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Game of Thrones gives Northern Ireland starring role in list of destinations adults most want to visit

The Lord of the Rings' home New Zealand topped the list

By Claire Williamson

Published 08/07/2015

Game of Thrones film location - Stranocum Dark Hedges - Ballymoney
Game of Thrones film location - Stranocum Dark Hedges - Ballymoney
Game of Thrones Film Location - Iron Islands - Ballintoy
Game of Thrones Film Location - Dragonstone Mussenden Temple
The Dark Hedges lining the Bregagh Road in Co Antrim
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge near, Ballintoy, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
The Cushendun Caves
Murlough Nature Reserve
Arlene Foster wants to use tourism jewels like Ballintoy harbour to tempt Asian and Arab tourists
Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy, during filming at Ballintoy
Game of Thrones Arya remains under the watch of the The Hound HBO
HBO has defended graphic scenes of sex and violence in fantasy epic Game of Thrones
Maisie Williams as Arya
Game of Thrones King Joffrey and his smirk of contempt are back HBO
Game of Thrones Jaime and Cersai in heated discussions HBO
Game of Thrones Sansa and Tyrion have a heart-to-heart HBO
Game of Thrones Oberyn with Ellaria, mother of the four youngest Sand Snakes HBO
Game of Thrones Tyrion and Shae have words HBO
Game of Thrones The Hound strides the fields in heavy armour HBO
The battle for the wall: Jon Snow (Kit Harington) continues to fight the Wildlings in the Game of Thrones Season 4
Dragon lady: Emilia Clarke as Daenerys
Game of Thrones Daario will be a new arrival in season 4 HBO
Game of Thrones Tywin wearing the Hand of the King brooch HBO
Game of Thrones Ygritte and Tormund prepare for battle HBO
Game of Thrones Sam, a steward of the Night's Watch HBO
Game of Thrones Margaery and Olenna in the courtyard HBO

Tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of Jon Snow in Westeros or to get their picture taken at the dark hedges have given Northern Ireland a starring role in the film and TV destinations adults most want to visit.

A new study commissioned by HBO has revealed that one in four adults choose where to go on their next getaway based on their favourite TV show or movie.

Game of Thrones based on George R Martin's best-selling books has not only put Northern Ireland on the international film production map but also provided a huge boost to the tourism industry as it provides locations for the fictional land of Westeros.

On a hotly contended list of 30 destinations - topped by New Zealand which was the backdrop for The Lord Of The Rings trilogy - the Causeway Coast and Glens placed third.

Meanwhile New York takes second place for the hit series Sex and the City starring Sarah Jessica Parker,  Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon as best friends living in Manhattan.

Also making the list was Las Vegas, USA for fans hoping to see the sights of The Hangover in real life.

Harry Potter fans have also been taking in their favourite film location as they visited Alnwick Castle in Northumberland which came sixth in the list.

It was followed by Paris used to film Inception and Benidorm in Spain home to the ITV hit show of the same name, Benidorm.

Fifty Shades of Grey also made an impact for fans of the hit movie starring Holywood actor Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson flocking to Vancouver Canada.

Marbella Spain also made the list for fans of the holiday spot favoured by The Only Way Is Essex crew.

Jon Snow in Game of Thrones season 5
Jon Snow in Game of Thrones season 5
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark. Photo Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO
Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones season 5
Tyrion Lannister in Games of Thrones season 5
Myrcella Baratheon in Game of Thrones season 5
Sansa Stark and Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones season five
Carice van Houten as Melisandre. Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Kit Harington as Jon Snow. Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant. Photo Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO
Kit Harington as Jon Snow, Stephen Dillane as Stannis Baratheon and Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth. Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei and Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm. Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Dean-Charles Chapman as Tommen Baratheon and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister. Photo Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO
Alexander Siddig as Doran Martell. Photo Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO
Indira Varma as Ellaria Sand and Deobia Opaeri as Areo Hotah. Photo Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO
Kristofer Hivju as Tormund Giantsbane. Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister. Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark and Aidan Gillen as Littlefinger. Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Daniel Portman as Podrick Payne and Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth. Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Michael McElhatton as Roose Bolton, Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton and Elizabeth Webster as Walda Frey. Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Conleth Hill as Varys and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister. Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow. Photo Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO

Tourism Northern Ireland’s Director of Product Development Laura McCorry said: “We are absolutely delighted that the Causeway Coast and Glens has been placed third in the list of film and TV destinations adults most want to visit.

