Unless you’ve been living under a rock for quite some time, you must have heard of Harry Potter and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. After 7 novels and 8 movies the worldwide phenomenon has attracted countless tourists and fans in London and Oxford, but did you know that Scotland is closely related to this magical world?
Here are some famous sites every Potterhead should visit on their next trip to Scotland!
The Elephant House, Edinburgh
The Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, moved to Edinburgh in 1993 and The Elephant House is one of the cafés she used to go to in order to write her first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone. The coffee house is constantly flooded by fans trying to retrace the steps of their favourite author, and maybe, who knows … get inspired themselves!
Victoria Street, Edinburgh
As Rowling lived in Edinburgh for several years, it’s only natural that she looked around her for inspiration when writing her novels. For example, Victoria Street was her main inspiration for the mysterious and magical Diagon Alley, where the young Harry Potter bought his first year’s school supplies. If you dare venture into this wizarding street, don’t hesitate to stop by Diagon House or The Boy Wizard, two Harry Potter Shops where you will find all the magical supplies you need.
Tom Riddle’s Grave, Greyfriars Kirkyard
Victoria Street is not the only part of Edinburgh that inspired the author. With a 7-novel series, you can imagine the number of characters evolving in Rowling’s work and all the names the author has had to make up for them. Hidden away in Greyfriars Kirkyard, some very interesting tombstones can be found, which most likely helped Rowling in the naming process of some of her characters: Tom Riddle, McGonagall, Moodies, etc. Walk down the graveyard’s alleys for more spooky discoveries!
The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh
This beautiful Victorian luxury hotel was once Rowling’s safe haven. She frequently visited the hotel while she was finishing Harry Potter and theDeathly Hallows. Room 552, now renamed the J.K. Rowling Suite in her honour still holds the desk and chair where the author sat to write.
Rowling’s handprint, the Edinburgh City Chambers
The Edinburgh City Chambers is another stop HP fans will not want to miss when visiting Edinburgh. Rowling’s handprints can be found on a flagstone in the quadrangle in front of the City Chambers. The prints were set in 2008 when Rowling received the Edinburgh Award.
George Heriot’s School: Edinburgh’s very own Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Although nobody except Rowling really knows where Hogwarts really is located, many believe that the castle was inspired by George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh. The gothic architecture of the breath-taking school situated in the city centre will undoubtedly remind fans of Harry’s beloved school. Even the four houses of Hogwarts may have been inspired by the George Heriots School’s four towers!
Glenfinnan Viaduct – All aboard the Hogwarts Express
Hidden in the depth of the Scottish Highlands, this railway is famous for being featured in the Harry Potter movies. Harry Potter enthusiasts will be happy to know that the Hogwarts Express is no longer only reserved for Wizards: Muggles can now journey across Western Scotland on board the famous steam train just as Harry and his friends did!
Finally, Scotland’s countryside is packed with breath-taking landscapes which are heavily featured in the Harry Potter movies.
When learning a language, it’s always best to combine business with pleasure! Watching movies or TV shows is actually a very good method to improve your receptive skills and expand your vocabulary in a new language! The best way to work your way up to an almost-perfect understanding of an English movie is to take it slow. Try watching movies in English with subtitles in your own language at first. Then, when you feel comfortable enough, switch to English subtitles. Finally, the last step would be to watch them without any subtitles! It’s a great exercise and your English will thank you for it!
Here’s a list of a few movies and TV shows set in Scotland, full of magnificent scenery and shots of this beautiful country!
One Day (2010), Lone Scherfig
Based on the novel of the same name by David Nicholls, the story follows the lives and relationship of Emma and Dexter, respectively played by Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. The movie was partly filmed in Edinburgh: it opens and ends in the beautiful Scottish capital and features, amongst others, breath-taking views of Arthur’s Seat, Parliament Square, Calton Hill and Victoria Street.
Braveheart (1995), Mel Gibson
There is no doubt the infamous movie recounting the tale of Willian Wallace, a 13th century Scottish warrior and leader of troops against Edward I of England has brought countless people to the Highlands. The movie offers wonderful shots of the Scottish countryside including the areas near Glen Coe and Loch Leven. Another highly popular location for fans of the movie these day is the Glen Nevis Valley, which is where the crew built the village of Lanark, Wallace’s childhood home.
