In a country that’s not much more than 100 miles wide in any direction, Northern Ireland offers the event organiser an almost endless choice of giant experiences to inspire delegates. Whether its recalling the giant and dragons of The Game of Thrones on a visit to one of the amazing TV show’s many dramatic filming locations, walking in giant footsteps on the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast, a UNESCO world heritage site of breathtaking natural beauty, or enjoying giant tastes at an Irish whiskey distillery.
The castles, forests, mountains and moorlands of Northern Ireland are famous backdrops for Game of Thrones. In County Down, Tollymore Forest Park, is the Haunted Forest, an avenue of serpentine beech trees, near Armoy in County Antrim, are the Dark Hedges and the Shillanavogy Valley, under Slemish Mountain, is the Dothraki grasslands. Castle Ward Estate in Strangford, just 40 minutes from Belfast, was seen on screen extensively, it is Winterfell Castle, the Stark family home. Groups can visit the castle for several immersive Game of Thrones experiences, including a dining experience that replicates a feast laid on for the King by the Starks.
Just as they arrive, guests are greeted by the ‘Maester’ at the castle's north gate, then escorted through to the ‘Armory & Forge’. Here they put on Game of Thrones costumes and are led to their table by the 'ladies of Winterfell' to enjoy the King’s feast. This is an authentic experience, with dimly lit church candles on the long tables, fur-lined bench seating, open fire pits and traditional music.
Exciting delegates with a Game of Thrones tour and archery experience is another option at Winterfell Castle (Castle Ward). The Winterfell Castle archery range movie set has been recreated in the castle’s courtyard, where filming took place. Your guests can stand exactly where Jon Snow, Robb and Bran Stark stood and experience the thrill of firing live arrows, while dressed in Game of Thrones costumes.
Belfast and Derry are close to Northern Ireland’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast. Groups tours of the area offer the chance to search for fascinating geological formations such as the Camel, Wishing Chair, Granny and Organ. Was it caused by a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago? Possibly, but locals will tell you it’s the work of local ancient giant Finn McCool. Whether you believe myth or science, visiting is an experience not to be missed.
Bushmills in Country Antrim, is just a few miles south of the Giants Causeway and boasts Ireland’s oldest working distillery, and it is available for group tours. The Old Bushmills Distillery has been using water from its own stream and the same traditional methods, to make Irish Whiskey, since its original grant, signed by King James I, in 1608. There’s nothing quite like the immersive experience of seeing the stages of whiskey making and smelling the sweet aromas of hot malt as its stirred in the mash. Later taste the subtle floral notes; groups enjoy tutored tastings and can relax with a drink in the 1608 Bar.