On Thursday, the night before the official kickoff of the SXSW Film Festival, an otherwise nondescript building on the east end of downtown Austin was draped in large, white banners with blood-splattered portraits of Game of Thrones characters. It's part of HBO's "Bleed for the Throne" event, which is part blood draw (via a partnership with the Red Cross), and part immersive experience to get fans hyped for the show's upcoming eighth and final season, which premieres April 14.
The inside of the building was made to replicate the infamous throne room from King's Landing, complete with actors dressed as Lannister guards, who guided participants to their first stop while littering their instructions with all the familiar Game of Thrones rhetoric.
Participants were led through a series of hallways that replicated the experience of four key characters — Arya Stark, Cersei Lannister, her brother Tyrion, and Jon Snow — and highlighted how each of them has bled for the Iron Throne in their own way. (Jon Snow's section, for example, showed where he was betrayed by the Night's Watch.)
The experience also included pews before the Iron Throne, a large choir singing music from HBO's long-running sword-and-sorcery epic, not to mention a small camp setup, where actors dressed as Dothraki, Northerners, and the Free Folk all mingled with guests — and occasionally got into fun scuffles before the pending battle with the Night King and his army of the dead.
Mixed in were swordsmiths, lute players, and even a couple of live horses to make attendees feel like they were hanging out in Westeros.
While it paled in comparison to the massive undertaking of last year's Westworld experience at SXSW, it certainly helped kick up buzz for HBO's marquee series as it enters its eagerly anticipated final season, which arrives in a little over a month.
While you bide your time, be sure to check out all of SYFY WIRE's coverage of SXSW.