Ironically enough, there aren’t many other parts of Scotland featured in the movie, as the rest was shot … in Ireland (including the big battle scene).
Outlander (2014), Starz
There is no denying that Outlander has taken over the small screen in the past couple of years. The great acting and carefully though-out plotting are certainly part of the reason why, but the cinematography is undoubtedly a big part of it as well. Set in 18th century Scotland, the locations they used in the series are simply too numerous to be listed exhaustively here. Beautiful shots of landscapes, castles, lochs and villages will make you fall in love with Scotland instantly. To name but a few, Doune Castle was used for Castle Leoch, Black Castle stands in for Fort William, they set up the standing stones circle in Rannoch Moor and Midhope Castle was used for Jamie’s family home, Lallybroch or Broch Tuarach.
Skyfall (2012), Sam Mendes
The 2012 action movie and 23rd James Bond film contains some spectacular shots of the Scottish Highlands. In the movie, the Bond family estate is located in the Highlands and although the actual house they used was a mock up, they still filmed the Scottish landscape around Glen Etive and used it as the way leading up to that house.
Trainspotting (1996), Danny Boyle
Just like the book, the movie is set in Edinburgh. Nevertheless, almost all of it was filmed in Glasgow. However, you can still spot a few shots of the Scottish capital, especially in the opening chase scene of the movie. You can see Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle, Hanover Street and Calton Road under Regent Bridge.
Honorary mention: Brave (2012), B. Chapman and M. Andrews
Although not a live-action movie, I could not let this one slip. The 2012 Disney Pixar adventure film is 100% set in the medieval Scottish Highlands, and 100% inspired by Scottish culture. From the Highland Games to tartan and bagpipes, this one is a must see for a real Scottish feel. Merida’s family castle, Dunbroch, was heavily inspired by Dunnotar Castle in Aberdeenshire, south of Stonehaven. The landscapes seen in the movie when Merida travels through the countryside on her horse Angus were also inspired by real locations such as Glen Affric. Finally, some might recognise the Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis as the inspiration for the movie’s standing stones circle.
Here at inlingua, we like to balance hard work with times of relaxation and great fun. As they say: “work hard, play hard”. Yesterday, we had the chance to host the 6th annual inlingua Unplugged, a free musical event filled with live acoustic music. We were lucky enough to welcome three incredible singers and musicians who lit up the stage for our wonderful students, staff and friends. There couldn’t a more Scottish event: live music is literally everywhere here, even at our school.
Take a look at the pictures below and get in the mood: music heals all wounds, lift up the heart and makes for great memories:
Thank you all for coming, and a special thanks to our wonderful singers, Tim Wylie, Simon Patchett and Terry Weston!
Summer is the festival season in many countries around the world. But nothing compares to a summer in Edinburgh. Why? Because of the fabulous weather we have here in August? Well, not exactly … Here, August is the month of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more than 70 years now, Scotland’s capital has been the host of the biggest international festival in the world which is now regarded as the greatest outlet for creativity and freedom of artistic expression.
With more than 3,000 acts in just three weeks, the Edinburgh Fringe has something for everyone. Take your pick from cabaret, comedy, dance, circus, music, theatre, street art and many more. You are bound to find something to your taste!
Admittedly, the Fringe can be intimidating for a first-timer. Believe me, even locals sometimes can’t wrap their head around it! The city triples in size and you won’t find a single street that is not bursting with life! So here are a few tips and tricks to make the most of your time at the EdFringe.
This year, the festival will run from 03rd to 27th August.
In addition to the numerous shows happening in the 300-something venues all over the city, the Fringe also has street events in their street performance spaces located in the heart of the city: High Street (on the Royal Mile) and the Mound Precinct.
These vibrant spaces are the perfect opportunity to enjoy street performers, buskers, living statues, arts and craft markets, and much more. It’s also a place where you can “try before you buy”: hundreds of Fringe performers offer free previews of their shows across the Street Events stages. The perfect opportunity to choose which show you’ll be going to!
Schedule and info
As it would be impossible to give you an exhaustive schedule here, the best thing to do is to head to the EdFringe website itself and peruse all the shows listed here: www.edfringe.com
If you’re on the go, don’t forget about the official EdFringe app (available for iPhone and Android) to plan and book the shows you’re interested in. They also have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, regularly updated with news from the festival.
