The sixth season of Game of Thrones is in full swing after what felt like an interminable wait. While we are not even at the half-way mark, we're already psyching ourselves up for the gaping hole it will leave in our lives when it finishes... and of course the counselling we will all need after whatever latest shocking twist George R.R Martin has in store for us.
One of the great things about Game of Thrones is that a significant chunk of it is filmed on our own little island here. Just a couple hours up the road on the train lies the castle of Winterfell, the Iron Islands and so much more, all of which you can visit and pretend you too are a resident of the Seven Kingdoms. Or you know, just take pictures, whatever you're into.
There are plenty of Game of Thrones tour options to choose from, but make sure you get one that stops by the Starks gaff - yes we know crazy Ramsay is in there now, but the Starks will rule the North again! Not only can you take a look around the castle, there is also a archery range in the courtyard you can test your skills on, while you will also meet Winterfell's Master-at-Arms AND get to dress up in character costumes. Essentially, you can let your geek flag fly high and proud.
2. A Game of Thrones Banquet
If dressing up and shooting arrows aren't enough for you, you can even attend a Winterfell banquet, akin to what the Starks had when King Robert and his squad rocked up to the castle (which kicked all of the madness off). Upon arrival, you will be greeted by the Maester and then shown to your banqueting table by the 'ladies of Winterfell'. There's open fire pits, traditional music, and a hog roast with craft beer you can enjoy from Winterfell castles brewery. Let's just hope nobody starts playing the Lannister's song...
3. The Dark Hedges
This one is a must whether you're a Game of Thrones fan or not, as The Dark Hedges has to be one of the prettiest roads in the country. The stunning avenue of beech trees is used as the location for the famous Kingsroad on the show. It even made headlines last year when some not-so-bright spark decided to put road markings on it. Never fear though, they were swiftly removed. The road has been shown multiple times on Game of Thrones, including episode one of season two when Arya Stark escaped King’s Landing with Gendry. There's even said to be a resident ghost on the road, according to locals. So now.
4. Iron Islands
Up north of County Antrim you can head to the home of the Ironborn, and where Theon (aka Reek) hails from. The picturesque port town of Ballintoy harbour was transformed into the rugged islands which were first in the show in season two when Theon returned home and had that ever so awkward horseback ride with his sister Yara.
5. Game of Thrones Doors
A new addition to the show's tourism scene in northern Ireland is the Game of Thrones doors, the brainchild of Tourism Ireland. They salvaged two trees that fell early in the winter on the Dark Hedges road and have had them transformed into ten ornately carved wooden doors. A door will be unveiled every week of season six in a new location, with each depicting scenes and references from each episode. Once this season is over, the doors will form a trail around some of the most well-known of the show's locations, which will begin at the first door at The Cuan Pub, Restaurant and B&B in Strangford, County Down, near the Winterfell filming locations.
— Tourism Ireland (@TourismIreland) May 2, 2016
So now our fellow Game of Thrones fans, get booking your tickets to Belfast quick-smart. Winter is coming after all.
You can visit all of these tours & attractions by jumping on the all new Enterprise train from Dublin to Belfast. Working or relaxing, it’s time well spent, in luxury.