‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 – The Final ‘Beautiful Death’ Poster Series By Robert Ball

And now our watch has ended.

After eight enthralling seasons, Game of Thrones finally came to an end in May 2019 and, needless to say, deaths of key characters came fast and furious in the short but eventful 6-episode final season.

It’s been a few weeks since the series finale, but UK-based artist Robert Ball eventually revealed the final Beautiful Death poster, the last of his incredible 74-poster series featuring the show’s iconic deaths that started way back in 2011 when Game of Thrones first premiered on HBO.

Let’s take a look at the final poster from “The Iron Throne”:

Beautiful Death GOT S806: “You are my Queen. Now and Always.”

The poster features two key deaths – that of the Iron Throne, under the fiery breath of Drogon, and that of one of the series’ most beloved characters, Daenerys Targaryen, at the hand of her lover/nephew/rival heir to the Iron Throne, Jon Snow. The key phrase is Jon’s last words to Dany before he fatally buries the knife into her heart, becoming a Queenslayer and Kinslayer in one fell swoop.

It’s amazing how Ball depicts Daenerys dying along with the burning Iron Throne, complete with Jon’s knife sticking at where her heart would be. As the Throne is engulfed in rubble made up of “1000 swords of Ageon’s enemies”, the red trail also outlines the bloody journey that the dragon queen took to get to the Red Keep including the deaths of her brother Viserys, the Sons of the Harpy, the Dothraki khals, slavemasters’ ships, etc. The look is meant to be gothic but it’s probably a coincidence that red and black also just happened to be the colors of House Targaryen.

Ultimately, as Ball informs makinggameofthrones.com, the poster is about “how power corrupts all” and is “an encapsulation of the whole series”.

Read also:
*‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 12 Most Memorable Moments from the Final Season
*‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8 Episode 6: The 20 Best Quotes From the Series Finale, “The Iron Throne”

And now that his watch has ended, here’s Robert Ball’s 5 other Beautiful Death posters from the final season of Game of Thrones.

Beautiful Death GOT S805: “Hello, Big Brother.”

Although I was somehow glad that the artist didn’t opt to focus on Daenery’s horrific heel turn of causing thousands of deaths in King’s Landing after the city’s surrender in “The Bells”, I felt the deaths of key main characters, Cersei and Jaime Lannister, should have garnered more importance over the deaths of the Clegane brothers in the episode. Cleganebowl was fascinating but a “Nothing Else Matters” poster featuring the Lannister siblings as the Red Keep and the city collapse around them could have been more poignant.

Read also:
*‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 15 Best Quotes from Episode 5, “The Bells”

Beautiful Death GOT S804: “Dracarys.”

The Mother of Dragons may have popularised the High Valyrian term which means “dragonfire”, but fans will arguably remember Missandei’s last word much more now as it is the final straw that “awoke the dragon” that is Daenerys Stormborn. After the deaths of Ser Jorah Mormont, thousands of her Dothraki and Unsullied troops, and Rhaegal, seeing her best friend killed as well in a short period of just two episodes, you just know that fire and blood is coming to King’s Landing in the very next episode, courtesy of the dragon queen and her WMD that is Drogon. The poster shows Missandei’s last moment before she is executed by the Mountain as her dream to retire to the beaches of Naath with lover Grey Worm vaporises into thin air.

Read also:
*‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 20 Best Quotes From Episode 4, ‘The Last of the Starks’

Beautiful Death GOT S803: “Not Today.”

Melisandre, Theon Greyjoy, Ser Jorah Mormont, Ser Beric Dondarrion, Lyanna Mormont, Dolorous Edd, Qhono, and last but by no means least, the Night King. There were key deaths aplenty in “The Long Night” and Ball decided to feature all of them instead of just one for the Episode 3 poster. It was never a doubt, but after Arya Stark’s epic slaying of The Night King, “Not Today” will definitely go down as one of the most iconic quotes from Game of Thrones, two words that we could all say to the god of death when the critical moment arrives (if need be).

Read also:
*’Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 12 Best Quotes From Episode 3, “The Long Night”

Beautiful Death GOT S802: “…But at least We Die Together.”

