Northern Ireland Celebrates Game of Thrones’ Iron Anniversary

It’s the global phenomenon which inspired millions of visitors to come to Northern Ireland and served as a trailblazer for this part of the world to become the backdrop for countless Hollywood blockbusters and television series.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since Game of Thrones® began filming in Northern Ireland. HBO are celebrating the hit fantasy series’ TV debut with a month long celebration referred to as the “Iron Anniversary”.

Ballintoy Lordsport Harbour

Places such as Ballintoy Harbour and the Dark Hedges on the Causeway Coastal Route became part of the fantasy world which transfixed audiences from around the globe. Northern Ireland’s beauty was often as popular as the show’s plotlines.

Today, wherever you travel across Northern Ireland, you’ll see exactly why the landscape was chosen for Game of Thrones® – and how you can get as close as possible to the spirit and the action from the legendary series. Some locations are less than two hours from Dublin.

Downhill Beach Dragonstone

Flip Robinson, Game of Thrones® extra (Hodor) and now tour guide at Giant Tours Ireland, recognises the positive impact the series has had on Northern Ireland: “Ten years on, Northern Ireland has the wonderful legacy of being Game of Thrones®️ territory with our incredible breathtaking scenery. I truly love to immerse visitors into our landscape and tell our stories of ice and fire. My private tours enable you to stand on the exact spots where the iconic cast members worked their magic and I look forward to fans returning soon.”

From epic experiences to exploring key locations, Northern Ireland can fulfil any fan’s fantasies. Discover Northern Ireland has compiled a list of ten key facts to bring your Game of Thrones® tour to life.

Did you know…

  1. There are 26 Game of Thrones® film locations dotted around Northern Ireland. You can take a tour by bus, be led by an insider or DIY it if that’s how you roll.  You might recognise Kingsroad, Pyke Harbour and Dragonstone Cliffs in Co Antrim and Winterfell, Stokeworth and The Haunted Forest in Co Down. Hollow Hill was set in Co Fermanagh, Dragonstone and the Seven Gods of Westeros is in Co Londonderry and you might remember the heroic Rickard Karstark and Robb Stark face off, that was set in Co Armagh.

    Door 10 – The Dark Horse
  2. The Northern Ireland Game of Thrones® Territory Filming Locations Map is available in six languages with detailed information on all 26 filming locations and the 10 Doors of Thrones, as well as official stills from the show.  Bridging the gap between fantasy and reality, the interactive maps allow users to flip between the mythical worlds of Westeros and Essos and the Northern Ireland filming locations.
  3. A Game of Thrones® tour or experience is a great way to revisit the locations of some of your favourite scenes. For those with sturdy sea legs, you can try an ocean perspective of the many locations, like Ballintoy Harbour (Lordsport Harbour) or Murlough Bay and Fair Head (Slaver’s Bay). If you fancy splashing out, an aerial tour across some stunning filming locations may well be the experience of a lifetime. Fly across Portstewart Strand (the Coast of Dorne), Binevenagh (the Dothraki Grasslands) and many more.
  4. Castle Ward Demesne in Co Down doubled as Winterfell. Here, you can take a filming location cycle tour, try out your archery skills or stay over in a very cool glamping pod. Nearby at The Cuan, take a seat, dress up in your finest robes and dine at King Robert Baratheon’s banquet table. Or for something less formal but still regal, try a themed afternoon tea in the Ballygally Castle Hotel, Co Antrim.
  5. There is a ‘Glass of Thrones’ dedicated walking trail throughout Belfast, dotted along the Maritime Mile, from the Lagan Weir to Titanic Studios. These giant stained-glass windows highlight a key House or legacy and depicts the most exciting and talked-about moments from the entire saga. Northern Ireland’s finest artists, artisans and craftspeople bring cultural heritage in this art form remarkably to life.
  6. 10 doors, intricately carved from the iconic Kingsroad trees that were felled in a dramatic real-life storm, hang in a range of destinations across Northern Ireland. Each door tells a story from Season 6. You’ll find them at pub locations The Cuan in Strangford, Fiddler’s Green in Portaferry, Percy French in Newcastle, the aptly named Blakes of the Hollow in Enniskillen, Owens in Limavady, Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy, Mary McBride’s in Cushendun and The Dark Horse in Belfast, as well as two castle estate locations – Dark Hedges Estate and Ballygally Castle in Co Antrim. Don’t forget to get your Journey of Doors Passport stamped at each location – a must-have souvenir for all Thronies.
  7. The Game of Thrones®, series holds the record for most Emmy Awards received by a single TV series – 59, following the awards ceremony held in September 2019.
  8. Belfast International Airport was renamed Westeros Airport in December 2017 to celebrate the Game of Thrones® Season 7 Blu-ray/DVD release.
  9. An 87-metre long, Game of Thrones® medieval-style tapestry was designed and woven in 2017, bringing to life the trials and tribulations of the show’s characters in its most epic and famous scenes from Season 1-7. It attracted over 200,000 visitors whilst on display at the Ulster Museum, Belfast for 18 months.
  10. The first attraction from the Game of Thrones® Legacy project in Northern Ireland, The Game of Thrones® Studio Tour hopes to open its gates for visitors in 2021. It will comprise the breathtaking imagery, captivating sets, original props and costumes, and other behind-the-scenes items from the series, dropping fans into the very heart of the Seven Kingdoms.

Winterfell Tours – Game of Thrones® Archery package

In Northern Ireland, Game of Thrones® experiences are everywhere. Northern Ireland is proud to be part of this global phenomenon and proud to show the giant spirit that went into help creating it.

To learn more about these stunning locations, check out www.discovernorthernireland.com/gameofthrones. And for more inspirational places to visit in Northern Ireland, when it is safe to do so, visit www.discovernorthernireland.com. Northern Ireland’s giant welcome will be here for you when the time is right.

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