The Best Game of Thrones Tour – Belfast, Northern Ireland
The Ultimate Game of Thrones Tour
To start our tour, Gerard provided the costumes and props for those wishing to get into character and to make the adventure more authentic and fun. He also brought his Game of Thrones series books that allowed us to see the scenes from the show juxtaposed to the actual locations, making the book and the locations themselves come alive.
Before we hit the countryside, we stopped by the studios in Belfast where much of the “green screen” work is done. Here, the actors perform choreographed scenes against a green background. Later, the green background is replaced with a separately videoed background and then superimposed for the scene. Also at the studio, the directors organize their scenes and shoots which take them to the on-site locations in the countryside. So with that information, off we went.
The producers of the show leave markings on the road to instruct crews where to set up for various scenes. For those in the know, like Gerard, these “secret” markings can lead to interesting conversations with locals who rent their property for filming, or their neighbors. In this case, Gerard took us down a dirt road that led to a few houses and open fields. We met and spoke with the homeowner to learn that the adjoining field was used to film the hanging of one of the characters (no spoilers). The crew built a building and scaffolding for the scene. He had pictures of the wooden structure, which he shared with us. Before departing, Gerard gave the man’s son a trinket from our visit and shared his Game of Thrones costumes for picture taking.
The lesser known locations are certainly of interest, especially the rural buildings and distinctive landscapes, but the main scenes of the show, like The Dark Hedges (known as The King’s Road in the show), are both visually beautiful and inspiring. They are great examples of the natural beauty of the countryside and provide a glimpse in to the work of developing the TV show.
The King’s Road
Compare our pictures of The Dark Hedges to the scene from the show below. The blacktop road is replaced with dirt and sod. This can be created by digital imaging. These old trees are quite fragile. Earlier this year two more trees fell in a winter storm that hit Ireland. Thus, the reason for some large gaps between trees.
The Cushendun Caves
Season two provided one of the most memorable scenes in the show. Melisandra gives birth to the shadow baby after being brought ashore by Davos. This scene was filmed at Cushendun Caves in County Antrim. The rocky shoreline with a pebbled beach provide the backdrop for this scene. If you are not taken by the show, you will certainly be taken by the scenery. You might also be surprised to learn that the cave leads to a private residence. Enter the cave and deep inside you’ll find a locked gate, but don’t bother the owner. We actually know someone who is related to the owner…small world.
The rocky beaches of Northern Ireland remind me of the coast of Maine, and one of the most distinctive locations is Murlough Bay. Situated along the Antrim Coast, you’ll find long range views of the ocean, combined with the relics and small towns along the way. You’ll also encounter Ballintoy Harbor nearby. The cave, the shoreline, and of course the harbor itself are the backdrop to many scenes in the show. We found David Morgan’s name tag at this site. He’s a well-known camerman that has been involved with the series since 2013.
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