I was quite pleased to channel my inner Hermione Granger earlier this week when I visited the York Shambles, a historical street in York’s city center renowned for its wood-framed structures and overhanging arches. But- known by any true Potterhead- the York Shambles is most famous for inspiring the iconic cobblestoned wizarding alley, Diagon Alley, from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. With cauldrons, spell books and broomsticks galore, the York Shambles is the ideal vacation for any Harry Potter fan in the 20th century.
So what does Diagon Alley really look like? Home to three independent Harry Potter gift shops, the York Shambles is filled with window displays carrying collector’s items, chocolate wands (and real wands for any witches or warlocks out there), merchandise and more. The York Shambles is also home to The Potions Cauldron at 9 ¾, a visitor’s attraction where you can create and mix your own potions while being served “potion” cocktails/ mocktails at the same time! From Unicorn essence, to Serpents venom, to Tears of a Wizard and more, The Potions Cauldron at 9 ¾ is the most magical store in York. Not to mention, it has the best remedies to cure any sickness (hangovers included)!
If the muggle inside you isn’t already stirring with excitement, the Flax & Twine Cafe, an elaborate tea shop located at 20 and Shambles, rests above one of the alleyway’s vintage antiques shops and serves Harry Potter-themed specials and some super tasty scones! The Flax & Twine Cafe is the perfect hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the streets below, and its British décor and Bay windows make it the perfect location for a photo opp as well!
All the wizard talk aside, the York Shambles has more to offer than just a clever take on one of the greatest series of all times. The Shambles is in the heart of York, just a few hundred feet (or as Europe and the rest of the world would say, just a few hundred meters) from the historical York Minister, the National Trust Treasurer’s House, and the local McDonald’s (bingo!) The York Shambles is surrounded by some of the best fish and chip shops in town, the hippest pubs and bars, and if you have a sweet tooth like me, leads directly to the York Chocolate Story (yum)! The York Shambles not only provides a glimpse into the world of wizardry, but the world of York as well.