“Game of Thrones” might be ending in May, but the powerhouse fantasy series will live on when HBO turns Northern Ireland into a GoT theme park of sorts. The network has announced the first of several permanent “legacy fan experiences” at Linen Mill Studios, where much of the show was filmed.
In collaboration with HBO Licensing & Retail, Linen Mill Studios, located in Banbridge between Belfast and Dublin, will convert some of the show’s most iconic sets — the Starks’ Winterfell Castle, the Greyjoys’ Pyke, the Tullys’ Riverrun, and the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave — into a 110,000-square-foot attraction, no doubt with ample opportunities for fans to dress up as and act like their favorite characters from the show.
Linen Mill Studios will open the interactive experience to visitors in Spring of next year. It will showcase original costumes, props, and weapons used to create the worlds of Westeros and Essos during all seasons of the series, including the eighth and final season, debuting April 14.
Along with the massive set pieces, visiting fans will be able to read information displays that highlight the craftsmanship and artistry responsible for bringing the epic series to life. In a recent New York Times story, a Northern Ireland resident said that “there are not many people in this country who haven’t been involved” with the show, either making items for it, working on it, or doing tours of filming sites.
“Game of Thrones” has transformed Northern Ireland into a leading international screen tourism destination, said Judith Webb, Tourism Northern Ireland’s screen tourism specialist. Tourism Northern Ireland estimates “Game of Thrones” tourism has generated almost $40 million (£30 million) to Northern Ireland’s economy, she told Convene.
“We anticipate that the growth of ‘Games of Thrones’ tourism will continue for a number of years as the show has a fan base who are highly motivated to travel and explore the ‘Home of Thrones’ in Northern Ireland,” she wrote in an email to Convene.
Unofficial tours already are available, with many filming sites adding their own “Game of Thrones” elements to already established attractions. Castle Ward in Northern Ireland, for example, serves as the show’s Winterfell, home of the Stark family. The National Trust site, already a public attraction, hosted its first Winterfell Festival in September 2018.
Other Irish stops on travelers’ must-see lists include the Dark Hedges, which is used as the King’s Road in the series, the Binevenaugh, which served as the Dothraki grasslands, and Dunluce Castle, the 17th-century ruins used as the exterior of the House of Greyjoy. Visit Belfast offers information about “Game of Thrones” site tours.
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