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August 18, 2017updated 08 Sep 2017 11:57am

A Game Of Thrones-themed Winterfell Festival is coming to the UK

By Jack Rear

If you’re a Game Of Thrones fan then chances are you’re probably already preparing yourself for the inevitable withdrawal symptoms. The end of the season is coming, after all.

Still, just because the television series is only on for another week doesn’t mean your Game Of Thrones obsession needs to stop.

For UK fans of the show, it couldn’t be easier to check out some of the incredible filming locations used in the series. Many of Game Of Thrones most iconic locations are actually within the UK.

Of course, everyone knows about the overseas filming. Scenes Beyond-The-Wall were filmed in Iceland, Dorne was filmed in Spain, Dubrovnik in Croatia stands in for King’s Landing, and Morocco stood in many scenes in Essos.

However, what you may not realise is that most of the scenes set in The North and The Riverlands were filmed in Northern Ireland.

  • Tollymore Forest Park in County Down stood in for the Haunted Forest north of the Wall, as well as various Northern forests.
  • The Dark Hedges in County Antrim became the Kingsroad.
  • Shillanavogy Valley, beneath Slemish Mountain was the home of the grasslands that the Dothraki ride through.
  • Titanic Studios in Belfast is where many of the show’s major sets including the Throne Room and the Sept of Baelor live.

There are plenty more but those are some of the most memorable ones!

But if there’s one castle that most fans will want to visit more than any other it’s got to be Winterfell.

The ancestral home of House Stark, Winterfell was the first castle on the show. Since then Winterfell has been captured by the Greyjoys then taken by the Boltons before finally being recaptured by the Starks! Phew!

Thankfully, for the real castle behind Winterfell, Castle Ward in County Down, life is a lot less stressful. The castle is now a National Trust property and it’s holding a festival especially for Game Of Thrones fans.

Winterfell Festival

Winterfell Festival will take place on the 24th September, starting at 11am.

At midday, a ‘King’s Procession’ will arrive, just like King Robert Baratheon did in the TV series. A historical re-enactment troupe, Irish Arms, will be performing some medieval jousting shows on horseback for visitors all day.

In addition, sword sparring, archery demonstrations, jesters, and falcon flights will take place. There’s even going to be a hog-roast and local cider on offer to help you really live your Game Of Thrones fantasy.

Among the collection of medieval themed swords, you’ll be able to find real-life armourer-turned-actor Boyd Rankin, who played Mikken, the blacksmith who made Arya’s sword Needle on the show. Rankin actually forged some of the actual weapons featured on the show, and he’ll be talking about how he did so.

And it wouldn’t be Winterfell without some direwolves, would it? As a pair of special guests, two of the dogs who played the Direwolves in Season One, will also be at the festival.

Other Game Of Thrones sights

The tower and courtyard of Winterfell won’t be the only attractions on show. You can also join the ‘Winterfell Tours’ to visit Audley’s Castle just down the road. This castle is the location of Robb Stark’s encampment in Season One. He also held here Jaime Lannister in Season Two.

You can also have your photo taken on a green screen in the iconic courtyard where all the Starks stood to greet King Robert.

An interactive show and a workshop on shadow puppets, all based on scenes from Game Of Thrones will be on display too.

Finally, you can walk down the ‘Kingsroad’ to the ‘Inn At The Crossroads’ where Footsteps, a theatrical troupe, will be performing selected scenes from A Song Of Ice And Fire. 

How to get tickets

If you want to go you can get tickets from the official National Trust website, but be warned – they’ll probably sell out pretty quickly. It costs £22.50 for adults, £10.82 for 10-16 year olds, and it’s free for under-10s!

All in all, it sounds like a pretty fun day to us!

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