With its rugged fields, castle ruins and sheer coastal views, there is a natural air of drama ingrained in the landscape of Northern Ireland.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise, therefore, that the country was selected as a major location for HBO’s blockbuster television series, Game of Thrones.
First aired in 2011, the fantasy drama is this year heading into its seventh season. It follows various families and factions as they battle it out for the ‘Iron Throne’ and ultimate rule of the fictional Seven Kingdoms. The kingdoms are characterised by starkly contrasting physical environments, and the show’s makers had to set their sights far and wide to find unique locations across Iceland, Morocco, Croatia, Spain, and most prominently, Northern Ireland. In the video below, go behind the scenes of a single day of filming across Northern Ireland and other locations.
The programme’s producers were drawn to Northern Ireland’s raw and varied natural beauty, allowing for filming in markedly different locations. Led by Supervising Location Manager Robbie Boake, members of the Game of Thrones locations team scouted for sites ranging from the sun-soaked peninsula of Dorne to the northerly castle of Winterfell. In the video below, watch as Boake, along with other members of the cast and crew, discuss their experience of filming in Northern Ireland during Season 2.
Once a location has been chosen, the crew goes to work on transposing it into the Game of Thrones universe. This requires careful work from across the construction, production, locations and armoury departments. By combining the natural landscape with special set designs, the team creates an authentic and atmospheric backdrop to bring the characters and their world to life. In the video below, the crew discuss the thought processes behind the location they selected for Renley’s Camp in Season 2 and give an insight into how the set was created.
The search for new locations often takes the crew well off the beaten track, and the unpredictable weather conditions that are part and parcel of life in the region demand patience from all those involved. In the video below, members of the cast, production and location teams talk about some of the challenges and joys of filming in Belfast for Season 4.
Setting the scene
One of the most talked-about scenes of the Game of Thrones series is the so-called ‘Battle of the Bastards’ at Winterfell in Season 6. In a report published by Northern Ireland Screen, the company outlines the extensive preparations required for this single episode. For the battle alone, over 500 extras, 70 horses, and 25 stuntmen were involved over an astonishing 25 days of filming. In the video at the bottom of this page, learn more about the making of this iconic scene.