Christmas is returning for only the second time at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
From Saturday, November 17, 2018 through Sunday, January 6, 2019 – that’s about a week longer than last year’s celebrations – guests will be able to experience new, exclusive, and festive elements in Hogsmeade Village, ranging from Christmas carols to yuletide foods, with at least one new surprise nestled in there. It’s safe to say that Universal is going to have its biggest holiday season yet.
Like with the rest of Universal Studios Hollywood’s holiday lineup, Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is included with your general admission.
Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – overview and explanation
Upon setting foot in the Wizarding World, guests will be immersed in a winter wonderland in a couple of key – and, of course, magical – ways.
Up first is all the splendid decor that covers nearly every nook and cranny of Hogsmeade. Each individual store has its own specialized decorations, whether they be custom garland or wreaths, transforming the land into a theming smorgasbord (seriously, if you don’t look closely, you’re going to miss out on half of the little touches that help make the Wizarding World the Wizarding World).
Once you’ve been well and truly put in a festive mood, you can stop by the Frog Choir, which has a special holiday show in store for you that blends some old-time favorites with a few brand-new wizarding carols: “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “The Most Magical Yule Ball of All,” “I Cast a Spell on Father Christmas,” and, of course, “Christmas at Hogwarts.”
Afterwards, you can go Christmas shopping at the various wizarding stores – keep an eye out for ornaments, tree toppers, and stockings – and then wash down all the wintry spectacle with The Three Broomstick‘s holiday menu, which comes replete with the Holiday Dinner feast and that most magical of all concoctions, hot Butterbeer.
Along the way, “glistening” snow will now fall across Hogsmeade Village periodically throughout the evening, further immersing guests in the magic that is the holidays.
Finally, at the conclusion of your yuletide foray is the returning highlight of the Christmas season: The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle, a projection-mapping show (yes, another one, after the summertime Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle) that wraps the iconic building in the sights and sounds of winter. Expect to see caroling ghosts, students riding their broomsticks and making snowmen, and giant, majestic Christmas trees play out in and around Hogwarts. It’s the perfect finale to your evening.
The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle – our best tips
Given just how, well, magical the new projection-mapping show is, it’s easily the most popular part of Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (not surprising, given how well-attended Nighttime Lights was over the summer). In order to ensure you have the best vantage point for The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts, we’ve compiled a few handy-dandy tips. Please stick to these in order to maximize your enjoyment of the show – not to mention maximizing your sanity.
- Employees will be stationed outside of the Wizarding World and inside to control the flow of traffic coming into the land when needed. When that happens, be patient – you’ll only be waiting about 10 minutes before being let in to see The Magic of Christmas.
- If you are interested in catching the first posted showtime, you should arrive at the viewing area 35 minutes early. (Or, alternatively, you can shoot for the unannounced performance, which usually happens 30 minutes beforehand – but you’ll still need to get there early.) The first posted showing is typically at 6:00 pm, and usually runs every 30 minutes until park close.
- The first performance of the evening will almost certainly be at capacity; for this reason, we strongly recommend catching the last three showings of the night (when Universal says Magic of Christmas is best, anyway). This way, it’ll be far easier to get a better view of the action.
- If you are aiming for one of the final two showtimes, you should be able to arrive only five minutes before they’re scheduled to kick off and still get a great seat. (This sure beats the two or three hours that many guests will spend camping out at the viewing area before the first performance of the evening!)
- The best viewing spot is by the Frog Choir performance stage, closest to the Hogwarts/Hogsmeade directional sign pole, and it’s first come, first serve. That’s right – there are no front-of-line or VIP viewing areas, sadly (or not so sadly, as your individual taste may be).
- Once Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts finishes its roughly-eight-minute performance, head out of the Wizarding World by using the back exit, the one located next to Ollivander’s and the Butterbeer cart – most guests will exit the same way they entered, which creates a major traffic jam. Give yourself an extra 15 to 25 minutes after the show to make your way towards the front of the park, as crowd flow will be extremely heavy after the first three performances.
- Not interested in the projection-mapping show? You should definitely take advantage of the occasion and use the lower-than-normal crowds at all the rest of Hogsmeade to hop (more) quickly on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. (Please note that Flight of the Hippogriff doesn’t operate during The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle showings, so you’ll need to add an extra seven minutes onto the posted wait time.)