“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” was a rare Game of Thrones episode where there was not a single death to report. Easily the best episode of Season 8–beautifully written by Bryan Cogman–the best scenes came from the fireplace ensemble in Winterfell’s Great Hall where Tyrion and Jaime Lannister, (pre Ser) Brienne of Tarth, Podrick, Ser Davos Seaworth and Tormund Giantsbane gathered to prepare for the upcoming war against the undead in which survival is very unlikely. Surprisingly, despite the quote by Tormund (which he uttered in the war council meeting and not in this scene), all six characters survived the Great War. Turn the poster upside down to see four of them drawn onto the floor…

Read also:
*‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8: The 15 Best Quotes from Episode 2, “A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms”

Beautiful Death GOT S801: “It’s a Message from the Night King.”

The first Beautiful Death poster of Season 8 sees Ser Beric Dondarrion and Tormund Giantsbane flanking Ned Umber as the poor lad resurrected as a wight while pinned onto a wall with a spiral of human limbs at Last Hearth. The Night King’s message is that he and his minions are on the way to Winterfell. The more worrying message though is how Ball bathes Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen’s romantic moment in a bloody waterfall, with Jon’s cape drawn to look like a dragon’s wing, indicating the sledgehammer revelation of his true parentage that is to come by the episode’s end.

Read also:
*‘Game Of Thrones’: The 12 Best Quotes From The Season 8 Premiere
*The 20 Best Tyrion Lannister Quotes from ‘Game of Thrones’ Seasons One to Eight

Robert Ball’s complete Game of Thrones’ Beautiful Death series can be seen at https://beautifuldeath.com/

‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8 Episode 1’s ‘Beautiful Death’ Poster Features The Night King’s Message

It was when I attended the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience featuring Ramin Djawadi in Belfast last year that I discovered the Beautiful Death art series by artist Robert Ball. I wanted a memento from the concert and the concert merchandise that caught my eye was a colorful poster featuring a dozen of artistic depictions of memorable death scenes from the first seven seasons of the HBO blockbuster series.

From the Business Insider, I learnt that the London-based illustrator has been producing an artwork after every GOT episode where there’s a key death sequence since Season 1, with HBO providing him via e-mail with the “quote from the week”, as well as the subject for the week’s “beautiful death”.

(WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR GAME OF THRONES’ SEASON 8 EPISODE 1 IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCH THE EPISODE.)

With the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones kicking off this month, Ball has released his first Beautiful Death poster which features the horrific death of young Ned Umber at Last Hearth in the premiere episode. You can see the beautifully illustrated poster below:

“It’s A Message From the Night King…”

The quote is uttered by Ser Beric Dondarrion after he set the dead Umber lad on fire when he resurrected as a wight while pinned onto a wall with a spiral of human limbs. Hence you can see the six-time born-again lightning lord (left centre) and Tormund Giantsbane (right centre) flanking the image of Ned Umber as it was them who found the young lord at Last Hearth. The Night King has his icy hands around the boy to show how he was used as a tool to relay a message to the living.

“Nothing Lasts…” – Varys

What’s worrying is that Ball has also drawn in Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen’s romantic moment by the waterfall except that the couple is now bathed in bloody waters. That’s not good news. The cool bit is how Ball made Jon’s cape to look like the wing of a dragon indicating the sledgehammer revelation that is to come by the end of the episode.

The “foreshadowing” is in line with another theme from the Season 8 premiere episode which implies that “youth and happiness, and Jon and Daenerys’ brief moments together, will ‘never last’”, as Ball informed makingameofthrones.com. (Sob.)

Read also:
* 8 ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About Daenerys Targaryen’s Endgame
* ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 20 Best Quotes From Episode 4, ‘The Last of the Starks’
*’Game of Thrones’ Season 8: The 12 Best Quotes From Episode 3, “The Long Night”
* ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8: The 15 Best Quotes from Episode 2, “A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms”
* ‘Game Of Thrones’: The 12 Best Quotes From The Season 8 Premiere
‘Game of Thrones’: Who’s Likely to Die in Season 8?

Iconic Beautiful Death Posters – Seasons 1-7

As Season 8’s well-scripted Episode 2, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, is one of the rare GOT episodes not to feature a single death, it’s safe to say there won’t be a Beautiful Death artpiece released this week.
(UPDATE: I was wrong, there was a poster and a good one too which you can see at this link here.)

