27/03/2019

Explore NI's Top Game Of Thrones Locations & Experiences

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The excitement is building among Game of Thrones fans with the final season set to air in only a matter of weeks. Living in Northern Ireland, we're lucky enough to have the majority of its filming locations right on our doorstep, from the northern lands of Winterfell to the southern island of Dragonstone. Medieval buildings, rugged mountains and dramatic coastlines make the region the perfect film set for the epic series and with plenty of GoT-themed experiences on offer, you can dive into the land of Westeros a little earlier than the season eight premiere on Sunday 14 April. We've compiled a guide to NI's top attractions from the HBO series, but please beware- for the list is long and full of spoilers.

Walk the same steps as your GoT heroes in these popular spots:

Castle Ward, Strangford, County Down
Castle Ward appeared in the fantasy series as Winterfell- the home of House Stark. The perfect spot for an afternoon adventure, it boasts an 18th century mansion situated on a beautiful 820-acre demesne with gardens and a woodland, as well as the historic farmyard that formed the backdrop for many key scenes including Rob Stark's Camp, the Baelor battle and when Brienne confronts the Stark men.
For the keen fans among us, Castle Ward now offers the Game of Thrones Overnight Glamping Experience where you can spend a night fully immersed in the world of Westeros. You can dress in a Stark costume and enjoy firing arrows at the Winterfell Archery Range before exploring the 10 other filming hotspots on the demesne. Also included is a day cycling the grounds and recreating your favourite GoT moments, for which you'll be provided with a Stark Sack containing a medieval scroll map, costumes, and role play swords.
A one night mini break is priced at £250 per couple.
Ballintoy Harbour, County Antrim
Featuring on season two as the setting for Theon Greyjoy's return to the Iron Islands, Ballintoy is a small fishing harbour located at the end of Knocksaughey hill which passes by the entrance to Larrybane and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. The quaint stop was where Theon first met his sister Yara, and also appeared as some of the areas around Dragonstone.
Tollymore Forest Park, County Down
This popular location features regularly in Game of Thrones. It forms the backdrop of the Haunted Forest where the Three Night's Watch men encounter a White Walker and is also the scene for Theon Greyjoy's escape when he's pursued by Ramsay Snow.
Flowing through the park is the Shimna River, marked by many curiosities- rocky outcrops, bridges, grottos and caves. Elsewhere the tree lover can examine exotic trees such as monkey puzzle and eucalyptus or admire the tall giant redwoods.
Dark Hedges, Stranocum, County Antrim
To some it's just a country road surrounded by farmer's fields, but the Dark Hedges represents one of the most photographed areas in Northern Ireland. The picturesque avenue of beech trees doubled as the Kingsroad on which young Arya Stark travelled, along with Yoren, Gendry and Hot Pie- all the new recruits for the night's Watch. This location has attracted visitors from all across the world.

As well as multiple other filming spots from the series, Northern Ireland also boasts various tours and experiences suitable for enthusiastic fans of the series…

The Doors of Game of Thrones
When a few of the iconic trees along the famous Dark Hedges blew over during Storm Gertrude in 2016, their history was preserved for fans and they were carved into 10 intricate doors. Now a popular fan location in themselves, the doors are hung across a variety of locations in Northern Ireland and each tell the story of an episode from season six.
Download a passport, available from Discover NI and collect 10 unique stamps along the way.
Each door is located near a filming location for your convenience, and all are functioning doors within some of the region's most rural pubs:
Door 1: The Cuan, Strangford, Co Down with nearby filming locations: Castle Ward, Audley's Field, Quoile River and Inch Abbey.
Door 2: Fiddler's Green, Portaferry, Co Down, situated two miles east of Quintin Bay which formed the backdrop for Stokeworth in season 5.
Door 3: Percy French, Newcastle, Co Down at the foot of the Mournes near the season 1 filming spot of Tollymore Forest Park.
Door 4: Blakes of the Hollow, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.
Door 5: Owens, Limavady, Co L'Derry- only a few miles from Downhill Beach, used as Dragonstone in season 2 and Binevenagh, the shooting location for the Dothraki Grasslands of season 5.
Door 6: Fullerton Arms, Ballintoy, Co Antrim. The stunning location of Ballintoy Harbour became synonymous with Pyke and the Iron Islands in season 2, and was also represented as Dragonstone in season 4.
Door 7: Gracehill House, Stranocum, Co Antrim, close to the Dark Hedges- arguably the most famous filming spot from the show.
Door 8: Mary McBride's, Cushendun, Co Antrim. Nearby filming location: Cushendun Caves, used as a cove in the Stormlands.
Door 9: Ballygally Castle, Co Antrim where the Game of Thrones crew could often be spotted near Cairncastle, Carnlough Harbour, the Glens of Antrim, Sallagh Braes and Shillnavogy Valley.
Door 10: The Dark Horse, Belfast. This European style coffee house can be found in the cobbles of the Cathedral Quarter and features on many of the dedicated GoT tours.

Game of Thrones Tapestry
From Winterfell to the Iron Islands, an intricate tapestry that details the most infamous events, locations and characters of the series can be viewed at the Ulster Museum in Belfast. Weaving the story from seasons 1 to 7, fans can reminisce over every episode so far, with further panels depicting the events of season 8 to be added in June 2019.
Hand finished in Northern Ireland, the tapestry features King Joffrey's golden crown and Daenerys' shimmering white and silver hair, with threads of metallic, cotton and silk yarns bringing vibrancy.
Admission is free, but the experience is not suitable for anyone under the age of 18 due to its depiction of graphic scenes.

GoT to Escape- Belfast's newest escape room
GoT to Escape is Belfast's only escape room inspired by the fantasy series, and is a must for any budding fans. The purpose-built space offers three rooms inspired by the show as well as one mystery room- each designed to last up to one hour for five players.
Upon arrival at the Church Lane facility you will enter a new world, with a game master on hand to explain each challenge. You will enter your room with a closed (never locked) door packed full of clues and puzzles.
Everyone can be a hero with this experience as you don't need any specific knowledge to play. Find out more and book your session here.

(JG/CM)

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