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Okay muggles, did you know that there is a chance to walk through the Forbidden Forest in real life this year?!
That’s right and it’s called the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience that is happening in Cheshire, England.
This completely new experience allows you to immerse yourself into the Hogwarts Forbidden Forest where you’ll encounter your favourite characters, and some magical creatures and get involved in all sorts of spell-binding experiences on the way.
Here is my complete Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience review and all the magical reasons to visit!
What is the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience?
The Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience is an official Wizarding World event held at Arley Hall and Gardens in Cheshire.
It’s one of the newest immersive magical experiences that Potterheads will absolutely love to attend this year!
It’s a chance for muggles, witches, and wizards of all houses to walk through the Forbidden Forest of Hogwarts at night time.
On your journey through the beautifully lit forest, you’ll get to meet some of your favourite magical creatures and characters from the Harry Potter series.
There’s also a chance to do some spell-casting, drink Butterbeer, and visit a magical Hogsmeade-inspired village!
Where is the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience location?
The Forbidden Forest Experience is exclusive to Arley Hall & Gardens for this year and this magical event is held in Cheshire in the North of England.
Although there is only one Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience location this time around, fingers crossed they will open up more venues across the country next year!
It was such a magical experience and it would be fantastic if they opened it up for more people to attend.
The drive to Cheshire is around a 4-5 hour trip from London and the south so it’s best to prepare your broomstick for the long journey ahead.
Personally, I would recommend spending the night somewhere around the Arley area to attend if you’re driving from afar as it’s too long a journey for just one day.
Did you know? The Forbidden Forest Experience is also now in Groenenberg in Belgium. Also, in Leesburg (VA) and Westchester (NY) in the USA!
Magical reasons to visit the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience
There are probably a million and one reasons why you should attend the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience if you’re a Potterhead.
I mean, it’s not every day that you get to experience the Forbidden Forest of Hogwarts in the Muggle world, is it?!
But, if you’re on the fence when considering buying a ticket, I hope some of these reasons will help inspire you to take the plunge.
Here are all the magical reasons to visit and my complete Forbidden Forest Experience review;
1. The Forbidden Forest is beautifully lit with lots of soundscapes!
Firstly, I was so impressed with how this forest was lit up! I was a little worried about it being too dark but honestly, everything was lit up just right.
Every part of the trail was a rainbow of colour, there were wonderful scenes and effects that made everything feel magical.
It was like you’ve stepped through a portal from the Muggle world into a universe of magic where anything is possible. It was incredibly immersive.
You’ll hear the Harry Potter soundtrack and voice snippets from lots of your favourite characters while you’re in the Forbidden Forest. Plus, strange grunts and wheezes of the magical creatures from Hogwarts that live here.
2. You will meet some of your favourite Harry Potter characters
As well as walking through a colourful forest, you can also expect to find some of your favourite magical creatures and characters in the Forbidden Forest too!
You’ll meet your friendly groundskeeper Hagrid along with his trusty dog Fang. You’ll also spot Hedwig, Grawp (who stinks FYI), and even walk into Aragog’s lair with lots of his children overhead.
Mind out for the Pygmy Puffs, Pixies, Owls, and dogs that may be spotted around these parts.
Although the Golden Trio won’t be there, you may spot their Ford Anglia that has landed in the Forbidden Forest – probably thanks to the Whomping Willow.
Although not as popular with many, I loved seeing some of the Fantastic Beast’s characters included here like the Nifflers in their burrow. Make sure to keep hold of all your shiny jewellery.
If you keep a close eye, you can even spot Pickett along with his family of Bowtruckle’s too, eek!
3. You can bow to Buckbeak!
As well as meeting some of your favourite Harry Potter characters, what’s even cooler is that you can bow to Buckbeak too.
So, if you have ever wanted to attend Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class, now is your chance.
Of course, Buckbeak will need no introduction to Potterheads. But, if you’re not aware, you must gain the respect of a hippogriff by bowing to them first and waiting for them to bow back.
So, all you have to do is step up to the plate and bow down to this magical hippogriff and see if you can get him on your side.
Luckily, I was able to do it the first time around and didn’t ruffle his feathers too much. Mischief Managed!
4. You can cast your own Patronus!
For me, one of the best moments at this event was being able to cast my own Patronus in the Forbidden Forest! It was like all my Wizarding World dreams coming true in one night and it was SO much fun.
So, if you have ever wanted to join Dumbledore’s Army in the Room of Requirements then you best get prepared for this part.
You just take your wand, scream “EXPECTO PATRONUM” and your Patronus will appear before your very eyes. It really is like magic!
Don’t worry fellow wizards and witches, if you’ve forgotten your wand, Snape won’t be there to reprimand you.
