Monday 21 October 2019

Dragonstone: This is Northern Ireland's newest Game of Thrones location

Winter is here

Fair Head, Northern Ireland. Photo: WalkNi.com
Fair Head, Northern Ireland. Photo: WalkNi.com
The Winterfell Festival
Rathlin Island. Photo: Northern Ireland Tourist Board
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Game of Thrones fans weren't the only ones drooling when Jon Snow finally met the Mother of Dragons.

Tourism Ireland and Tourism NI were also in raptures, as the latest location from Northern Ireland made its dramatic entrance.

The Cliffs of Fair Head rise 600 feet above the sea near Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, and form much of the backdrop to scenes set at Dragonstone.

You won't find the castle, sadly (it doesn't exist), or the snaking stone pathway - which is located at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Spain's Basque Country.

Nevertheless, the cliffs are a Westeros-worthy spectacle.

Highly regarded as an outstanding rock-climbing location, Fair Head is believed to form the biggest expanse of climbable rock in Britain or Ireland.

A series of new walking routes take hikers to sweeping views of Ballycastle, Murlough Bay, Rathlin Island and the Scottish isles.

Loops range from 1.5 to 3.4 miles. All are challenging, with good boots, a map and caution (particularly near the cliff edge) required.

Rathlin Island. Photo: Northern Ireland Tourist Board
Rathlin Island. Photo: Northern Ireland Tourist Board

HBO famously films much of Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland, both in Belfast's Paint Hall Studios and locations ranging from the Dark Hedges in Ballymoney (the King's Road) to Castle Ward, Co. Down (where a Winterfell Festival is scheduled for September 24). 

The exposure has been a publicity windfall - with 2017 seeing Tourism Ireland's biggest campaign yet, including a 77-metre tapestry in the Ulster Museum.

Last year's 'Doors of Thrones' campaign, which saw scenes from the series carved on trees blown down in Storm Gertrude and installed at several locations around Northern Ireland, reach an estimate 126 million people around the world.

Fair Head is the 26th publicly-accessible Northern Irish location to feature (locations are kept secret by HBO until they have actually appeared on screen).

The Winterfell Festival
The Winterfell Festival

Other locations nearby include Larrybane, Renly Baratheon’s camp in the Stormlands, and Murlough Bay, which was transformed into Slavers Bay in Season 5.

To view the 26 locations in Northern Ireland, or download the Game of Thrones Filming Locations Northern Ireland app, see discovernorthernireland.com/GameofThrones.

Read more:

Game of Thrones: The Ultimate Travel Guide 

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