Belfast Telegraph

Game of Thrones fever hits a new high with Northern Ireland tourist map, a glossy cover shoot and possible movie

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

As excitement over the new series of Game of Thrones reaches unprecedented levels, it seems everyone wants a piece of the action.

Hollywood, glossy mags and the tourist industry are all cashing in on the phenomenal popularity of the show, which has given Northern Ireland unprecedented worldwide exposure.

As our most scenic locations once again prepare to play a starring role in the globally successful HBO series, there has been a tantalising hint that a full-length feature film could be in the pipeline.

The massively anticipated fourth series of Game of Thrones will air on our television screens next Monday, with excitement building among its millions of fans.

The television series, which is filmed in a number of sites across Northern Ireland as well as Iceland, Morocco, Malta, Croatia and other locations, has provided a huge boost to the province's film and tourism industries.

One enterprising car hire company has now produced a Game of Thrones map which will bring tourists on a tour around the various locations it is shot at across counties Londonderry, Antrim and Down.

Budget Ireland has highlighted each of the filming locations, along with key moments from the series which they have provided the backdrop to.

It includes Tollymore Forest Park, Ballintoy Harbour, Downhill beach, the Dark Hedges, and Murlough Bay. For example, Cushendun Caves is highlighted as where scenes involving the birth of the shadow baby in series two were shot.

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The route map available to Game of Thrones fans

As anticipation builds, tourism bosses were thrilled when one of the world's best known magazines, Vanity Fair, decided to feature the cast on the front of its April issue.

Key characters were photographed with the stunning Antrim Coast Road as their picturesque backdrop in a dark and atmospheric image. It was captured by world famous photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Set in the land of Westeros, Game of Thrones has amassed millions of fans across the globe, including pop star Madonna and US President Barack Obama, who reportedly asked for a special preview of the the new series.

The production team has promised devotees some of the most shocking and mind-blowing scenes will come at the end of this series.

The complexity of the production has been upped too, with the scale of the thrilling, action packed programme more remarkable than in previous episodes.

Promises of more exciting and intense storylines and climactic events taking place in season four have fans counting down the hours until the premiere next Monday.

Game of Thrones is based on the epic fantasy novel, A Song of Ice and Fire, by US author George R.R. Martin.

Earlier this month, the 65-year-old told The Hollywood Reporter that turning Game of Thrones into a movie may be the only way to properly wrap up his complex, multi-layered saga.

"It all depends on how long the series runs," he said.

"Do we run for seven years? Do we run for eight? Do we run for 10? The books get bigger and bigger ... We might need a feature (film) to tie things up."

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Front page: the Vanity Fair cover

Budget Ireland (www.budget.ie)

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