So, let’s take a look back at the most iconic Beautiful Death moments from the past seven seasons by Robert Ball:

The Execution of Ned Stark
Season 1 Episode 9

The Battle of Blackwater
Season 2 Episode 9

The Red Wedding
Season 3 Episode 9

Ygritte’s Demise at Castle Black
Season 4 Episode 9

Massacre at Hardhome
Season 5 Episode 8

Destruction of the Sept of Baelor
Season 6 Episode 10

Loot Train Attack
Season 7 Episode 4

Game of Thrones Season 8 is on Sundays (USA) / Mondays (Asia) till May 19, with a special two-hour documentary, Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, on May 26.

Read also:
7 ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About the Crypts of Winterfell
* ‘Game of Thrones’: Eight Things You Should Know About The Battle of Winterfell in Season Eight
* ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: Why Jon Snow May Use Greatsword Dawn to Slay the Night King

April 2019 TV & Movie Highlights: From ‘Game Of Thrones’ To ‘Killing Eve’, Avengers to Anime

Being a longtime TV and movie fan, I don’t recall if ever there was a single month in a single year that touts TV returns and new film releases that have my interests at heart as much as this coming April.

From the final season of the fantasy epic series Game of Thrones, to the brilliant TV spy thriller Killing Eve, to cool anime productions from Japan, here are five highlights to look out for come April 2019:

1. Killing Eve Season 2

Will Jodie Comer’s Villanelle be hell-bent on killing Eve in Killing Eve Season 2? [Credit: BBC America]

Voted and awarded as one of 2018’s best TV shows by many big-name media outlets, Killing Eve is one of the most ingenious series to be seen on TV for quite some time. Focusing on an intriguing cat-and-mouse chase between jaded M16 agent Eve Polastri and psychopathic assassin Villanelle, performances are outstanding with Sandra Oh rightfully sweeping most of the best TV drama actress awards, although co-star Jodie Comer deserved the accolades just as much. Season 2 promises to be just as sharp and intense (and funny) as it was for Season 1, even though show-runner Phoebe Waller-Bridge did not do any writing (but a good writer friend of hers did). Can’t wait!
Killing Eve Season 2 premieres on Sunday, April 7, BBC America.

Read also:
* ‘Killing Eve’ Season 2: What to Expect When the Acclaimed Psycho Thriller Returns
* Five Behind-The-Scene Things You Should Know About ‘Killing Eve’

2. Game Of Thrones Season 8

Will it be a bittersweet victory for Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in Game of Thrones‘ final season? [Credit: HBO]

Winter seriously took a long time in coming if you are a Game of Thrones fan. With an almost 18-month gap between Season 7 and its upcoming final season, it’s arguably the second longest hiatus period in TV history (The Sopranos holds the record if I’m not mistaken; and not counting series reboots.) But David Benioff and Dan Weiss promised that the wait will be worth it, with each of the six episodes almost feature-length and with big battles galore. What most fans care about though is who dies, who lives, and most importantly, who gets to sit on the Iron Throne. George RR Martin says it will be a “bittersweet victory”, but victory for whom? The Night King? Queen Cersei? Brrrr, the thought of it.
Game of Thrones’ Season 8 premieres on Sunday, April 14, HBO.

Read also:
* 8 ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About Daenerys Targaryen’s Endgame
*  ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About the Crypts of Winterfell
* ‘Game of Thrones’: Who’s Likely to Die in Season 8?
‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8: Why Jon Snow May Use Greatsword Dawn to Slay the Night King

3. Okko’s Inn

If you are a Studio Ghibli fan like me, you’ll be glad to know that animators who have left the famed Hayao Miyazaki studio are doing their part to produce adorable Studio-Ghibli-like films for film lovers to enjoy. This year, Kitaro Kosaka, a key animator on many of Studio Ghibli’s box office hits, brings us Okko’s Inn, a story of a young girl who, while training to be the junior innkeeper of her grandma’s traditional Japanese inn, discovers that she can see the spirits that live in the building. The supernatural beings have to be put on the back-burner however as a string of guests arrive who will test Okko’s mantle to be a gracious host. Will she prevail? We bet our Totoro stuffed toys that she will!
Okko’s Inn opens in selected U.S. theaters on Monday, April 22, 2019.

