Ah Game of Thrones. Lets face it, I was going to talk about it on my blog sooner or later considering its one of my biggest obsessions and favourite TV shows of all time. So why not start by telling you fellow GOT fans out there about one of my favourite holidays, which was to Belfast in Northern Ireland. The Holiday itself was a gift to me from my wonderful boyfriend for my 21st birthday. We both love the show and was one of the things we both connected with when we first met, so this holiday was perfect not only for me but for the both of us.
“So what does Belfast got anything to do with Game of Thrones?” I here you say, well you may not know but Titanic Studios in Belfast was one of the main filming locations for the show and where most of the important production meetings were held, its main “hub” as you might say. And with its fantastic countryside only being a 20 minute drive from the main city, it was the perfect location to venture out for various filming locations in the show.
If you’re not much of a reader (because I’m fully aware of how much I blabber on) but still want to know what our little Game Of Thrones adventure was like, head over to my Instagram @ifyousee_rachel. Here you can scroll along my highlights and find these and see what I experienced when it happened!
The moment we hopped off the plane and checked into our hotel, we headed straight out into to the city to hunt for the Game of Thrones Touring Exhibition (looking like absolute trash from my early flight but honestly at this point I was so excited I didn’t even care). We was lucky enough to go in July 2019, just after the season 8 finale, meaning the touring exhibition had arrived in Belfast a few months beforehand and was there until September. We arrived into the Titanic quarter of Belfast city and followed the signs heading towards the exhibition, around the same area as the filming studios. To my surprise once we arrived, right next to the exhibition all fenced off and quite badly hidden, was THE SET still all there, for burnt up Kings Landing and the massive green screen! I was amazed.
Once I had taken a few pictures of the set and the massive exhibition signage, we headed inside! It started with a proffesional photo taken of us in front of a greenscreen, pretending to be on top of Drogon! A group of us all then crammed into one room and watched a small clip highlighting the best bits from the show to get us all hyped up for what was outside the room. The doors then opened and we was let in to view all the amazing costumes and set props from the show! It was honestly so surreal and amazing to see all these beautiful creations up close, knowing they were the exact items and clothing the actors used and wore on set. You didn’t have any time limit on how long you spent in there and you didn’t have to follow a group, which was great to make sure you got to view and take pictures of everything. There was also lots of interactive bits, like getting your face put on the wall of faces and various picture opportunities (I did all of them of course). Andddd finally at the end of the exhibition, there was an AMAZING gift shop where I could of honestly drained my whole bank account but controlled myself and bought a Stark t-shirt and a neat lil stark keyring. Then at the very end, there was another proffesional photo shoot of you sitting on the throne and then a desk to purchase and print your photos (this was an extra cost to buy these but hell it was my birthday and spent ALOT getting them all printed, whoops)
Overall, The Game of Thrones Touring Exhibition was such a great experience and seeing the set outside the entrance was such a lovely little bonus! Below you can take a look at some of the photos I took.
My Pictures from Game of Thrones Touring Exhibition – July 2019
On the next day of our holiday, we had no time to have any sort of lay-in, as today was our 11 hour walking tour of a few filming locations in Northern Ireland, including Winterfell’s beautiful location set at a real castle. This tour was also a gift for my 21st birthday, but worked out so well as today was also my boyfriend Jack’s birthday as well! Once we’d opened his birthday presents and got ourselves ready (both wearing stark t-shirts, blue jeans and boots how cringe) we headed out to meet our group at Belfast’s Jurys Inn hotel at 8:15am. Me and Jack in our excitement were one of the first people there and got the front seats on the coach like the eager GOT nerds we are. Once we had all arrived, we were introduced to our tour guide of the day, who was an extra on the show and obviously was a huge fan like the rest of us.
After about an hour on the coach and a short ferry trip, we arrived at Castle Ward, which was the filming location for Winterfell. It started to rain a little bit (typical of Northern Ireland) but I was honestly living the dream knowing I was walking around the same area where all my favourite actors and actresses had been. Out tour guide was so well prepared and had big, laminated photos with him to show you what the location actually looks like compared to what your saw on TV. After our time at Winterfell, we carried on walking around the area to various other filing locations, including the hanging tree, Robb Starks camp and Walder Frey’s twin towers.
