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Sweatpants & Sanity | Fantasy Break: Fandom Tours

By Emily Parker

Some wildly popular films and television serials are filmed in incredible real-life locales. As a result, fans can sometimes live out their dream of, say, visiting a hobbit-hole, or having a cuppa with the Crawleys. This week, we’re visiting five film and television-inspired tours. Enjoy, and vote for your favorite in our poll!

Downtown Abbey Tour, London, England

Start your Downton Abbey day by leaving London by coach, then commencing 1.5 hours later with a walking tour of Oxford. Afterwards, continue to the Cotswolds’ village of Bampton, which features as Downton village. You’ll also visit the real Downtown Abbey – Highclere Castle – in Hampshire. You’ll visit the Bridge of Sighs along with grand chapels, libraries and halls. Then, independent sightseeing. Local pub, anybody? On the walking tour, you’ll pass the church where Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley wed, the Grantham Arms, and more. Visit, too, the Bampton Archive and a local exhibition about the village’s history. Once you get to the Abbey itself, tour the castle’s state rooms, and see the main hall, library and other rooms used in Downton Abbey as you hear about your favorite characters and the real-life family who owns the estate. Perk of the tour? You’ll receive a signed copy of Lady Carnarvon’s autobiography. Learn more here.

Hobbiton Tour, Auckland, New Zealand

Okay, so this one is not ALL in Auckland, because it encompasses five whole days which will take you all over the North Island of New Zealand! You’ll start from Auckland by coach, with a Bay of Islands cruise to see the Hole in the Rock. Your itinerary includes a drive along Ninety Mile Beach at Cape Reinga, an overnight stay near the bubbling hot springs of Rotorua; a visit to Waitomo Caves for a boat ride through Glowworm Grotto; and a Hobbiton Movie Set tour to see filming locations for ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ Cap it off with a traditional hangi dinner at an authentic Maori village in Rotorua. Learn more here.

Outlander Tour, Edinburgh, Scotland

There are several Outlander-themed tours, but this one run by Clans & Castles sounds great! Their suggested schedule is a week-long Highlands extravaganza, featuring two nights at an Edinburgh hotel, three nights at an Inverness B&B, three nights at an inn on the Isle of Skye, and one in a B&B near “Castle Leoch.” During your week, you’ll see Culloden Moor, Eilean Donan Castle, the inspiration for Lallybroch, Quirang and Dunvegan Castles, and much more. Learn more here.

Game of Thrones Tours, Belfast, Ireland

There are four possible tours to choose from in this package – Dublin Winterfell, Belfast Winterfell, Iron Island & Stormlands, and the Legendary Stormlands Adventure. For most of these, you’ll want to put on your hiking boots and a warm sweater! They also warn that – as you already know if you are already a fan – that Game of Thrones contains adult content, and that “we have swords and other props on the coach.” Fun! Learn more here.

Harry Potter Tour, London, England

Okay, so this one is in a movie studio rather than on location, but who could leave out Harry Potter? Take a train directly from central London to the studio, where you’ll be greeted and taken on a journey featuring the original sets, props and costumes featured in all eight Harry Potter movies. From the website: “Take a look inside Dumbledore’s office, and walk along cobbled Diagon Alley, which features the shop fronts of Ollivanders, Flourish and Blotts, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Gringotts Bank, and Eeylops Owl Emporium. Visit the original Hogwarts Express locomotive and a recreation of Platform 9 ¾. Climb aboard the train carriage, and pose with a luggage trolley as it disappears through the platform wall. Other sets you can see include the Gryffindor common room, the boys’ dormitory, Hagrid’s Hut, the Potions classroom, and Professor Umbridge’s office at the Ministry of Magic.” Sign this Muggle up! Learn more here.

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Emily Parker is a musician, writer, and avid reader who started Bucket List Book Reviews, the ‘1,001 Books to Read Before You Die’ project. For Sweatpants & Coffee, Emily hopes to inspire the reading of the classics by a whole new audience by only reviewing the really good stuff.

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