Want to experience Winterfell? You may be fortunate enough to be on William's tour, a guide who is passionate about bringing Game of Thrones to life.
Hosting Thronies at Castle Winterfell
As an experienced tourguide, William works with film fans on a daily basis taking them around 'Winterfell' - Castle Ward on the Strangford Lough shoreline in Northern Ireland.
We decided to put a few questions to him to get some behind-the-scenes information on what it's like to host 'Thronies' at Winterfell.
What do you enjoy about your job as a guide for Winterfell Tours?
It’s the people that make it and they come from all over the world. Some very knowledgeable others seeking knowledge about how it all began, where they filmed their favourite scenes, their favourite characters and what they are still doing. I love chatting to them.
Describe some of your most memorable moments on tour with fans.
Once they are dressed in the HBO costumes they are transformed immediately into actors and extras from the series. Now they can recite lines from the episodes and shoot an arrow with the skill and accuracy of Ygritte or wield a sword like Jon Snow. It’s fabulous to see them embrace the experience and have fun with it.
How difficult is it to learn archery?
After a session with the Master at Arms archery coaches at Winterfell, you will be able to hunt for wild boar and venison for your lunch or dinner. It’s the Winterfell takeaway! Alternatively you could try our Iron Age & Mediaeval Banquet if you prefer.
How was it to see Castle Ward transformed into Winterfell?
Although CGI plays a part there were various sets built on location. The workmanship and skill used to transform Castle Ward into Winterfell is a testament to the industry. Although Castle Ward is a 15th Century castle, it was like stepping back in time and finding oneself in the Iron Age.
Did you get to experience any of the filming on set yourself?
As an extra one is basically scenery to enhance the area that the actors are bringing to life. I guess most of us don’t really know how many hours are spent in rehearsal, or getting the costumes right, or even make-up done. Never mind how many ‘takes’ have to be filmed before we can enjoy that 50-minute slot as we sit biting our nails wondering who is going to die next on our televisions at home! Yes it’s intense to watch it being made too.
Favourite scenes, actors and characters from GoT?
Some of the fight scenes are amazing. ‘The Battle of the Bastards’ and ‘The Crush’ in Season 6 required many extras and took battle scenes to a new level, in my opinion. I liked Ned Stark for his ethics, morals and his steadfast approach, although he should have been named “Dead Fast”, because regardless of his values he was dispatched very quickly. All men must die. I have a soft spot for Ayra my heroine, and Tyrion who has some great, even comedic lines in the midst of all the chaos.
Do you have any additional tips for traveling in Northern Ireland?
Be prepared for weather changes. The Director of the first series Tim Van Patten said “you can get four seasons in a day in Northern Ireland” but I say you will enjoy all of them!
Best pub: The Plough in Hillsborough and if you don’t like it then 30 metres down the hill is The Hillside and if you don’t like it then a further 50 metres is The Parsons Nose. Just roll down the hill to each one, you’ll not need to go up it again.
Most underrated attraction: The Gobbins Cliff Walkway
Best activity: Outdoor Pursuits at Clearsky Adventure Centre