Northern Ireland’s Game of Thrones Studio Tour a must see for fans of HBO series: Photos

zaib055June 19, 2022

BANBRDIGE, Northern Ireland — Three years have passed since Game Of Thrones’ controversial final; however, interest in the HBO series based on fantasy novels by George RR Martin remains high.

Not only does prequel series House of the Dragon debut in August on HBO, but opening earlier this year was the Game of Thrones Studio Tour at Linen Mill Studios, which is located in Banbridge, Northern Ireland.

It’s the latter that my wife and I made a priority to visit during a recent 25th wedding anniversary trip to the Emerald Isle.

While Ireland and Northern Ireland are obviously great and everyone should visit (have a pint or three of Guinness), the unexpected but delightful highlight of the trip was the Game of Thrones Studio Tour, which was a mind-blowing experience that will turn even the casual viewer instantly into a fanboy or fangirl.

In 2012, HBO turned the former linen plant into a Game Of Thrones studio. A decade later at a cost of $54 million, the venue was transformed into a 100,000 square-foot tourist attraction.

Jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring tourist destinations not Disney-related are often hard to come by but early into the Game of Thrones Studio Tour you’ll realize you’re not in Westeros anymore.

Whether it’s picking off wights with a bow and arrow or standing in the exact spot where Littlefinger met his demise, magical experiences await all visitors.

After watching a brief Game Of Thrones hype video, a screen raises to reveal a heavily fortified steel black door, which — allowing time for your eyes to adjust — also slowly raises providing the first many more memorable moments.

That’s right, in order to enter the museum, you have to literally walk into the Wall through a chilled entranceway as if you’re coming in from the North.

What follows is the deepest dive into all things Lannister, Stark and Targaryen. It’s a nonstop behind-the-scenes look at costumes, stage designs, props and video attractions fully engulfing visitors.

For the next few hours, fans must try to keep their emotions in check coming across everything from Tyrion’s tiny shackles and Jamie Lannister’s gold hand to Arya’s trusty “needle” sword.

You’ll see the actual table where Jon Snow was revived, complete with fake hair, as well as storage shelves filled with Game Of Thrones prop detritus. A quick search reveals everything from wildfire in a jar sitting next to the bell used by actress Hannah Waddingham (”Ted Lasso) in the famous “Shame” scene with Cersei Lannister to Davos Seaworth’s severed prop fingers, which were created but never used in the show.

Oh, how about the Hodor exhibit that features the actual door — replete with wight hands reaching out — used to shoot his heartbreaking death.

The interactive aspect of the Game of Thrones Studio Tour doesn’t disappoint with visitors able to shoot arrows at the army of the dead, add your mug to the Hall of Faces and create your own sigil or seal.

Adding to the experience is the fact the museum staff are nerdy Game Of Thrones fans who not only understand the fandom but add to it with production tidbits.

After spending a couple of hours deeply entrenched in all things Game Of Thronesone leaves the massive map room into the post-Battle of King’s Landing series finale scene where the Iron Throne sits among the actual backdrop used on-screen seemingly moments after the controversial ending took place.

The goosebump-inducing exhibit, complete with a circling Drogon in the background, doesn’t disappoint.

It should be noted a current issue is getting to the Belfast-area venue, which seemingly requires a more convoluted and circuitous route than Daenerys Targaryen’s journey to the Iron Throne. Cars can’t just drive up to the location, which was one of many different studios used to film the show.

As it stands, visitors must catch a shuttle bus from a nearby strip mall. And if you’re, say, traveling from Dublin for the day, the junket requires catching a city bus to Banbridge before catching a short taxi ride to the mall. Yeah, it’s not great, but one would assume the venue will figure out the logistics for a smoother experience in the near future.

Despite the hassle, the Game of Thrones Studio Tour lived up to the hype.

Just as the Lannisters always pay their debts, so should Game Of Thrones fans looking to confirm their love for the old gods and the new by visiting Northern Ireland’s must-see tourist attraction.

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