The Forbidden Forest Experience has wands available that you can borrow from them, so you don’t need to fear missing out.
5. It ends with a tear-jerking finale
Okay, so I won’t give any spoilers here as I don’t want to ruin it for you but what I will say is that your Forbidden Forest experience will truly end with a bang!
Before you leave the Forbidden Forest, you’ll stand on a bridge over a lake to enjoy a spectacular finale. Let’s just say it’s a narrow escape from some Death Eaters…
I honestly teared up at the end as I thought it was such a great ending to such a beautiful night.
6. There’s a Hogsmeade-style village at the end!
So, once you left the Forbidden Forest, you’ll be happy to know that the magic isn’t completely over just yet.
You’ll enter a magical village that is inspired by Hogsmeade and there will be lots of huts, food vans, and heated seating areas for you to enjoy your spell-binding treats.
There is plenty to choose from while you’re here. There are hot food huts selling bangers and mash, huge Yorkshire puddings, fish and chips and burgers etc.
Then, you have hot drink stands serving up hot chocolates, coffees, teas, and pumpkin doughnuts and cakes for a sugary boost.
If you were looking for some Honeyduke’s inspired treats, they have sweet stands, roasted marshmallows, and Butterbeer.
Plus, the adults can enjoy some Harry Potter-inspired cocktails, mulled wine, beer, and all sorts of alcoholic drinks as well.
I absolutely loved being in this village as they had some of the movie soundtrack playing and it really felt like you were in Hogsmeade for a little while.
Oh, and did I mention that there’s even a Thestral carriage set up to take some photos with?
The Thestrals are my all-time favourite characters in the Harry Potter series so I was in my element here. Just out here living my best life as you can see haha!
What is the Forbidden Forest experience food like?
Okay, so the Forbidden Forest experience food was actually really cool and they had lots of magically themed snacks to munch on!
There were pumpkin pasties, Gringotts Galleons, Pumpkin Doughnuts, Chocolate Frog cakes, blondies, brownies, muffins, marshmallows, and all sorts.
Not to mention some spell-binding drinks to purchase like Butterbeer, mulled wine, bubble cocktails, and beer.
The Forbidden Forest experience food prices are on par with what you’d typically expect from a Wizarding World experience.
It’s very similar to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London save the bottled Butterbeer which, in my opinion, was majorly overpriced at £10 a bottle with a tankard.
The bottled Butterbeer isn’t anything like the fresh fizzy Butterbeer you get with the creamy froth on top at the studio tour so that was a surprise.
Even in the Photographic Exhibition the Bottled Butterbeer is around £6.95 with a souvenir tankard. But, hey ho, it’s a one-off.
Typical prices for the Forbidden Forest experience food:
- Bottled Butterbeer with Tankard – £10
- Pumpkin Doughnuts – £4.50 each
- Hot Chocolate – £4.50
- Mulled Wine – £5
- Magical cocktails – £8-10
- Pumpkin pastie – £7
- Hot food dishes like the giant Yorkshire pudding – £7 – £10 a dish
So, I would definitely make sure to budget some money for food, drinks, and magical snacks at this event. It’s not a budget activity especially if you’re a larger family!
7. You can buy some exclusive Forbidden Forest experience souvenirs
It wouldn’t be a Harry Potter event without exiting through the gift shop at the end right?! Well, the Forbidden Forest experience is no different and there are lots of officially licensed souvenirs to purchase.
You can buy clothes and robes for every Hogwarts House. There are jumpers, hoodies, t-shirts, and Quidditch gear.
There are Harry Potter badges, pins, magnets, pens, plushies and all sorts of magical goodies to take home.
You can also find some Fantastic Beasts merchandise on sale like Newt’s magical creatures. My personal favourites are the baby Nifflers!
There is also some exclusive Harry Potter Forbidden Forest experience merchandise for those collectors out there. You can buy tote bags, t-shirts, hoodies, pins, magnets, beanies, and pens too.
It is a little more expensive than your average Harry Potter shop but I guess it’s similar to festival prices.
Is the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience worth it?
100% YES! It’s probably pretty obvious by now that I was absolutely obsessed with everything about this event but I would definitely say that it’s worth the money.
I couldn’t stop thinking about this experience for weeks after I left and mentally I think I’m still there, hahaha! It was just THAT good.
What I loved about it the most was the fact that this Forbidden Forest walk was entirely immersive and it really feels like you’ve stepped into the Wizarding World for the night.
It was beautifully lit, you could hear, meet and interact with some of your favourite Harry Potter characters and there was something spell-binding to enjoy around every corner.
If you’re a Potterhead, or even if you’re not, I would highly recommend booking a ticket as it’s one of the most magical events I have attended this year!
How do you book the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience?
The only way that you can get tickets for the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience is by booking through an events company called Fever.
