Anybody who knows anything about current affairs will have heard of Game of Thrones. If you haven’t then where have you been these past few years? Game of Thrones is an adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire which is one of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novels.
Those that have heard or watched the series will know that there are some serious die hard fans of the series. This is very pleasing to the tourists boards around the world where they did the filming. The team at HBO who produced the show thought long and hard about where to film the series. They needed to find beautiful backdrops to scenes that were fitting for the show.
The majority of the filming was done in Ireland, but they also went to Croatia, Malta and Iceland. Most people wanting the full Game of Thrones are heading to Northern Ireland.
Stepping into Northern Ireland it’s clear to see why they choose locations in the area. Many of the counties have areas known for their outstanding natural beauty. With beautiful old forests, rambling moorlands and mountains, Northern Ireland was the perfect choice for filming locations. Plus there are a number of 18th century castles which were used and are now firm tourist destination favourites. This is great for everyone involved. Those that own the castles can use the extra income Game of Thrones fans are bringing to maintain these old building and estates for many years to come.
So if you want to really immerse yourself in the world of Westeros and Game of thrones Northern Ireland should be your first port of call. You could even meet the real live Direwolves used in the series. Below are some locations which should be on your list.
Winterfell – Home of the Starks
Filming Location: Castle Ward Estate, County Down
If you want to visit the home of the Starks, then it’s Castle Ward in County Down where you need to head. Castle Ward is what stood in for many of the scenes at Winterfell, the farmyard has stayed pretty much the same since it was built in the 18th century. The mansion with its unique architecture of its time creates the perfect backdrop. Today you can visit it and there is a replica of the Winterfell Archery Range in the courtyard in the same spot the filming took place.
Many iconic moments were captured in and around this area. Remember when Jamie and Briene of Tarth left Rob’s camp on their way to Kings Landing? Who can forget when Bran was pushed from Winterfell Castle by Jaime after he Bran caught him having sex with his sister Queen Cersei. Baelor’s Battle, the Winterfell brothel, and the tree where Robb Stark and Talisa got secretly married are all in and around this location. Also the Whispering Wood is in close proximity.
Haunted Forest – Home of the Wildlings
Filming Location: Tollymore Forest Park, County Down
Lying north of the Wall the Haunted Forest was the home to the tribes of wildlings. The actual filming location was in Tollymore Forest Park in County Down. Again the team at HBO got it right as it’s the perfect location for the Haunted Forest. Tollymore Forest Park is surrounded by mountains and houses plenty of old 18th century stone remains. If you remember the beautiful scenery when Ned Stark came across the dead stag, this is the location. It is also the place where they filmed Theon trying to escape from his capturer’s.
Filming Location: Dark Hedges, Ballymoney, County Antrim,
The Kingsroad is the longest and grandest highway in the Seven Kingdoms, running from Castle Black at the Wall all the way south to King’s Landing. In Season 2 Arya Stark escaped from the King’s Landing and travels north on the Kingsroad to escape, dressed as a boy.
Apparently this beautiful avenue of serpentine beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century. Today it is one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.
Filming Location: Inch Abbey, County Down
Inch Abbey is an old religious site and a great early example of Gothic architecture. Now a ruin but it was the perfect back drop for King Robb’s camp. This was where we saw Robb Stark ‘The young wolf’ being crowned ‘The King in the North’.
The only place you can’t visit is the Titanic studios where you will find the Iron Throne. These studios in Belfast where they filmed a lot of the more important scenes including the red wedding. Sadly it is a working studio and not open for tours and visitors. But watch this space. I am sure it won’t be long before they open the doors and the sets up to the public. Perhaps when the final season has aired they might consider setting up the sets to allow for visitors.
Guided Location Tours
There are a number of tours available if you wanted to go on a fully guided tour. Brit Movie Tours offer a 9 hour Game of Thrones Tour visiting a number of iconic locations including Tollymore Forest, Castle Ward Estate, King Robbs Camp and many more. Also you can get a selfie with the real live Direwolves used in the series. To learn more follow the link below.