Game of Thrones studio tour confirmed for Northern Ireland: 'It will open Westeros to everyone'
Authentic sets, costumes, weapons and props will all be on display from spring 2020, HBO says
Game of Thrones is set to end after its eighth and final season, but its tourism potential for Northern Ireland is only beginning.
HBO Licensing & Retail today confirmed that a Game of Thrones Studio Tour will open in Banbridge's Linen Mill Studios by spring of 2020.
Inspired by the smash hit series, the immersive, 110,000-square-foot experience will "open Westeros to everyone", it says, showcasing authentic sets, costumes, weapons and props from all eight seasons.
The tour, which is being designed and built in collaboration with HBO Licensing & Retail, "will drop fans in the very heart of the Seven Kingdoms", allowing visitors re-live key moments from the series "and stand right where they took place".
Linen Mill Studios has been involved with HBO since GoT's get-go, with a third of the show's filming in Northern Ireland shot in Banbridge.
Sets will range from King’s Landing, Winterfell, Dragonstone and The Wall (and beyond) to kingdoms across the Narrow Sea like Mereen and Braavos.
The experience will include "a compelling mix of behind-the scenes insights, interactive elements, and expansive, fully dressed sets," HBO adds, including "a first-of-its-kind collection of informative displays highlighting the production spaces and the craftsmanship and artistry" of its creative teams.
Displays of GoT's Make-up and Prosthetics Shop are also planned.
"Some of the most iconic scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed at Linen Mill Studios and our fans will soon have an opportunity to visit and see the work of the show’s incredible crew in the museum setting it deserves,” said Jeff Peters, vice president of licensing and retail at HBO.
Weekends in Westeros
Northern Ireland has been a key filming location for Game of Thrones for a decade, not only in studio, but using over two dozen locations - ranging from the Dark Hedges at Ballymoney (the Kingsroad, in the series) to Fair Head (Dragonstone) and Castle Ward estate on Strangford Lough, the setting for Winterfell.
The link has been a big driver of tourism, with everything from Game of Thrones bus tours to medieval banquets, archery experiences, tourist passports and even afternoon tea featuring Dothraki trifle - at Ballygally Castle - available to visitors.
The Studio Tour will take that to another level - it could have an impact similar to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter in London, for example.
"The Studio Tour location, midway between Belfast and Dublin, can be easily reached by the 11 million people who visit the Island of Ireland each year," pointed out John McGrillen, Chief Executive of Tourism Northern Ireland.
The smash hit show airs its final series this month, a short burst of six episodes that are among the most-anticipated in TV history.
Last year, HBO Licensing & Retail also announced plans to convert key Northern Irish filming locations into into "legacy" tourist experiences "on a scale and scope bigger than anything the public has ever seen."