Read also:
* 6 Great Fantasy Films That Studio Ponoc’s ‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ Will Lovingly Remind You Of
* Why J.J. Abrams’ ‘Your Name’ Adaptation Might Not Be Such a Great Idea
* 5 Things We Want to See in Studio Ghibli’s Theme Park in 2022
* Studio Ghibli Sees First East-west Collaboration in the Wordless Wonder ‘The Red Turtle’

4. Avengers: Endgame

Half of the universe, including many of our heroes, vaporized into thin air by super villain Thanos at the end of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. Can the remaining Avengers—Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, et al —do damage control? Or can they do the impossible and turn back time to before the Mad Titan snapped his fingers? Either way, Endgame marks the end of the Infinity Stones story arc in the MCU. And I’m guessing that most of our heroes who we think have bite the dust will make it back alive considering—SPOILER—young Peter Parker, to name but one, will be back for more adventures in Spider-Man: Far from Home (23rd MCU film due out July 2019), which reportedly takes place after events in Endgame…
Avengers: Endgame is in U.S. theaters from Thursday, April 26, 2019.

Read also:
* Hammer Time! Who Keeps Marvel Actors Safe Behind the Scenes of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’?

5. Attack On Titan Season 3 Part II

Based on the best-selling Japanese manga, Attack on Titan is one of the most exciting anime series in recent times thanks to its captivating animation style, intriguing plot-lines and gripping action. Story tells of a remnant of humanity who lives behind walled cities to protect themselves against giant humanoid creatures that eat humans. By Season 3, the Survey Corps, led by their charismatic captain, Levi Ackerman, has discovered that the humanoids are actually created by the ruling royal family to keep citizens in check. Part 1 sees the Corps including Eren Yeager—the only Titan helping to protect humanity—tackling these human enemies; while Part II will see them take on former comrades Reiner Braun (Armored Titan) and Bertholdt Hoover (Colossal Titan), and their “chief”, the Beast Titan, who may have a shocking secret to reveal…
Attack on Titan Season 3 returns Sunday, April 29, 2019, various anime channels.

Read also:
* ‘Attack on Titan’ Season 3: Humans Are the New Threat

Northern Ireland: ‘Game of Thrones’ Locations To Visit North Of Belfast

Dark Hedges_MusingsontheM49

The Dark Hedges a.k.a. The Kingsroad [Credit: Marguerita Tan]

As 2018 marks the final year of filming for Game of Thrones, I reckoned it was a good time as any to check out the HBO megahit’s picturesque filming locations in Northern Ireland (NI) before its eighth and final season rolls out in 2019. In my previous Travel post, I highlighted the GOT filming sites located south of Belfast that one can easily get to via a coach tour. In this post, it will be the locations north of Belfast.

As Northern Ireland’s most famous natural attraction – the Giant’s Causeway – is in proximity to many GOT film locations up north, most tours include this attraction. So I booked the Game of Thrones and Giant’s Causeway Full-Day Tour via Viator as at £36, it was cheaper than most. Managed by McComb’s Coach Travel (mccombscoaches.com), its claim to GOT fame is that they were a longtime transport provider for the show and its GOT Location Tour along the Causeway Coastal Route also received a 5-star rating from Tourism Ireland.

From Belfast city centre, the tour first took us along the scenic Antrim Coastal Road flanked by the robust Irish Sea on the right and the charming Glens of Antrim on the left. Our driver-guide Derek is a chatty chap who gave us much GOT and NI information, as well as some of the lamest dad jokes ever.

1. Carnlough Harbour

About an hour in, we arrived at the small coastal village of Carnlough where the GOT attraction is the cobblestone harbour steps featured in Season 6 Episode 7 when Arya Stark resurfaces from the Braavos canal after being attacked by the Waif. Not sure how clean the waters are but much respect for Maisie Williams considering how immersed in the waters she was while shooting the scene!

2. Cushendun Caves

A half-hour drive further north is the quaint village of Cushendun where, next to the mesmerizing sight of big waves crushing onto gigantic rocks along the coastline, you will find the 400 million-years-old caves depicting a cove in the Stormlands in which a horrified Ser Davos Seaworth witnesses Melisandre giving birth to a shadow assassin that eventually kills Renly Baratheon in Season 2 Episode 4.