They have a website and an app where you can book the tickets. Once you’ve downloaded the app, use their search bar to type in the Forbidden Forest Experience and then check for available dates to book.
Once you’ve booked and paid through the app, your ticket will remain as a digital copy on their app/website.
So, all you need to do when you arrive is show the staff your ticket on your phone and they will scan it to allow you entry.
Important: There is no other company selling tickets for this event, so don’t try to book through another website as this is potentially a scam.
How much is the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience?
The one downside to the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience is that it is not the cheapest event.
But, as it is affiliated with the Wizarding World, it’s expected that this forest walk would come at some cost.
The Forbidden Forest Experience ticket price completely depends on what time you visit and what month.
On their app, they say that tickets start from £19 per person (I guess for children) but I couldn’t find one ticket that was less than £31 for an adult.
If you book later in the night, say at 9.30 pm, you can find tickets for around £24. But, that does mean you’ll have less time in the forest! The earlier in the night, the more expensive the tickets will be.
Tickets are generally £31-£49 for an adult and £69 for a VIP. The VIP ticket comes with a Forbidden Forest beanie hat, luxury hot chocolate, and a brownie/muffin.
Personally, I would save your extra money on the VIP tickets. It just doesn’t seem worth it to justify the extra cost, especially if you’re visiting as a family.
When is the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience on until?
The Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience is now back! Tickets for the event run from October until the end of December/early January.
If you think about it, this would be a perfect way to bring in the new year and beat some of the doom and gloom over the winter months.
Always check the Fever app/website as they may add new dates later on in the year. It’s been such a popular event and they want as many people to experience it as possible.
How to get to the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience
The Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience is located in Arley Hall and Gardens that is in Cheshire in England.
The address is Arley, Northwich CW9 6NA. Click here for a Google Pin.
However, they will have an alternate route to follow on your arrival at the Forbidden Forest Experience car parking area.
So, depending on where you’re heading will depend on the route you need to take. Thankfully, Arley is well signposted on the M6 and M56
You’ll need to take Junction 9/10 on the M56 and then junction 19/20 on the M6 and follow the brown tourist signs towards the general area.
Next, you’ll find yellow diversion signs that will point you in the direction of the Forbidden Forest Experience car park.
Note: The Forbidden Forest Experience is around a 4-5 hour drive from the south of England / London, so make sure to plan your journey around this!
My top tips for the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience
- Bring warm clothes. As this event takes place in winter, you’ll need to wrap up warm. I’d recommend your Hogwarts scarf and layers.
- Bring a decent pair of shoes as some of the ground may be muddy on your visit. At first, the car park was sludgy and the lantern walkway at the beginning but then afterward the paths dried out.
- The pathways are all flat for this event, but make sure you check the accessibility section with Fever before you arrive to ensure that pushchairs and wheelchairs can go.
- Bring lots of cash with you for food and drinks. Like most Wizarding World attractions food and drink are a little pricey. For example, Butterbeer bottles are £10 each but they do come with a souvenir tankard.
- If you have bought VIP tickets for the event (with the beanie hat and hot cocoa) you’ll need to check-in at the guest experience desk to claim your voucher.
- You can spend as much time here as you like. There’s no rush at all. So, pace yourself while walking around the Forbidden Forest. I’d allow at least 3-4 hours here as there is so much to see and do as well as the Hogsmeade style village set up at the end!
Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience FAQs
- Is the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience scary? Not really. It’s a very family-friendly experience. The only part that may frighten those with arachnophobia is Aragog’s lair but it’s cordoned off. So, you have the choice of whether to walk in or walk past it!
- Will it be cancelled in bad weather? No. The Forbidden Forest Experience will go ahead in whatever the weather. So, make sure to dress appropriately. It’s mainly undercover though so it shouldn’t be too bad in the rain.
- Do you have to go in groups? No, at first you’ll be in a group, to begin with. But, once you’re in the forest you can just take your time. It’s huge walkways so there is lots of room.
- Is there food and drinks at the event? Yes, they have hot and cold drinks, snacks, and dinner options. There are even adult cocktails and mulled wine. But, make sure to budget enough money.
- Is it really muddy? When I first arrived, the car park was pure sludge. I was worried it would be like that the whole way around! But, no, it’s really well-maintained pathways. Theres’ a slightly muddy bit right at the start under the lantern archway but the forest trail is relatively dry and flat. Saying that I would wear appropriate shoes for a winter’s evening. Think boots or wellies!
- Are there toilets? Yep, there are toilets at the start and end of the event and halfway in between.
- How long does it take to walk around? It can take as little as an hour but I would personally recommend spending around 2 – 4 hours here. There’s so much to see and do and you’ve spent good money to come. So, you don’t want to rush around it.