Celebrating the 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 over a decade since Game of Thrones® began filming here. HBO are celebrating the hit fantasy series’ TV debut with a month-long celebration referred to as the Iron Anniversary.
Places such as Tollymore Forest and The Dark Hedges 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.
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 acclaimed series.
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 breath-taking 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, when it is safe to do so.
Did you know…
- There are countless Game of Thrones® filming locations dotted around Northern Ireland. You can take a tour by bus, be led by an insider or DIY if that’s how you roll. You might recognise The Kingsroad, Slaver’s Bay and Dragonstone Cliffs in County Antrim and Winterfell, Stokeworth and The Haunted Forest in County Down. Hollow Hill was set in County Fermanagh, with Dragonstone and the Dothraki Grasslands in County Londonderry.
- 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 stunning images of the filming landscapes.
- 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 Cushendun Caves (A Cove in the Stormlands) or Fair Head (Dragonstone Cliffs). If you fancy splashing out, an aerial tour across some stunning filming locations may well be the experience of a lifetime. Fly like a dragon over Portstewart Strand (Coast of Dorne), Binevenagh (Dothraki Grasslands) and many more.
- Castle Ward in County Down doubled as Winterfell in Season 1. Here, you can take a filming location cycling tour, try out your archery skills or stay over in a very cool glamping pod. Nearby at The Cuan, take a seat, savour the local flavours and eat like King Robert Baratheon or for something less formal but still regal, try a themed afternoon tea in the Ballygally Castle, County Antrim.
- There is a Glass of Thrones dedicated walking trail throughout Belfast, dotted along the Maritime Mile. 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 this art form to life.
- 10 Doors of Thrones, intricately carved from the iconic Kingsroad trees that were felled in a dramatic real-life storm, hang in a range of locations across Northern Ireland. Each door tells a story from Season 6. You’ll find them at restaurants or pubs, such as Fiddler’s Green in Portaferry, Percy French in Newcastle, the aptly named Blakes of the Hollow in Enniskillen, Owens in Limavady, Mary McBride’s in Cushendun and The Dark Horse in Belfast, to name a few. Don’t forget to get your Journey of Doors Passport stamped at each location – a must-have souvenir for all Thronies.
- 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. Another fun fact, Belfast International Airport was renamed Westeros Airport in December 2017 to celebrate the Game of Thrones® Season 7 Blu-ray/DVD release.
- In 2019, the Game of Thrones® Touring Exhibition returned to Belfast for its third visit. Visitors from all over the world immersed themselves into the land of Westeros at the exhibition and saw the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into the one-of-a-kind pieces on display.
- The 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. The tapestry came back in 2019 and was completed to include the most memorable moments from Season 8, making it an impressive 87-metre long work of art. It attracted over 200,000 visitors whilst on display at the Ulster Museum, Belfast during its 18 months stay.
- The new and first of its kind Game of Thrones™ Studio Tour will open its gates for visitors later this year. It will comprise of breath-taking 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.
In Northern Ireland, Game of Thrones® experiences are everywhere. Northern Ireland is proud to be part of this global phenomenon. To learn more about these stunning locations, check out www.discovernorthernireland.com/gameofthrones.