SPOILER ALERT: Weeks after our visit here, the area was closed off for what Irish GOT location watchers suspected to be filming for Season 8. Will there be action in Storm’s End or the Stormlands in the final season? Your guess is as good as mine.

3. The Dark Hedges

This beautiful 18th Century avenue with about 100 beech trees leading up to Gracehill House has become arguably the most iconic Game of Thrones location ever since it appeared as the Kingsroad that Arya and Gendry travel on to escape King’s Landing in Season 2 Episode 2. Located further inland away from the eastern coastline, Derek brought us here during “lunchtime” in order to avoid the crowds from other tours, yet many people still there were. To see the “most recognisable” part of the trees with the distinctive arching branches, you have to walk at least halfway down the avenue. I’d have loved to walk down the entire avenue but on a coach tour with a packed schedule, we don’t have that luxury.

4. The Fullerton Arms, Ballintoy

Lunch was at the Fullerton Arms in Ballintoy after a jaunt to the Giant’s Causeway. Besides great food and beer, what’s cool about the pub/restaurant is that it has a replica of the Iron Throne, complete with cloak and sword for you to pose with, PLUS Door 6 of the Door of Thrones series depicting Season 6 events. The ten pubs with the doors indicate that there are GOT film locations nearby. This one highlights House Targaryen, namely Daenerys Stormborn’s dragon Drogon and the Dothraki horses finally crossing the Narrow Sea towards Westeros. The doors were specially crafted from fallen branches from the Dark Hedges after a storm hit them in 2016. Ingenious marketing, really.

5. Ballintoy Harbour

Just a few minutes away from the lunch venue, at the end of a long and winding downhill road, is the quaint Ballintoy Harbour that stands in for Pkye and the Iron Islands. Theon Greyjoy is baptised here in Season 2, and is also the venue for Euron’s drowning and rebirth in Season 6.

SPOILER ALERT: According to Derek, this location was much used for Season 8 filming. Maybe we will get to see Theon completing his redemption arc, like saving sister Yara from uncle Euron maybe?

6. Larrybane

Another popular NI attraction located nearby is the Carrick A Rede Rope Bridge which, after crossing it, leads to Larrybane Quarry which not only offers breathtaking panoramic views of islands and headlands in the Atlantic Ocean, it’s also the site for Renly’s camp in the Stormlands in Season 2 and where Brienne of Tarth was named to Renly’s Kingsguard. In Season 6, it was used as the Kingsmoot setting. From here, it was about a two-hour scenic drive down south back to Belfast.

All in all, there are about 18 GOT locations north of Belfast but not every one is easily accessible. One example is Fair Head – located further east of Larrybane – which provides the spectacular cliffs of Dragonstone in Season 7 on which Danerys, Jon Snow and Drogon share a special moment, among other significant scenes.

For a GOT fan, this McCombs tour is adequate with sufficient information and videos played in the bus before we set off on foot for most locations. Don’t get me wrong – our driver-guide was great but for a “total” GOT immersive experience, you might want to consider tours that have a separate guide who could accompany the tour group to every site and explain in detail how each sequence was filmed at the spot. Also, during long distances, past episodes of Game of Thrones episodes will be shown instead. Some even have costumes and props thrown in.

Still, for £35 (not including lunch and rope bridge fee), this tour is still a good alternative. If you are keen to cover every location, customized tours are available with various GOT tour groups. Or download the GOT Filming Locations Northern Ireland app which provide directions to the locations and you can adventure on your own (just read the instructions carefully as many are inaccessible or are private land).

Things to Note for the Tour:
1. There’s a lot of walking (uphill, downhill) so dress right with proper outdoor shoes and clothes befitting the Northern Irish weather
2. You need to have moderate fitness; not recommended for anyone with limited mobility
3.  Bring water, although there are locations where you can buy drinks

(All Game of Thrones images – Credit: HBO)

Read also:
*
8 ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About Daenerys Targaryen’s Endgame

* ‘Game of Thrones’: Who’s Likely to Die in Season 8?
‘Game Of Thrones’: 5 Heroic Deeds Jaime Lannister May Achieve in Season 8
* ‘Games Of Thrones’: 10 Essential Reunions At Winterfell We’d Like To See In Season 8
‘Game of Thrones’: Why Jon Snow May Use Greatsword Dawn to Slay the Night King in Season 8

Northern Ireland: ‘Games Of Thrones’ Locations To Visit South Of Belfast

L1170732 (640x480)

Tollymore Forest Park, which provided much of the backdrops for GOT Season 1

The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones won’t arrive till 2019, so what is a fan to do till then? Well, other than re-reading the book series of A Song of Ice And Fire and watching countless GOT fan theories on YouTube, one could go visit the filming locations where the HBO hit fantasy series is primarily shot in – Northern Ireland.

