Monday 17 July saw the launch of the new series of Game of Thrones – much anticipated by the shows avid followers. For Northern Ireland, it reinforces the attraction to our wee country by the army of fans who can’t get enough of the sets and scenes where a lot of the show is filmed. Whether that is Dunluce Castle on the Bushmills Road aka ‘House of Greyjoy’ or a little jaunt around the corner to Ballintoy Harbour aka ‘Iron Islands’.
Discover Northern Ireland has recently launched a new marketing campaign to highlight the start of the new series, and to continue the ongoing intrigue and attraction to visit Northern Ireland to see these now world famous sites.
I have seen first hand how the fascination of the show is impacting on the volume of tourists arriving in Northern Ireland. I drove past the Dark Hedges a few weeks ago – I went earlier on in the morning in the hope of avoiding any crowds that may appear. I wasn’t early enough! The coach loads of people driving down the Bregagh Road (aka Dark Hedges – Kings Road), was unbelievable. The opportunity to take any photographs was nearly impossible. As one coach left another would arrive – even two! Amazing. All these people have travelled the world to see these famous trees! As some of you may know, the past winter season caused a few of the trees to be struck down. Some enterprising local businesses are using these tree trunks to create ‘Game of Thrones’ Dark Hedges merchandise.
The launch of the new series, also saw the launch of a brand new Tapestry at the Ulster Museum in Belfast. A tapestry akin to that of the Bayeaux tapestry in France, but created with modern machinery using a lot of red thread (there is a lot of blood in Game of Thrones!) by Thomas Ferguson of Banbridge. The tapestry exhibition is now open and a must for any Game of Thrones enthusiast. Of course, there is the Game of Thrones Passport to work your way through as well – so it would appear, that a few weeks stay is in order to cover all the film locations, door locations and other fascinating artefacts across Northern Ireland.