It has been quite some time since Game of Thrones finished its run on TV but the fever of ice and fire still grips a large part of the fan-base across the world. More so because our beloved Westeros will surely return in different avatars; the most notable being House of The Dragon, a prequel based on George R.R. Martin’s Fire And Blood. The latest among such offerings is going to be a Game of Thrones Studio Tour. Set in Northern Ireland, it was teased for a long time but we finally have some concrete details to hold onto regarding its opening and operation.
A new report by The Irish News has brought to light a number of exciting developments. Game of Thrones was shot extensively in different parts of Northern Ireland. Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge was one of the prime locations for filming and production. The site of Linen Mill Studios is getting converted into a 110,000 square-foot area; set to provide a strong insight into the life of arguably the most popular show in the world. The studio tour will open in the fall (autumn) of 2020; and preparations are underway to make it as surprising and convenient as possible.
The studio tour is located about 3.5 km east of the town center; and the organizers don’t wish the visitors to drive straight to the site. Thus, a large park and ride facility will be available near the Boulevard retail complex in Banbridge for nearly 350 vehicles.
Regarding its operation, the tour will be open 12 hours per day, seven days a week; and is expected to host 600,000 visitors annually through ten years of operation. An estimate suggests that one-fourth of these visitors will be people from Northern Ireland; while the rest will consist of tourists from across the border and all over the world. This huge influx of tourism will be responsible for a sizable boost in the economy as the spending by the tourists is supposed to reach close to £400m (396.2 million to be precise) by 2030. In terms of investment, the amount being spent stands at £23.7m; and apart from revenue, the studio tour will also employ about 194 people.
John Hogg and Company, a Northern Ireland business group, owns the Linen Mill Studios. It was once home to Ballievey Bleaching Company which played a big role in defining the Irish linen industry. The mill was operated by Ulsters Weavers until Game of Thrones moved in with its production in 2011.
Partnering with HBO Licensing & Retail, Linen Mill Studios will feature the Game of Thrones studio tour; “Showcasing authentic sets, costumes and props from all seasons of the hit series, this engaging tour will allow fans to truly step inside the world of Westeros and beyond,” the official website quotes. The great hall of Winterfell will serve as the centerpiece for the tour; here the visitors will be able to engage in a lot of digitally interactive activities. There will also be a restaurant and ‘back-lot café’, a planned replica for the studio-catering experience.
The King’s Landing set based at Titanic Studios in Belfast still remains a curiosity. After being razed to the ground by the mother-son duo of Daenerys-Drogon in season 8, the set has continued to stand in its demolished glory. The HBO officials have hinted at possibilities of opening it up for visitors but nothing helpful has come our way. It’s a waiting game right now as there is the prequel for the Targaryen dynasty which will feature King’s Landing in its Aegon the Conqueror days. Thus, it might just come handy.
So, the news is finally out. Many of us have been closely following the developments since the Game of Thrones legacy project was first announced back in 2018. The fans will get an opportunity to walk on the locations where they saw jaw-dropping action being performed. It will hopefully be worth every drop of blood and sweat that stained the drama from the land of the seven kingdoms. Tell us your views in the comments section below.