Belfast Telegraph

Game of Thrones stars 'back home' for Belfast premiere

NI screening of final season Westeros fans have all been waiting for

Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

Stars of the world's biggest TV show, Game of Thrones, were back where it all began as the Waterfront Hall hosted the premiere of the eagerly anticipated eighth and final season last night.

In April 2011, the world had its first glimpse of the fantasy epic and eight years later the HBO spectacular has grown into a worldwide phenomenon.

Largely filmed in Northern Ireland, the show has captured the imagination of millions and put Northern Ireland on the map as a must-see tourist destination.

Visitors have flocked in their tens of thousands to seek out locations featured in the production, providing an estimated £30m a year to the tourist industry since filming started in 2010.

The cast of Game of Thrones attend the
The cast of Game of Thrones attend the "Game of Thrones" Season 8 premiere screening at Waterfront Hall on April 12, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The first episode of the final season of the HBO series will air this weekend. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Stars arrive for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Maisie Williams, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, and Isaac Hempstead Wright arrive for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Jerome Flynn attending the Game of Thrones Premiere, held at Waterfront Hall, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 12, 2019. See PA story SHOWBIZ Thrones. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Liam Cunningham attending the Game of Thrones Premiere, held at Waterfront Hall, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 12, 2019. See PA story SHOWBIZ Thrones. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Maisie Williams (left) and Kerry Ingram attending the Game of Thrones Premiere, held at Waterfront Hall, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 12, 2019. See PA story SHOWBIZ Thrones. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - APRIL 12: Isaac Hempstead Wright attends the "Game of Thrones" Season 8 screening at the Waterfront Hall on April 12, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Kit Harington attending the Game of Thrones Premiere, held at Waterfront Hall, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 12, 2019. See PA story SHOWBIZ Thrones. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - APRIL 12: Maisie Williams attends the "Game of Thrones" Season 8 screening at the Waterfront Hall on April 12, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - APRIL 12: Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner attend the "Game of Thrones" Season 8 screening at the Waterfront Hall on April 12, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Maisie Williams (left) and Sophie Turner attending the Game of Thrones Premiere, held at Waterfront Hall, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 12, 2019. See PA story SHOWBIZ Thrones. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Ben Crompton attending the Game of Thrones Premiere, held at Waterfront Hall, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 12, 2019. See PA story SHOWBIZ Thrones. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - APRIL 12: Kit Harington attends the "Game of Thrones" Season 8 screening at the Waterfront Hall on April 12, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Stars arrive for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Maisie Williams, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, and Isaac Hempstead Wright arrive for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Maisie Williams and Sophie Turnerat the the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Stars arrive for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner arrive for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Richard Dormer, Maisie Williams, Kerry Ingram, Gemma Whelan, Pilou Asbaek, Issac Hempstead Wright, Joe Dempsie, Conleth Hill, Hannah Murray, Jerome Flynn, John Bradley, Chris Newman, Bernadette Caulfield, Kit Harington, Carice van Houten, Liam Cunningham, Richard Dormer, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jacob Anderson, and Sophie Turner attending the Game of Thrones Premiere, held at Waterfront Hall, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 12, 2019. See PA story SHOWBIZ Thrones. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Kit Harington arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Pilou Asbaek arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Sophie Turner arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Stars arrive for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Stars arrive for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Pilou Asbaek arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Richard Dormer arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Stars arrive for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Conleth Hill arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Carice van Houten arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Carice van Houten arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Stars arrive for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Stars arrive for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Kit Harrington arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Kit Harington arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner arrive for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Kit Harington arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Kerry Ingram arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Kit Harington arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Hannah Murray arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Isaac hempstead Wright arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Ben Compton arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Gemma Whelan arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Jacob Anderson arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Liam Cunningham arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Rebecca April May and John Bradley arrive for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Jerome Flynn arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Jerome Flynn arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Jerome Flynn arrives for the Game of Thrones Season 8 Premier at the Waterfront ICC in Belfast on April 12th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Isaac Hampstead Wright attends the season six premiere of "Game Of Thrones" at TCL Chinese Theatre on Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

In a fitting farewell to the country the show calls home, stars including Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) took to the red carpet to herald the return to Westeros fans have been waiting almost two years for.

"I am having sleepless nights about the whole thing, I really am," said Kit Harington.

"I'm just a worrier. There is a lot of pressure on this. I really hope we have done something that most of the people that follow this show will love. I'm excited for people to see it, but nervous. I'll watch the final episode on my own."

Sophie Turner wore a striking, white Louis Vuitton gown on the red carpet and described saying goodbye after ten years in the role as sad but liberating.

"I've spent 10 years doing it.

"We've really nurtured these characters and now it is time to leave that chapter of our lives behind, but of course it is sad," she said.

Northern Ireland actor Conleth Hill found world-wide fame in the role of Lord Varys and has also been a leading cast member for all eight seasons.

"It's all been very surreal but very beneficial for me and also for Northern Ireland, showing off the best of our country.

"I'm just one of many local boys and girls working on this show and they've all done a brilliant job."

John Bradley stars as Samwell Tarly and said there was no better place than Belfast to begin the farewells.

"It's been such a huge part of our lives and it's been the backdrop to the whole production," he said.

"It's probably the last time we'll all be together as a cast and it feels right to end it here in Belfast," he added.

All cast members were remaining tight-lipped on how the show will end, though Dublin actor Liam Cunningham, who plays David Seaworth in the show, did give one small hint.

"Like life, some things don't get resolved, some things do, that's all I'm going to tell you," he said.

The final series premieres on April 15 at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV.

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