'Game of Thrones' Studio Tour opens in Northern Ireland

The $54.3m visitor attraction features replicas of key settings from the show and actual film sets

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Filming for Game of Thrones may have been completed in 2018, but the spirit of the show is thriving in Northern Ireland, where parts of the scenic countryside served as the setting for much of Winterfell.

This week, a Game of Thrones studio tour is opening to the public on Friday, bringing the magic of the fantasy series back to life for fans.

Located in Banbridge, County Down, which is a 30-minute drive south of Belfast, the £40 million ($54.3m) visitor attraction features replicas of key settings from the show, including Dragonstone castle and the Chamber of the Painted Table, the main hall inside Dragonstone.

There are actual film sets to be explored too, including the Great Hall at Winterfell, as well as costumes, body-double dummies and interactive experiences.

“Northern Ireland is the home of [Game of] Thrones,” said Claire Moles, head of marketing for the studio tour to The Independent. “It happened right here. This is where the story really began … where over a third of all the Northern Ireland Game of Thrones filming took place.”

It is hoped that the studio tour will attract tourists to Northern Ireland, where tourism has struggled to pick up amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Natalia Tena, who plays the wildling Osha in the popular series, at the opening of the new 'Game of Thrones' Studio Tour at Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, Northern Ireland. Getty Images

Northern Irish actor Ian Beattie, who played Ser Meryn Trant, visited the attraction ahead of its opening, and described Game of Thrones as "the gift that keeps on giving."

"HBO was the best thing that ever happened to this province," he said. "When this pandemic finally ends, this is going to be such an incredible attraction for the fans."

Natalia Tena, who played the wildling Osha in Game of Thrones and Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter films, visited ahead of the launch and felt emotional returning to the sets and locations.

"When I got in last night, I kind of nearly cried," she told Sky News. "I felt really nostalgic landing into Belfast, coming out of the airport. "It was just such a big part of my life, coming here and working on the show."

Emma D’arcy and Matt Smith in a still shared from the 'House of the Dragon' set. Photo: HBO

The Game of Thrones story has not yet concluded. This year, HBO is releasing House of the Dragon, a prequel to the original series that is set about 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. It tells the story of House Targaryen and a civil war that takes place within the family.

The show stars Paddy Considine (The Outsider), Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One), Emma D’Arcy (Truth Seekers), Matt Smith (The Crown, Doctor Who), Steve Toussaint (It’s a Sin, Doctor Who), Eve Best (Nurse Jackie, The King’s Speech), Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, The Amazing Spider-Man) and Sonoya Mizuno (Ex Machina, Crazy Rich Asians).

A release date for the series has not yet been announced.

Updated: February 04, 2022, 10:20 AM
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