Game of Thrones is the most successful fantasy TV show ever and with 5 seasons already in the bag and a 6th starting in April 2016, it continues to generate a lot of publicity and tourism for Northern Ireland.
This weekend at my stall in St George’s Market, I was packaging Xmas cards in the afternoon just as the crowds started to ease, and I look up to a customer. He’s just browsing my designs, and I suddenly recognise him as Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) from Game Of Thrones.
Casually I just ask him if actors like him can go out in public without getting mobbed? That raises a smile and Nikolaj responds that it depends where he is. He’d just been to the City Hall Continental Market and had to leave.
Surely filming is due to finish soon?
He looks happy to say that in two weeks time, filming for Season 6 of Game of Thrones will finish, just in time for Christmas.
The next thing I know, other traders have spotted him and the frenzy begins for selfies. Picture this, two traders frantically running around St George’s in the hunt for a handsome actor on his day off. One of them caught up with him and said she’d been running around like a ninja trying to find him.
There was definitely a frenzy of excitement!!
Aside from the many celebrities who regularly visit us at the market, isn’t it great to see GoT generally creating such a buzz in Northern Ireland. Have you been to the Dark Hedges lately? It’s now a hugely popular tourist attraction because of its appearance in Season One. I’ve spoken to a few tourists who have visited the Dark Hedges and other GoT locations, and they were in awe of our countryside and ready made film sets.
Of course a large chunk of indoor filming takes place in the Titanic Studios in Belfast (don’t tell anyone but I’ve sat on the Throne on an exclusive tour of the studios), and out on various set locations around Northern Ireland. With stunning locations such as Ballintoy Harbour, the Mourne Mountains, Clandeboye Estate, Shane’s Castle and much more, beautiful NI is reaching the world.
What used to be the shipyard paint halls has been transformed into movie central in Belfast. It’s where the City of Ember was filmed and Your Highness, and of course Game of Thrones for the last 7 or so years.
The local economy in Northern Ireland has benefitted phenomenally from the worldwide interest in filming here. The show has opened up a whole new area of tourism with GoT fans heading out on the various tours to visit locations featured on their favourite fantasy TV.
Local actors, fashion and set designers, van hire and bus companies, tour operators and many many more people have benefitted from both the huge HBO production budget and the increased tourism.
With Season 6 Game of Thrones filming in Belfast and around N. Ireland finishing just before Christmas, the buzz for the April 2016 premiere of the season is already building, bringing more publicity for our wee country!
Did you know there is a GoT production blog? Have a look here >