Wednesday 26 July 2017

Weekend in Westeros? Northern Ireland launches Game of Thrones passport

Game of Tourists

Audley's Castle, Castle Ward. Picture by Bernie Brown
Audley's Castle, Castle Ward. Picture by Bernie Brown
Journey of Doors Passport - visitors can have it stamped at 10 locations in Northern Ireland
The 'Dark Hedges' in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim featured as a location in Game of Thrones season two.
An animatronic raven perches atop of two signs pointing the way to Game of Thrones locations in Northern Ireland.
Sophie Turner and Aidan Gillen in Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones-inspired door at The Cuan in Strangford, Co. Down. Photo: Tourism Ireland
Game of Thrones props on the loose in Belfast.
Game of Thrones locations, signposted as part of a social media campaign by Tourism Ireland and HBO.
Ballintoy Harbour in Co Antrim featured as the Iron Islands in Game of Thrones
The dark hedges in Co Antrim
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Fancy a sojourn through the Seven Kingdoms? Northern Ireland's new 'Journey of Doors' passport will whisk you away to Westeros in no time.

The Game of Thrones wheeze, similar to the Wild Atlantic Way passport, features locations at which fans of the show can collect unique stamps.

The 10 bars and restaurants all contain wooden doors carved with scenes inspired by the smash hit HBO series, Season 7 of which is set to air this July.

Fittingly, the 'Doors of Thrones' all come from trees blown down in Storm Gertrude last year at the Dark Hedges in Co. Antrim, one of the show's most iconic locations.

Sophie Turner and Aidan Gillen in Game of Thrones
Sophie Turner and Aidan Gillen in Game of Thrones

You can pick a passport up at the 10 pubs and restaurants, at Visitor Information Centres across Northern Ireland, or online here.

Game of Thrones Door Locations:

  1. The Cuan, Strangford, Co. Down
  2. Fiddler's Green, Portaferry, Co. Down
  3. Percy French, Newcastle, Co. Down
  4. Blakes of the Hollow, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
  5. Owens, Limavaddy, Co. Derry
  6. Fullerton Arms, Ballintoy, Co. Antrim
  7. Gracehill House, Stranocum, Co. Antrim
  8. Mary McBride's, Cushenden, Co. Antrim
  9. Ballygally Castle, Ballygally, Co. Antrim
  10. The Dark Horse, Belfast, Co. Antrim

Since it first aired in 2011, Game of Thrones has not just been a smash TV hit, but has driven fans in droves to its filming locations - ranging from the walled city of Dubrovnik in Croatia to the epic volcanic landscapes of Iceland.

A huge portion of the series is filmed in Northern Ireland, at Paint Hall Studios in Belfast, and outdoors at 25 locations... and counting.

A Game of Thrones-inspired door at The Cuan in Strangford, Co. Down. Photo: Tourism Ireland
A Game of Thrones-inspired door at The Cuan in Strangford, Co. Down. Photo: Tourism Ireland

Most famous are the Dark Hedges at Ballymoney (the Kingsroad, in the series), Ballintoy Harbour (the Iron Islands) and the 820-acre Castle Ward estate on Strangford Lough, the setting for Winterfell (home of the honourable Starks).

Businesses have been quick to cash in on the phenomenon - offering Game of Thrones bus tours, self-guided cycles, medieval banquets, sea safaris, archery experiences, and even afternoon tea featuring Dothraki trifle with mini dragon's eggs.

You'll find the latter at Ballygally Castle Hotel in Larne.

Tourism Northern Ireland and Tourism Ireland have been on the ball in drawing a connection between the filming locations and landscapes, too.

Journey of Doors Passport - visitors can have it stamped at 10 locations in Northern Ireland
Journey of Doors Passport - visitors can have it stamped at 10 locations in Northern Ireland

Visitors can download a Game of Thrones filming locations app, and social media-friendly stunts have ranged from three-eyed, animatronic ravens photographed at Belfast City Hall to "true-to-scale" giant’s footprints on Portstewart Strand.

In 2016, the 'Doors of Thrones' campaign reached an estimated 126 million people around the world, generating £11.3/€13.3 million worth of coverage.

Summer is coming, it seems.

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