Although Games of Thrones is also filmed in countries such as Croatia, Iceland, Malta, Morocco and Spain, Northern Ireland (a.k.a #GOTTerritory) alone boasts over 25 filming locations that one can get to easily via a group or personalized tour.

On the same week that I caught the spectacular Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience featuring GOT composer Ramin Djawadi in Belfast, I embarked on the Game of Thrones Winterfell Locations Trek (gameofthronestours.com), a full-day tour which took us south of Belfast to locations featured prominently in the ground-breaking Season 1.

GOT S1 E1 Starks at Winterfell

House Stark in Winterfell – ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 1 Episode 1 [Credit: HBO]

A. Castle Ward, near Strangford
An hour-and-half drive down south from the city centre through the scenic Ards peninsula brought us to Strangford (via a ferry ride at Portaferry). Nearby, the 820-acre Castle Ward Estate hosts at least nine GOT film locations, sited relatively close together.

This included a 16th century castle and stableyard (pictured above) that were used for the iconic Winterfell, ancestral home of House Stark, in Season 1. The area where Jon Snow, Robb and Bran Stark practised archery is to the right of the bikes pictured above. The spot where the roofs meet is where young Bran climbed up the castle wall before being reprimanded by his mother. The rest of the castle walls we see in the show are generated by CGI.

A 3km walk through the estate’s sprawling gardens and woodlands took us to other prominent GOT locations. First up was a 15th century Tower House sitting majestically on a small hill which served as one of Walder Frey’s Twins (above left).

Right in front of the mini castle is Audley’s Field, a rolling grassland that was the location for Robb Stark’s camp in the Riverlands and where he meets the love of his life, Talisa Maegyr, after the Battle of Oxcross in Season 2 Episode 4.

Just a stone’s throw away, as we continued along the shores of Strangford Lough, we came to the spot where Brienne of Tarth and Jamie Lannister had a coastal spat in Season 2.

L1170637 (640x480)One of the fascinating things we learnt on the tour is how the show’s production team has a knack of looking for “sexy” trees – trees with unusual shapes and forms – as  landmarks to locate key sites that can be reused again. The tree above, for example, does indeed looked sexy but its purpose wasn’t – it was where Brienne and Jamie found three tavern girls hung on the branches. Further down this trail is the spot where Tyrion Lannister and Bronn were ambushed by the Stone Crows of the Vale in Season 1.

B. The Cuan, Strangford

Okay, The Cuan is not a GOT film location but the pub where we had lunch. However, it also houses Door #1 of the Doors of Thrones series which comprises 10 specially crafted doors made from wood from fallen beech branches from the Dark Hedges, more famously known to GOT fans as The Kingsroad. Each door depicts a GOT Season 6 event with Door 1 featuring the geography of Westeros from the show’s opening title sequence.

After lunch, it was so cool to meet the canines that played direwolves Summer and Grey Wind (real names Thor and Odin) in the show, along with their well-coiffed owner, his brother and their father who were also extras in the series. Gorgeous beasts!

C. Inch Abbey

After lunch, we traveled westwards to the remains of the 12th century Cistercian Abbey sited in a picturesque location beside the River Quoile. This is where Catelyn Stark (above right) informs Robb that Ned has been executed, and later the young Stark’s bannermen declare him as King in the North. This was also where the tour provided us with Stark cloaks, shields and swords for a fun round of cosplay and selfie-time!

2018-05-23 20.53.15

GOT Winterfell Tour dd 23 May 2018 [Credit: gameofthronestours.com]

D. Tollymore Forest
The last stop which hosts many iconic scenes from the landmark Season 1 premiere is Tollymore Forest, a 630-hectare park filled with beautiful fauna and breathtaking woods located at the foothills of Mourne Mountains. This part of the tour required yet another 3km walk through undulating terrain (steep slopes, rocky paths, stone across streams, etc) right into the heart of the park. (I thank God I had just enough strength and energy to keep up with the rest!)

