Exploring The Sets Of Game Of Thrones In Belfast

Posted in Travel

Game of Thrones has become such a household name that Northern Ireland city Belfast has been so much tourism due to it they’re anticipating a shortage of hotel rooms next year. The vast majority of the hit HBO show is filmed right in Belfast with almost all of the internal sets being filmed in an old shipping block where the Titanic was built now called the Titanic Studios, or The Paint Hall to workers. The huge studio spends about five months’ of the years in constant filming mode, and the outdoor sets are again mainly filmed in Northern Ireland (Winterfell/ Castle Black/ The Wall etc), and other external locations include Dubrovnik for King’s Landing and Iceland/ Sevil.

Over the early May Bank Holiday weekend, me and my boyfriend were in Belfast and we booked onto the Winterfell Locations Trek with an official tour group. There’s also tours which depart from Dublin (although there are longer drives to location sets), and you can also do the Iron Islands & Giant’s Causeway Adventure which I already have earmarked for next time I’m in the city. If you’re looking to see sights exactly as you’ve seen them on TV then there’s no point doing this tour as a lot of the Game of Thrones set you see is CGI and you’d probably walk right past a lot of the important outdoor sets not knowing that they’re there.

The great thing about going with the official tour providers is because the tour guides are or have been extras on the TV show themselves so there’s a lot of information about how sets were made, casting details and just small snippets of information which other tours just can’t provide and you can’t just wiki yourself to do a self-guided tour. We had Thorn as our tour guide who is an extra in the Nights’ Watch and it was so interesting hearing more about the life of an extra and the funny tales like when his cloak kept catching fire during one of the feast scenes.

After meeting the coach at 8.45am we made a prompt 9am depature setting off to the Castle Ward Estate for a 3km trek around the grounds unearthing some of the locations used for Winterfell. After an hour driving, we had to get a ferry across ‘the Narrows’ on the oldest continually active ferry crossing in the world. The ride itself only took about ten minutes but the drive around would have been hours. When we arrived at the Castle Ward Estate we were taken to a 16th-century castle and stable yard which is used as the film location of Winterfell. I had no idea but there’s actually only one tower which is copied and pasted multiple time and mixed in with some CGI to create the whole of Winterfell. The tour guide showed us some images of both what we’re seeing versus what we see on the TV and it’s fascinating how they turn one small area into something so magnificent on the TV. Next up we saw a small Tower House which served as Robb’s Camp in the Riverlands and one of Walder Frey’s Twins. There were other cool locations around here including where Brienne of Tarth dispatched three Stark bannermen and where the Battlefield of Baelor was filmed.

 

After our trek of about an hour and a half, we headed back to a pub called The Cuan where we had pre-ordered our lunch which was lovely as it was the location where some of the actors stayed during the first few seasons filming, and there’s an awesome door inside which was made from the wood of one of the fallen tree’s in the Dark Hedges. After our lunch we headed outside to be greeted by two of the real direwolves used within the TV show and I was blown away. The dogs themselves are so docile and friendly and we told a bit about how they were trained and how they’re made to look scary and ferocious on TV when they’re not at all like that in reality. The two we met were Greywind and Summer and we were able to have photos taken with them. This was an aspect of the tour I hadn’t expected and it was such a great addition. The guys who own the dogs and pretty much all their family have been extras in the TV show and it was interesting to hear from them.

direwolves

The next stop was a photo stop at Inch Abbey which is the ruins of a 12th Century Abbey and was where Catelyn and Robb hear the terrible news from Kings Landing and where Robb’s bannermen pledge fealty to him as the ‘King in the North’. We were all given cloaks and swords so we could take photos and there were also replica’s of some of the swords’ from the show including Longclaw, Needle, and Oathkeeper which was given to Brienne.

Next up it was our afternoon trek over in Tollymore Forest which is used as the backdrop for many key scenes including in the first episode where Will finds the dismembered bodies in the snow, where the Starks discover a dead direwolf and her pups and where Tyrion and Jon’s campfire on their journey north of the wall was. Our guide showed small parts of episodes to show us where exactly things were shot and it was little things like this which brought it to life.

After our second trek we headed back in the coach for Belfast City Centre arriving back about 6.20pm, so it really was a full on day but worth every single minute of it. If you’re a fan of the show then is definitely a tour must for you.

May 18, 2017
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  • Mummy Times Two

    Oooo I didn’t know about these tours, I have a friend who would love to do this. Thanks for sharing x

  • Donna

    Oh that looks like so much fin, what a fab day out!! Would love to do it!

  • Melanie Edjourian

    It sounds like the tour was fun. I would have loved to have met the direwolves they look so cute.

  • Savi and Vid

    Omg what a cool opportunity – looks like the perfect day out even though the weather was grim 🙂

  • Melanie Williams

    This lools like an amazing unique day out. Those wolves are so cute btw 🙂 x

  • Baby Isabella

    My Grandma lives in Belfast so we have visited a lot of those locations already. Castle Ward was fab and we loved seeing the courtyard from the show x looks like you had fun exploring N.Ireland x

  • Oh wow I bet that was an amazing experience to get to tour some of the set of such a big programme. I can imagine it’s a must do for any fans.

  • I am so freaking jealous, I am such a big fan of Game of Thrones and you are so lucky that you got to visit. I like that Thorn who is an extra was there as a guide. Plus the doggies omg x

  • Alison Rost

    My husband is a huge fan of Game of Thrones. How exciting to get to tour the set! x

  • Angela Milnes

    Omg, This is absolutely looks amazing it looks I want to see this in live. I love this post

  • Nayna Kanabar

    My nephew is a big fan of Game of Thrones so this is something he would love to visit.I am going to tell him about it.

  • Leah Shafik

    I LOVE Game of Thrones! I can’t wait till the final series comes on later this year x

  • this makes me even more excited for the next season. this is such an awesome day, i need to go one day and soon

  • I’ve been desperate to start watching Game of Thrones, but we have so many programmes running at the moment that we are waiting for those to end. I can’t wait to start watching, and would love to go to Belfast. Thanks for the heads up on the room shortage that is projected! x

  • This tour looks amazing, I’ve never actually watched game of thrones (probably the only person in the world) but my Mum loves it! She would love this tour! xo

  • Annie Bean

    So jealous! This is something I want to do. I am going to Dubrovnik so hoping to explore all the Game of Thrones bits there.

  • Deborah Nicholas

    I think this would def be interesting even though I wasn’t really a fan of the shows. (I know I’m in the minority)!

  • My brother would love this – he’s obsessed with Game of Thrones! x

  • Although I’m not a fan of that movie, I must say this representation sounds like lots of fun 🙂

  • jennifuchs

    I have to admit I’ve never read the books or seen the movies, but this sounds like a great day out! Love the swords.

  • ive not read the books but have seen the lot and loved it ,

  • Jayne

    What an awesome experience, looks like you guys had a fab time! Love the pic of you both together with the wolves 🙂 x

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