There's a Game of Thrones festival happening soon and it looks amazing
There's a Game of Thrones festival happening soon and it looks amazing
Held in the actual location of Winterfell, you can meet the direwolves and cast members.
Winter is here.
Right now, Game of Thrones fans have a hole in their life that's bigger than the damage that the Night King did to the Wall.
If you're looking to have a real life Game of Thrones experience to help fill this void then Winterfell Festival is absolutely perfect and it's not too far away.
Given that the HBO show is filmed throughout various locations in Northern Ireland - there are 25 publicly accessible filming locations in NI - there's no better place to hold a Game of Thrones festival than Winterfell itself.
While there you can fire arrows, meet the direwolves, explore the North, talk to some cast members and geek out!
Winterfell Festival is held in the 820-acre walled demesne of Castle Ward, Co Down, Northern Ireland and it's home to some of the most iconic locations in the Seven Kingdoms.
If you fancy heading along, you'll be pleased to know that Ser Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie) and Bowen Marsh (Michael Condron) will be hosting a series of ‘walk and talks’ during the one-day event that takes place on 24 September.
Fancy hearing a few anecdotes and stories about what life is like on the set of Game of Thrones? Of course you do!
You'll also be able to meet two of the direwolves that were raised by the Stark family, Grey Wind (Robb's) and Summer (Bran's)
Tickets cost £22.50 for an adult, £10.88 for a child and £60 for a family (2 adults & 2 children between 10 - 16 years). Extra info can be found here, but we had the pleasure of doing this exact tour a few weeks ago and it's great fun.
Here's some of our favourite memories.
"The North Remembers"
To begin with, Winterfell Tours have an immersive experience that's unlike any other.
Not only will you get to see some breathtaking locations that featured in the show, but our tour guide was a featured extra in Game of Thrones.
For fans of the show, the passion, knowledge and behind the scenes stories and anecdotes from these tour guides is worthy of the admission fee alone.
There are various different touring options that you can take around the estate - choose whichever one suits you best - but one feature will give you goosebumps.
Upon arrival, you're given an exact replica of the Northern cloaks that every member of House Stark and the Night's Watch wears. Truth be told, the moment when you 'take the black' and receive your sword is a giddy thrill.
For ladies, you can also choose the regal gowns that Sansa, Catelyn and Arya would wear.
"The direwolf is the sigil of your house. They were meant to have them."
The tour begins by meeting two of the direwolves that were used in the show - Odin and Thor - who played Summer and Grey Wind.
The beautiful Northern Inuit dogs are incredibly friendly and they're not at all camera shy.
In fact, they're stars in their own right because they've featured in the show ever since that famous scene when Ned Stark finds the direwolf pups in the nearby filming location of Tullymore Forest.
You're allowed to pet them, play with them and hear some amazing stories from their very kind owners.
"There must always be a Stark in Winterfell."
The home of House Stark and the seat of power in The North, your first steps on the tour is exactly where the Starks stood to meet the Baratheons in the very first episode.
Granted, the creators have added CGI to enhance the view, but trust us, as soon as you enter the archway to the main castle, you're in Winterfell.
As you know, there were plenty of people in the courtyard to see Ned Stark's reunion with Robert Baratheon, but you can also have your own large gathering because Winterfell Tours can also accommodate 150 of your mates for a stay over.
Fancy having your own private quarters with a few flagons of ale and enough food to keep the Hound happy?
"The Lannisters send their regards."
Ok, you're now feeling like the King in The North, but you'll need to keep a close grip of your sword because a trip through Castle Ward will bring you across the locations of some memorable deaths, battles and scenes.
Heed Melisandre's warning because the night - and day! - is dark and full of terrors.
Fancy seeing Robb Stark's camp where he rallied his bannermen to take on the might of the Lannisters? Then again, maybe you want 'The Young Wolf' to 'hear me roar' because you can also see where Tywin's troops prepared for battle.
Poor Tyrion, he would have kicked ass in that battle if he wasn't knocked out by that horse!
What about the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of your favourite double acts?
Well, you can walk the exact trail that Tyrion took when he left the Eyrie as a free man. If you're looking for something more sinister, how about seeing where Jaime and Brienne encountered those dead bodies that were hanging from the tree?
All this is just building up for the gruesome finale though.
You can actually visit Walder Frey's castle that hosted The Red Wedding.
If you want to avenge The Red Wedding, we urge you to grab your sword and reclaim The North in the name of House Stark.
Truth be told, I had an absolute geekgasm while recreating various scenes from the show.
A Feast for Crows
After travelling through The North, you're going to feel exactly like The Hound did when he killed all those men for a few chickens and beers.
Don't worry though, you won't have to kill any strangers because there's plenty of food to go around. Fancy having lunch in a tent that eerily resembles the one where Daenerys and Khal Drogo used to live?
Well, the food is great and there's enough wine to even keep Cersei Lannister happy.
This is just the appetiser for what's coming next though. It's time to realise who the real King/Queen of the North is because an archery contest is on the horizon.
Nock your arrows!
Ok, the real showdown.
Are you gifted with a longbow like the sadistic Ramsay Bolton? Can you be as accurate as Ygritte when she turned Jon Snow into a human pincushion? Think you have what it takes to be a watcher on the wall and defend Castle Black from the willing invasion?
It's time to test your accuracy, skill and aim by taking on your mates in an archery challenge.
Nock! Draw! Loose!
"When dead men come hunting in the night, do you think it matters who sits the Iron Throne?"
Ok, we think you're worthy of a place on the Iron Throne. Just don't go crazy like the Mad King or become a tyrant like Joffrey!
Oh yes, you're able to sit on the most powerful seat in Westeros and rule the Seven Kingdoms.
Will you last longer than King Tommen?
Hell, Ser Pounce would have a longer reign than him!
This tour is just a tiny example of what's in store - Tourism Northern Ireland have even more incredible Game of Thrones tours, locations and adventures that you can see - but with so much on offer, there's plenty for Game of Thrones fans to experience.
Check out Millwall FC on Freestyle Kombat from this week's Total Tekkers
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