Winter may soon be on its way out the door here in the US, but just outside of Belfast in Northern Ireland, it’s always coming.
In the hills of Downpatrick, where the famed Winterfell Castle of the hit show “Game of Thrones” resides, it isn’t uncommon to walk with sword unsheathed. How else could one easily defend against the White Walkers that may be afoot? Winterfell Castle & Demesne, its beautiful surrounding landscapes and far-reaching views across the lough, was used extensively for the hit TV show “Game of Thrones.” Groups can hop onto “Westeros Cruisers” for guided cycling tours of more than 20 filming locations, or watch the castle, along with Walder Freys Castle and Dreadfort Castle drift by like a dream during a boat tour. And as exciting as these experiences are, Andrew Porter, director of Winterfell Tours says something else is trending big at the moment.
“The main product that is trending with incentive groups is our Medieval Banquet Nights. Groups come to us from as far away as the West Coast of North America, India and Singapore, and interestingly, most haven’t watched the show. But they love to get their picture taken whilst wearing costumes with the castle in background and the bragging rights that come with that.”
Bragging rights are plentiful. Groups can don Stark family character costumes, bows and arrows to fight off White Walkers on the exact same spot where Jon Snow and Robb Stark taught Bran the art of archery. They can even interact with the real direwolf dogs live or reenact and film scenes of the show as a unique team building experience. And even though “the night is dark and full of terrors,” many choose to top all of this off with overnight stays in glamping pods deep in the Winterfell forest.
“Incentive groups love the ‘time warp’ when they arrive to Winterfell, its sprawling 15th century buildings and ancient walls,” Porter adds. “They ‘get it’ right away why HBO chose this location to film the iconic Winterfell Castle in the show.”