L1170738 (640x480)Before I forget, our wonderful guide Adrian is not only an extra on Games of Thrones since Season 6 (as a Stark/Greyjoy/Lannister soldier), he’s also the stand-in for Liam Cunningham’s Ser Davos Seaworth. (From the picture above, you can understand why!) Throughout the trip, with videos and photo stills, Adrian demonstrated how scenes at each location was shot. It made the tour that much more informative and interesting.

At the wooded “North of the Wall” side of Tollymore Forest, he was telling us how much fake snow the GOT creators had to bring to the park in order to shoot Season 1 Episode 1’s first sequence (pictured above) where the Night Watch members discover the dead Wildings before encountering the White Walkers beyond the Wall. We even got to see the tree stump that Kit Harington as Jon Snow sat on (!) while he spoke to Tyrion Lannister around the campfire prior to reaching the Wall.

As we trekked back towards the more leafy part of the park, we are shown the stone bridge where Ned Stark and the Starks lads first found the dead stag…

… and as we climbed down the slope beside the bridge, we came to a bank that is directly opposite the memorable scene where the Stark clan found the direwolf pups.

There are arguably one or two other GOT film locations south of Belfast that we did not cover but as you can see, there was already so much to see in just one day. Even if you are not a fan, the tour offers a good way of seeing Northern Ireland’s spectacular landscapes and coastlines, parks and private estates. For £50 (about US$65, not including lunch), this tour is for sure totally worth every penny for a GOT enthusiast. If you are keen to cover every location, customized tours are available with various GOT tour groups. Or download the GOT Filming Locations Northern Ireland app which provide directions to the locations and you can adventure on your own.

Things to Note for the Tour:
1. There’s a lot of walking so dress right with proper outdoor shoes and clothes befitting the Northern Irish weather
2. You need to be relatively fit; not recommended for anyone with limited mobility (although you can choose to skip the long trek bits)
3.  Bring water, although there are locations where you can buy drinks
4. If you are travelling with kids: As Game of Thrones is rated 18+, this tour doesn’t allow children under 12, while those aged 12-18 require a parent or guardian’s written note. However, some tours (like my next one) do allow children.

(All Game of Thrones images – Credit: HBO)

Read also:
* 8 ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About Daenerys Targaryen’s Endgame
* ‘Game of Thrones’: Who’s Likely to Die in Season 8?
‘Game Of Thrones’: 5 Heroic Deeds Jaime Lannister May Achieve in Season 8
* ‘Games Of Thrones’: 10 Essential Reunions At Winterfell We’d Like To See In Season 8
‘Game of Thrones’: Why Jon Snow May Use Greatsword Dawn to Slay the Night King in Season 8

Next up: Game of Thrones Locations to Visit North of Belfast

‘Game of Thrones’ Live Concert Experience 2018 : An Exquisite Extravaganza

2018-05-25 22.36.38-1 (640x640)Next to gripping story lines, captivating performances and show-stopping battle scenes, a top highlight in the award-winning HBO epic fantasy series Game of Thrones is its stirring musical scores composed by Ramin Djawadi (Iron Man, Westworld).

The soundtrack for last year’s Season 7 is in particular brilliant in every sense of the word; so much so that Game of Thrones garnered its first Grammy nomination in the Score Soundtrack for Visual Media category, with Djawadi up against four movie  nominees namely Arrival, Dunkirk, Hidden Figures and La La Land (the eventual winner).
2018-05-25 22.34.48 (640x562)So when it was announced that Ramin Djawadi will embark on yet another Game of Thrones live concert tour featuring show music up to Season 7, I knew it was an experience I just have to, er, experience for myself. I chose to fly to Belfast to see the show last month on May 25 ‘cos not only is Northern Ireland “Game of Thrones Territory”, the venue SSE Arena is also just a stone’s throw away from Titanic Studios where most of the interior scenes of the hit series is shot. Add to that, it would give me a chance to tour Belfast – a city I’d yet to visit then – as well as various GOT filming locations throughout the country.