Here is a list of a few recurring shows that happen at the Fringe, which the Inlingua team loves and recommends!
Baby Wants Candy: The Completely Improvised Full Band Musical
One of the biggest sell-outs from previous years, this improv musical comedy show will have you bursting with laughter for a full hour. The show runs every day at 20.00 at the Assembly George Square Studio!
Jason Byrne: You Can Come in, But Don’t Start Anything
This Irish stand-up comedian is a true Fringe legend! He plays almost every day at 21.00 at the Assembly Hall on the Mound Place. If you go to see him, better not be shy because his live shows often involve lots of audience participation!
The Lady Boys of Bangkok – Wonder Women Tour
This cabaret style show mixes humour, entertainment, glitter and glamour to deliver a one-of-a-kind fabulous performance. With comedy, music and high-end fashion costumes, this show is a favourite among Fringe goers! Rest assured, the Lady Boys perform several times per day, every day of the Fringe; you will get a chance to catch their show!
The Japanese Marvellous Drummers
Using traditional Japanese instruments, The Japanese Marvellous Drummers combine music with dance and humour to bring you an extraordinary demonstration of rhythm and talent that will leave you in awe. You will find them playing almost every day at the Assembly George Square Theatre!
Sugar Rush: The Best of the Fringe
For the most indecisive of you, the Best of the Fringe is the way to go. Every day, four different artists will perform their best stuff for you (acts that usually are not featured in their solo shows!), so it’s a good way to try before you buy without spoiling the surprise!
Bear in mind that this selection is just based on personal preferences and that it may not be for everyone!
I hope you enjoy your time in Edinburgh and at the Fringe! I will leave you with this last piece of advice: take a risk!
The entire spirit of the Fringe revolves around discovery and creativity without boundaries. Walk along the streets, stop at the first show you see, don’t plan every second of your stay: take a chance and you might be very surprised by what you will discover!
Learning a new language can be tricky, we all know it. Besides learning grammar rules and studying endless list of vocabulary words by heart, there is no better way to learn than to actually practice. There are many ways to practice a foreign language other than going abroad and talking to locals. If you do not feel ready to talk to other people just yet, you could start by watching movies or reading books in the language you are trying to learn! This will help you improve your receptive skills and put you one step further to mastering the language!
My advice would be to start with a book you have already read in your own language! You will know the story, which will allow you to spend more time on learning new vocabulary and memorizing recurrent grammar structures!
Here are a few suggestions of books featuring Edinburgh or Scotland in general to get you in the Scottish mood!
Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
How can I write an article about Scotland in literature without mentioning Diana Gabaldon’s series?! Dive into the Outlander books and travel through time and space, visit the Highlands, discover the daily life of 18th century Scotsmen and women, and even learn a few words of Gaelic! Gabaldon certainly does a beautiful job of transporting you all across Scotland.
One Day, David Nicholls
The novel retraces the intertwined lives of the two protagonists, Emma and Dexter, every year on the same day, July 15, for 20 years. The story begins with the two young students graduating from the University of Edinburgh and follows them throughout adulthood. Fall in love with this story and the city at the same time!
44 Scotland Street, Alexander McCall Smith
44 Scotland Street is an episodic novel that was first published as a serial in the daily newspaper The Scotsman. Now the series already counts 12 books, of which 44 Scotland Street is the first. The novels tell the story of the tenants of a building located at 44 Scotland Street in New Town, Edinburgh. You will certainly love the humour and the insightful observations about Edinburgh society portrayed through the author’s recurring characters!
Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
Scottish writer Irvine Welsh wrote a series of short stories collected in Trainspotting about residents of the Leith neighbourhood in Edinburgh. The story revolves around heroin users, friends of heroin users and people engaging in activities linked to different addictions just as destructive. It has become a worldwide phenomenon and many tourists now walk the streets of Edinburgh retracing the steps of Welsh’s characters.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark
First published in The New Yorker magazine, the 1961 novel is now featured on the 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. The novel follows a young teacher in her ‘prime’ namely, Miss Brodie and the relationships she forges with her pupils. Set in the Edinburgh of the 1930s, it’s certainly a book you do not want to miss!