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. 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.