Castles, dragons, and dungeons oh my! We headed to Northern Ireland to seek them out and so much more. We all know that Ireland has a special place in my heart, but every time I head back the country, it surprises me. Movies and TV shows have been using Ireland has the backdrop for many years. And it has just gotten bigger with the success of Game of Thrones. As well as the huge Irish influence in Hollywood right now. Hollywood is calling it the “Great Green Wave” as Ireland received 14 nominations at the Oscars alone. That is not including so many more during award season. The Green Wave is here and I love it!
The highly anticipated movie by Paramount Pictures/eOne, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves films majority of their movie in Northern Ireland and we had the honor to tour these filming sights with Location Manager Naomi Liston. Naomi has a long and impressive resume, including Dungeons & Dragons, Game of Thrones, The Fall, The Northman and so many more. To see a movie and then get to explore where it was filmed is a whole new experience that I highly recommend. Naomi and I talked a lot about how a location is a part of the story. The landscape becomes a character.
Dungeon & Dragons started as a board game in 1974. More than 50 million people worldwide have interacted with Dungeon & Dragons since its creation. The nostalgia and popularity has grown over the 40 years to become a cultural phenomenon. The game became more than just a game by way to unleash creativity with backstories, and adventures. Dungeon & Dragons is known as the beginning of the modern role playing games and the largest influencer of most video games. The game even influenced popular shows like, Stranger Things.
The movie is Directed by Jonathon Goldstein and John Francis Daley and has a star studded cast including: Chris Pine, Hugh Grant, Michelle Rodriquez, and Rege Jean Page. I get to see a sneak peak of the movie and it will not disappoint. It is actioned packed, full of laughs, and and I even shed a tear. It features a “charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers as they undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people.”
Some of the locations in Northern Ireland that we visited from the movie were: Tollymore Forest, Ballintoy Beach, Carrickfergus Castle, Castleward and Glenarm Castle and Seaford Estate.
One of my favorite things about Ireland is the music. I love that you can walk into any pub and you can experience amazing music and just a great time. Recently Belfast was named Unesco City of Music. But the music is not all traditional. New wave, punk, rock are some that have been on the scene since the 1970’s. There is a great museum (Oh Yeah) that celebrates this as well as a venue for artist to come and enjoy. We took a great walking tour through Belfast with Dolores Visher from Belfast Punk Experience, to experience it all. I even got to learn how to play the Bodhran drum. Which is way harder than it looks!
Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. And that mean the royal family has a residence there. I was lucky enough to get to visit their home as well as go live for Hollywood from there. The charming town of Hillsborough is only 30 minutes from Belfast. Hillsborough Castle: Is the official Northern Ireland Royal’s Residence. It is located on 100 acres of land which you can visit the gardens year round. You can tour the home from April- Sept. The drawling room is their living room and an entire room of family photos from the royal family. The Red room is full of stunning paintings. And the throne room is just that, where the royal thrones live and a replica of the Late Queens tiara from her coronation dinner in Northern Ireland. Hillsborough Castle has welcomed the world and witnessed pivotal moments in history for over three hundred years. It even has played a central role in the peace-building process for 40 years. The castle was so important to the late Queen, in 2021 she gave it a royal title. The town became Royal Hillsborough and is only 1 of 4 towns in all of the UK to have this honor.
You can also take a great walking tour through the town with Nikki from Walk it off NI. As a local she knows everything about the area and you even get enjoy some local beers at the pub.
There is only one hotel in the town, is is brand new, and one of my favorites. Arthur’s- Royal Hillsborough is charming and chic.
Get on the wave and book your next adventure to Northern Ireland!
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