20 Apr 2021
It has been 10 years since HBO’s Game of Thrones® first captivated audiences in living rooms around the world, making TV history and putting the ‘real Westeros’ on the map.
To celebrate, the show’s creators have launched The Iron Anniversary, a month-long series of events marking the success of the TV phenomenon.
The network’s 10th anniversary commemorations include a custom spotlight page with personalised curations on HBO Max, a binge-watching marathon, special-edition products and even surprise Thrones-branded gifts for three couples who were married in Westeros-themed ceremonies.
The anniversary is a reminder that the Game of Thrones® spectacle first burst onto TV screens on 17 April 2011. As the story unfolded over eight dramatic seasons and more than 70 hours of sensational storytelling, HBO and the Game of Thrones® cast and crew made Northern Ireland their home.
With filming beginning in 2010, the country, the giant spirit of the people and the atmospheric heritage of an array of stunning locations soon became integral to the soul of the show and today its legacy lives on in the place where it was created.
Plan ahead to see the ‘real Westeros’ when we are able to travel again. This is where you can get closest to the spirit and the action of the legendary series in a wide range of attractions, tours and authentic experiences related to the show.
Multiple Game of Thrones® tours are available to explore the filming locations that formed the backdrop to the series, with many led by locals who worked as actors, extras, drivers and crew who can share great insider stories.
Key touring destinations include the famous Causeway Coastal Route, where sites such as the brooding Dark Hedges became the Kingsroad, the cliffs at Fair Head stood in for Dragonstone Cliffs and the quaint Ballintoy Harbour was portrayed as Lordsport Harbour in the Iron Islands.
Or head south of Belfast to Old Castle Ward in County Down, which doubled as Winterfell, home of the Stark family. This National Trust property has many ‘Thrones’ shooting locations on site and is rich in authentic experiences related to the show. George R. R. Martin himself, the acclaimed author of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels on which Game of Thrones® is based, made a rare public appearance at Castle Ward in 2019 after the series had finished airing.
The Dark Hedges, County Antrim
During his visit, the ‘Father of Dragons’ praised the “marvellous” filming locations for the show, adding: “Seeing Game of Thrones® come alive in Northern Ireland was a unique thrill. My mind is still boggled a little by it.”
Elsewhere in Northern Ireland, you can grab a selfie on Belfast’s Glass of Thrones Trail, which is a set of giant stained-glass window installations representing the Houses of the Seven Kingdoms. You can also start or finish a Journey of Thrones in the Dark Horse restaurant in city, a trip that takes in ten intricately carved Doors of Thrones hung in pubs and restaurants near film locations. Carved from trees felled by a storm on the ‘Kingsroad’, the doors depict inspiring scenes from Season 6.
And keep your eyes peeled for the opening of the exciting new first-of-its-kind Game of Thrones® Studio Tour, which will see HBO turn Linen Mill Studios, one of the show’s key facilities in Northern Ireland, into a major ‘Thronie’ experience.
The deeply immersive, high-sensory attraction will feature fully dressed sets, authentic costumes, weaponry and props, all evoking the magnificence of the show.
Though a specific date has not yet been announced, it is hoped the Game of Thrones Studio Tour will open sometime in 2021.
Fair Head, County Antrim
The Dark Horse, Belfast
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