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Game of Thrones Studio Tour opening 110,000 square feet of Westeros early next year

By Benjamin Bullard
Castle Black guards The Wall in HBO's Game of Thrones

Months after HBO revealed that it plans to preserve one of its scenic location sets in Ireland as a Game of Thrones destination well after the show has come to an end, the network is now offering a better idea of when fans can set foot in at least a small corner of its lavish Westeros mock-up.

The New York Times reports that HBO has its sights set on spring of next year as the opening timeframe for the Game of Thrones Studio Tour, an interactive GoT exhibition spanning 110,000 square feet at Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, Ireland. By then, Game of Thrones will have entered its second phase as a TV franchise as fans await word on when the prequel series, tentatively titled The Long Night, will make its debut.

Fans who make their way to the Linen Mill Studios location where the Studio Tour is based will be treated to an on-site walkabout of the place where GoT’s Winterfell and Castle Black scenes were filmed. But with Game of Thrones’ continuity assured as an expanding and ongoing lore-verse, the Studio Tour will reportedly curate all kinds of additional fun stuff from the original show’s eight seasons.

Beyond showing off the home terrain for the Stark family and the Night’s Watch, the tour reportedly will also feature artifacts and ephemera from across the wider GoT spectrum. That means a trip to Ireland will assure you a close-up glimpse at “the actual sets and props from all over the ‘Thrones’ universe, which will be rebuilt and restored for public consumption by the same construction crews and artists who worked on the show,” according to NYT.

HBO doesn’t plan to stop the GoT tourist attraction itinerary with just the Linen Mill location, either. Other possibilities for similar attractions include “still-standing sets for King’s Landing, in Belfast, where the production was based, and Castle Black and the Wall, in a quarry outside the city,” the reports states.

While all those potential sites lie firmly on the soil of the Emerald Isle, HBO’s Jeff Peters told NYT “it’s possible” that a future Game of Thrones attraction might one day show up in the U.S. “We get pitched all the time, and we’re open to a lot of different opportunities,” he explained.

Maybe it all depends on how strong the series finishes, and with this season’s six episodes reportedly aspiring to cinematic heights of spectacle and drama, the future looks bright — if not for the surviving leaders of the Seven Kingdoms, then at least for the fans. Winter has come, and the beginning of the end is nigh: Game of Thrones returns to HBO for its final season starting April 14.