It was defiantly time for a quick break to rest our legs and have some lunch, and where better place to go then The Cuan! This was the restaurant and hotel some of the actors stayed at during the filming of the show, as it was so close to the filming locations near by. The owners embraced its relevance to Game of Thrones, displaying pictures and costumes from the show, and even had its own beer called “The Hodoor” and sold “Kings Gold Mead”. Our tour guide quickly called us outside and said he had a surprise for us, and well, he did not disappoint. Outside waiting for us in a small courtyard was the two Direwolf dogs, named Odin and Thor, that played Robb Stark’s wolf Grey Wind and Bran Stark’s wolf Summer. Omgggggg I was in love. Their owner was amazing and let us all take turns taking pictures and stroking them, whilst telling us some amazing stories of what it was like being on set with his puppies. You can check out their Instagram page here to see for yourself how beautiful they are and keep up with their adventures. There were also some other guys there that were also extras on the show, selling lots of merch and painted photos (I of course bought a massive Stark banner which currently hangs on the ceiling above my bed!)
We hopped back onto the coach and headed to our next location “Inch Abbey” where Robb Stark was crowned King of the North. When we arrived, we all got given these hand made Stark cloaks, shields and flags to get fully immersed into our Game of Thrones adventure and took lots of photos which looked awesome! Our tour guide handed around some of the swords from the show and had us guess the names and which character it belonged to (my favourite obviously being Long Claw belonging to Jon Snow). After we had our fun, we headed back onto the coach to our last location Tollymore Forest. A beautiful forest park that covers over 1,600 acers of land and was used to film many key scenes in the show, including where Wills finds the dismembered bodies in the very first scene of the show, Tyrion and Jon’s campfire on their way up north to the wall and where the Starks find there Direwolf puppies. After our very long day, we headed back into Belfast city centre, thanking our tour guide and feeling fully immersed into the Game of Thrones world.
I would fully recommend going on this tour, especially if you’re a fan of the show, but even if you’re not! It’s an amazing way to get to see some of Northern Irelands best scenery and meet some amazing people. It was so well organised and was looked after very well, making sure we all had many toilet breaks, handing out ponchos when it rained and kept us entertained on our long coach journeys. All this for only £45 each which I honestly think is an amazing price for the experience you get. If you would like to also go on this tour, we went of The Winterfell Trek which you can click here to read about OR you can also do The Iron Islands Tour which we haven’t yet done but can read about here.
My Pictures from the Winterfell Trek – Game of Thrones Tour
Now there is a reason why I named this post what it is, because Belfast and Northern Ireland in general truly is the land of Game of Thrones. As soon as you hop off the plane and into Belfast airports, you are welcomed with posters everywhere advertising various tours, experiences and merch all related to the show. I honestly think this is fantastic and our tour guide explained to us how Game of Thrones has changed this country for the better.
Before the show, Belfast was really only ever known for building the Titanic, yes and incredible and famous boat but didn’t really interest most people (and lets be honest it sunk so it can’t of been built very well, oops). But ever since Game of Thrones came to Northern Ireland, tourists from all around the world have travelled here to fulfil their GOT fantasy’s and learn more about the show. This has been FANTASTIC for the tourist industry in Northern Ireland and has created many job opportunities in and around Belfast city. He explained to us that most of the extras from the show are from Belfast and loved their job so much that they didn’t want their Game of Thrones lives to end. This is why most tours and experiences are all lead and managed by these extras, so they can share their love with Game of Thrones with the rest of the world and get to carry on their fantasy.
It seems like every corner you turn in Belfast city, there is always going to be something GOT related about to jump out at you, but one of my favourite parts was a project called “Glass of Thrones”. Dotted all around the city was 6 stained glass windows, beautifully decorated to depict some of the most iconic scenes from Game of Thrones. My favourite being the very last, and most hidden one, The Iron Throne, with a little seat on it to have a photo on! This was such a lovely little touch to the city and really showed how much Belfast appreciated Game of Thrones.
You can also find lots of other Game of Thornes related things in Belfast city, like themed escape rooms, shop window displays selling merch and jewellery, even down to random graffiti saying “jon snow waz ‘here”. We visited the Ulster museum which displayed an iron throne made all out willow, created for the European premier and for final season after party. And if you’re being really adventurous, we went on a hunt to find more set around the Titanic quarter which at the time was all still there and very interesting to look at! Obviously it was all fenced up and hidden, but that didn’t stop me having a little peak through the fences! Another little touch that I love about Northern Ireland is that the created something called “The Journey of Doors” . The filming location for the Kings Road in the show was hit by a storm and some of these trees fell, but they used two of these trees to create 10 GOT themed doors and dotted them all around Northern Ireland pubs. In each of the pubs you can gain a stamp on a little booklet to say you have visited each one. We unfortunately on got to find two as we had a very busy holiday planned out, but if we ever went back to Northern Ireland, this is something I would defiantly like to continue and find them all!
I’m so glad Game of Thrones has made such a positive impact to the tourist industry in Northern Ireland and I really hope this continues even after the show has finished… or has it….
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And here we are again at and end of a blog post. If you really have sat and read this much thank you so much for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my little Game of Thrones Adventure to Belfast and would love for you to visit their too!