The official visitor website for Northern Ireland tourism, Discovernorthernireland.com, is promoting the province’s involvement in the hit TV series, Game of Thrones.
In addition to filming at Belfast’s Titanic studios, several of the US medieval fantasy drama’s striking locations are in Northern Ireland, and the tourism authorities are keen to use them to attract the army of fans that the saga has recruited over its first three seasons, with a fourth premiering today.
Here are some of the locations recommended for inclusion on the must see itinerary of all Game of Thrones aficionados.
Cushenden Caves, Co. Antrim., which featured as The Stormlands in series 2, episode 4. The Caves were formed over a period of 400 million years of extreme weather conditions in Ireland. They can be found just beyond the beautiful coastal village and can be accessed by foot next to Cave House.
Castle Ward, Co. Down, which featured as Winterfell in episodes 1 and 2 of the first season, is situated in a stunning location overlooking Strangford Lough. The website says, ‘this house has both Gothic and Classical styles of architectural treatment, internally and externally. Inside the beautiful 820 acre walled demesne you will find an exotic sunken garden and paths that wind their way through woodland and suddenly open onto the quiet shores of the Lough.’
Larrybane, Carrick-a-Rede, Co. Antrim, which featured as The Stormlands in several episodes of season 3. Discovernorthernireland says, ‘Located along the stunning North Coast close to Carrick-Rede Rope Bridge, this area is exceptional in is natural beauty. Larrybane headland, which once stretched out towards Sheep Island and had a promontory fort on the top dating to 800AD, had large caves underneath which once served as home to boat builders and a safe resting place from winter storms. Despite having been quarried in the 1950s this quarry is still worth a visit for its exceptional views.’
Fans can also visit Ballintoy Harbour, Co. Antrim, which featured as the Iron Islands in season 2; Dark Hedges, Co. Antrim, whose avenue of beech trees featured as the King’s Road north of King’s Landing in season 2, episode 1; and Inch Abbey on the River Quoile, Co. Down, which featured as The Riverlands in season 1, episode 9.
Several other sites are also visited by Nutts Tours and McComb’s Travel in their respective Game of Thrones tours, with more details available on Discovernorthernireland.com.