the other permanent features have Yuletide significance from decorations from the Yule Ball to the dress worn by Luna Lovegood at Slughorn’s Christmas party, not to mention the many Weasley jumpers on display. One nifty addition to this area is an explanation of the snow making process; ranging from the use of shredded plastic to mixing dendritic salt with white glitter, the sorcery of film snow knows no bounds!
This still wasn’t the last of the snow however, as we were surprised with a flurry of the cold white stuff upon entering The Backlot. Being this reviewer’s first venture to the tour after dark, it was quite something to see the Knight Bus glowing warmly, lit by wall lamps, and the Hogwarts Bridge up-lit in an eerie green, whilst snow fell around you. If you can make the tour after sunset, and bear the cold, it comes highly recommended!
As we hurried back into the warmth and finished off the tour, we were once again presented with the piece de resistance; the unforgettable Hogwarts Castle model. Dusted in ‘snow’, the breath-taking feature is even more spellbinding. Adding to magic are a few little extras scattered around including a tiny snowman and some minuscule footprints.
All too soon it was time to leave, although not without a final scoot around the gift shop. For anyone yet to visit the Studio Tour, Hogwarts at Christmas couldn’t provide a better opportunity to see this wonderful collation of props and costumes in all its glory. As for regular attendees, surely SNOW is a good enough reason to return?
As always, we’d like to thank everyone at the WB Studio Tour for inviting us to the Hogwarts in the Snow preview and for such a splendid evening.
Report by Claire Furner
Event attended by Claire Furner and Rosie Morris.