"We join some of the biggest names in film and TV including locations where blockbuster films Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter were filmed as well as hit TV series Sex and the City, Downton Abbey and Broadchurch. 

“It comes as no surprise to Tourism Northern Ireland that the Causeway Coast and Glens has been placed in the top three of this list. It is an absolutely stunning part of the world with rugged landscapes, breath taking scenery and a fascinating history of myths and legends and also offers visitors lots to see and do along the route. 

“Thanks to Game of Thrones®, Northern Ireland’s stunning mountains, forests, lakes and countryside are now familiar to millions of people around the world having helped create the magical backdrop that much of the show’s action is filmed against.

"Whilst the scenery is amazing onscreen, there is nothing like seeing the stunning sights for yourself and we look forward to continuing to welcome TV viewers from around the world in the years to come."

Some of the locations based across the Causeway Coast and Glens that Game of Thrones fans can visit for themselves include:

  • The Dark Hedges which is King’s Road
  • Downhill Beach/Dragonstone
  • Larrybane/The Stormlands
  • Ballintoy Harbour/Pyke, The Iron Islands
  •  Cushendun Caves/The Stormlands
  • Cairncastle/North of Winterfell
  • Murlough Bay/Storm’s End
  •  Slemish/Dothraki Grasslands

Embracing the global interest in Game of Thrones a range of visitor experiences are available in Northern Ireland including self-guided and guided tours and experiences such as replica costumes, themed menus and interactive adventures.

The top 30 film and TV destinations adults most want to visit:

1. New Zealand - Lord of the Rings

2. New York, USA - Sex and the City

3. The Causeway Coast and Glens, Northern Ireland - Game of Thrones

4. Las Vegas, USA - The Hangover 

5. West Bay, Dorset, UK - Broadchurch 

6. Alnwick Castle, N'thumberland - Harry Potter

7. Paris, France - Inception

8. Benidorm, Spain - Benidorm

9. Iceland - Game of Thrones

10. Malta - Game of Thrones

11. Skiathos, Greece - Mamma Mia!

12. Vatican City - Angels and Demon

13. Salzburg, Austria - The Sound of Music

14. Ripon, Yorkshire - Downton Abbey

15. Ko Phi Phi Leh, Thailand - The Beach  

16. Kings Cross Station, London - Harry Potter

17. Highclere Castle, Hampshire - Downton Abbey

18. Petra, Jordan - Indiana Jones

19. Notting Hill, UK - Notting Hill

20. Cardiff, UK - Doctor Who

21. Oregon, USA - The Twilight Saga

22. Marbella, Spain - The Only Way is Essex

23. Vancouver, Canada - Fifty Shades of Grey

24. The Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills, USA - Pretty Woman

25. Wells, Somerset, UK - Hot Fuzz

26. Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA - Jaws

27. Cambodia - Tomb Raider

28. Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria - Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang

29. Philadelphia, USA - Rocky

30. Wexford, Ireland - Saving Private Ryan

Further reading:

Game of Thrones season 6: Release date, plots and huge dragons - what we know so far

Game of Thrones finale review: From the cathartic to the heart-breaking – will anyone survive?

Video: Kit Harrington judges Jon Snow impersonators on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Why George R R Martin said no to a Game of Thrones movie for 15 years

Game of Thrones White Walkers freeze Belfast water fountains solid

Northern Ireland tourist numbers increasing but visitors spending less

Game of Thrones star Kit Harington slates Belfast's tourist drive on Late Night with Seth Meyers  

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