There’s more to Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland than The Dark Hedges – though it’s a cracking place to start. As a country I feel we’ve really embraced everything we can with regards to arguably the biggest TV show of all time. I’ve rounded up some of the great attractions and experiences you can do if you’re a Game of Thrones fan.
1. Game of Thrones themed Afternoon Tea at Ballygally Castle
Located on the Antrim Coast, Ballygally Castle is just a short drive from many a Game of Thrones filming location. Situated minutes from the Dark Hedges (filmed as the Kingsroad in Game of Thrones), Ballintoy Harbour (The Iron Islands) and Cairncastle (featured in Season 5 for scenes with Littlefinger and Sansa), Ballygally Castle is also home to Door of Thrones No9. You’ll be treated to sandwiches, Jon Snow cakes and pastries including Dothraki Trifle with Mini Dragon’s Egg.
2. The Game of Thrones doors
Following the fall of several trees from the iconic Dark Hedges during Storm Gertrude at the start of 2016, Tourism Ireland have salvaged the wood from 2 of these magnificent Beech trees and transformed them into 10 ornately carved wooden doors, each depicting moments inspired by this season. The doors were unveiled each week as season six unfolded – referencing key scenes and events from the latest episode and incorporating some of the iconic symbols of the show. These 10 ‘Doors of Thrones’ hang in pubs, restaurants and other venues across Northern Ireland, near filming locations. You can read my round up of these Doors of Thrones here including a handy Google map to all their locations.
3. Winterfell Tours
Home of House Stark, Castle Ward transforms during filming season to Winterfell. Just 40 minutes outside Belfast at Winterfell Tours you can experience everything from archery with Winterfell’s Master of Arms to meeting Thor and Odin, 2 of the dogs used onset as the Stark’s direwolves.
4. Game of Thrones Tour of filming locations
Obviously there is more than one filming location in Northern Ireland (in fact there are dozens, but the list wouldn’t exactly fit into ‘8 Game of Thrones things to do’! From Ballintoy Harbour to the Dark Hedges, Cairncastle to Cushendon Caves there is a vast array of places to visit that will be instantly recognisable from some of the key scenes in Game of Thrones from season 1 to 6. Again, shameless plug but we did a tour of the key filming locations and you can find the blog here.
5. Valyrian Steel at Ox
Combining metal from a meteorite with obsidian (aka dragon glass) from a volcano, and forging them together in the hottest fires on earth (no really they genuinely went to all this trouble), Tourism Ireland have created as close a metal to Valyrian Steel as you’re going to find. These blades found a home in Ox, Belfast. The Michelin star restaurant display these in a beautiful case mounted on the wall. In the set you will find a paring knife (12cm blade), a utility knife (17cm blade) and a chef’s knife (23cm blade).
6. Steensons Jewellers
Steensons family jewellers have a long standing tradition for hand made, beautifully crafted jewellery and it was for this reason that HBO approached them to make some of the most recognised pieces in the show including the crowns worn by Joffery and Margaery for their wedding, Daenerys’ dragon brooches and Sansa’s ‘poison’ necklace to name but a few. With shops in both Belfast and Glenarm they have license to sell special Game of Thrones jewellery in store only so make sure to drop by and see some of their beautiful items.
7. Westeros Steak at The Percy French
Both Ballygally Castle and The Percy French Inn at Slieve Donard Resort and Spa were gifted a Door of Thrones from Tourism Ireland following the aforementioned Storm Gertrude. To celebrate you can now also enjoy a Westeros Steak at both locations. This unique “Westeros Tomahawk” design has been specially prepared by Carnbrooke Meats in Dromore and is served on a wooden platter with a “Valyrian Steel” inspired carving knife.
8. The Game of Thrones Banquet at The Cuan
Home of the first Door of Thrones, The Cuan offers accommodation as well as a bar and restaurant where many of the stars stayed during the filming of season one due to its proximity to Castle Ward / Winterfell. As such The Cuan has taken the opportunity to host an array of Game of Thrones themed evenings including a grand banquet AND a murder mystery night.