AttractionsThe world of Westeros is brought to life in Northern Ireland with an elaborate £40m interactive experience.

Will Game of Thrones Studio Tour be Ireland’s new crowning glory?

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The world's first official Game of Thrones Studio Tour opened on 4 February.
The world's first official Game of Thrones Studio Tour opened on 4 February. Photo Credit: Twitter/Game of Thrones Studio Tour

Since HBO aired the fantasy drama TV series Game of Thrones in 2011, its popularity rapidly skyrocketed and culminated in record-setting ratings numbering in the millions over eight seasons. With the launch of the first official Game of Thrones Studio Tour on 4 February, will this attraction in Northern Ireland live up to its globally renowned fame and similarly take the world by storm?

Encompassing a vast 10,200sqm, the interactive experience, that cost £40 million (US$54 million) to build, is situated at the series’ original filming location at Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, Northern Ireland. The attraction promises to transport visitors into the series’ fictional world of Westeros with its highly detailed sets, original props, and intricate costumes.

Fans can immerse themselves in the cultural phenomenon from walking through the iconic Great Hall at Winterfell where Jon Snow was proclaimed the “King in the North”, marvelling at the imposing Iron Throne itself, transforming into a White Walker via a digital screen, and delving into the props, weaponry and visual effects that showcase the skills and craftmanship that helped bring Game of Thrones to life.

Kristian Nairn ('Hodor'), Nathalie Emmanuel ('Missandei'), and Isaac Hempstead Wright ('Bran Stark') helped ‘Break the Chains’ to celebrate the attraction's grand opening.
Kristian Nairn ('Hodor'), Nathalie Emmanuel ('Missandei'), and Isaac Hempstead Wright ('Bran Stark') helped ‘Break the Chains’ to celebrate the attraction's grand opening. Photo Credit: Twitter/Game of Thrones Studio Tour

It is hoped that the newly launched Game of Thrones Studio Tour will further strengthen Northern Ireland’s positioning as a ‘must-visit’ destination. Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland shared that prior to the opening of the studio tour, the Game of Thrones series had already contributed to a rise in tourism.

“Over the past decade, Northern Ireland has welcomed fans from around the globe to the ‘real-world Westeros’ – home to the stunning landscapes, coastlines and mountains that have featured in some of the show’s most memorable scenes,” he said. “We are really excited about the opening of Game of Thrones Studio Tour at Linen Mill Studios – which will give fans of the show everywhere an extra special reason to book a trip to Northern Ireland in 2022 and beyond.”

Sky News reported that before the pandemic, the series generated £250 million for the local economy and accounted for one in six tourists to Northern Ireland. The article additionally quoted Ian Beattie, an actor in the series, who described Game of Thrones as “the gift that keeps on giving” and believes that the new attraction will be a hit amongst fans.

“This has the potential to become the number one tourist attraction in Northern Ireland, but not only will they come here, they’ll see everything else that we have to offer in Northern Ireland as well,” Economy and tourism minister Gordon Lyons said in the Sky News report.

With UK relaxing its international travel regulations and eliminating the need for fully vaccinated travellers entering the region from 11 February to take any Covid tests, it looks like Northern Ireland's new attraction is a timely move to recapture the travel demand.

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