A FEAST FOR THE EARS & EYES
The 2018 Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience in Belfast features a custom stage, full orchestra (Ulster Orchestra), choir (Belfast Philharmonic), soloists, pyrotechnics, lighting effects and specially edited footage from the show.  Before the concert’s actual start, the audience were thrilled when over the intercom, Queen Cersei (voiced by the magnificent Lena Headey) icily informed those who do not silence their phones “will be boiled alive in the blood of their children…” The chilly announcement was understandably greeted with thunderous applause!

2018-05-25 20.26.14 (538x640)The concert kicked off with the unmistakable Game of Thrones theme, which really put everyone in the mood for more. As music scores from the first six seasons played, solo singers and musicians made full use of the extended catwalk stage, of which a major highlight was this violinist who soared almost 40 feet into the air as she performed a haunting House Stark theme.

L1170969 (640x480)There were so much action both on stage and on the big screen that sometimes you are torn between wanting to watch the show’s footage which you have already seen (but will never get tired of) or the soloists doing their bit live.

Djawadi, the talented genius that he is, performed a couple of solos too using either custom-made or unique musical instruments, as did a couple of musicians ranging from percussionists to horn players.

L1170979 (640x358)Most of the goose-bump-raising moments came from several dramatic events such as The Red Wedding, The Battle of the Bastards and Destruction of the Great Sept Of Baelor, the latter complete with green “wildfire” fumes engulfing Djawadi after his solo on a raised stage. Visually stunning, audibly heart-stopping.

SEASON 7’S HIGH POINTS
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The second act was devoted to music from Season 7 which, if truth be told, I was looking forward to the most. From the poignant ‘Home’ as Arya Stark returns to Winterfell to the heartbreaking ‘Truth’ a.k.a Jon and Dany’s love theme, thanks to the almost flawless performance of the orchestra, one does feel as if transported to the realms of Westeros alongside the show’s characters. The dry ice effect on stage also helped much in making the audience imagined that they were in the miserly cold north too.

L1170986 (640x351)One of the most thrilling Season 7 events was of course Episode 4’s The Loot Train Attack which was presented with loads of fire pyrotechnics as Daenerys and Drogon breathed down on the Lannister army. Actually, there’s always some fire sprouts on stage whenever the dragons popped up on screen, much to anyone’s delight.

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With Game of Thrones Season 7 ending – SPOILER ALERT – with the Night King and a resurrected Viserion bringing down the Wall, one thought the concert would end on that somber note but thankfully that wasn’t the case…

L1170997 (640x466)After making his thank you’s to all and sundry – including Game of Thrones crew members from the nearby Titanic Studios – Djawadi and company ended the over 2-hour-long show with yet another vigorous performance of the totally hummable theme song.

2018-05-25 22.40.12-1 (640x535)The really nice touch at the end, after the performers had taken their bows, was an In Memoriam segment featuring the dearly – and not so dearly – departed characters from Game of Thrones. Needless to say, this was a rather long sequence so most of us sat back down onto our seats. It was fun to hear cheers for favorites such as Ned and Rob Stark, Lady Olenna Tyrell and of course Hodor. The most hisses and boos was given to understandably Ramsey Bolton, while Littlefinger received sarcastic applause.

A MUST-SEE IF YOU LOVE ‘GAME OF THRONES’
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All in all, the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience is worth every penny and a must-see if you are a big GOT fan. It’s akin to seven years of show highlights packaged as an extravaganza of live music and visual effects. Utterly exquisite.

The European leg of this year’s tour just ended in London yesterday. It will move on to Canada and America from September to October 2018. You can find more details on gameofthronesconcert.com. If you love classical music, with dramatic imagery to go along with it, you’d definitely enjoy the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience 2018.

Here’s hoping that the concert will come to Asia and also be released on digital/DVD format!

Read also:
* 8 ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Theories About Daenerys Targaryen’s Endgame
* ‘Game of Thrones’: Who’s Likely to Die in Season 8?
‘Game Of Thrones’: 5 Heroic Deeds Jaime Lannister May Achieve in Season 8
* ‘Games Of Thrones’: 10 Essential Reunions At Winterfell We’d Like To See In Season 8
‘Game of Thrones’: Why Jon Snow May Use Greatsword Dawn to Slay the Night King in Season 8