Categories: things to doFilm and TV

The beauty of our scenery often steals the scenes in major blockbuster films but that doesn’t stop the A-listers swapping Hollywood for Holywood as more movies and TV shows are made in Northern Ireland.

It’s strange to say, but it’s becoming quite the norm to see superstars of the big screen taking a break from filming and enjoying the delights of Northern Ireland’s cities and beauty spots.

In recent years, we have had everyone from Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans and Jessica Chastain to Judi Dench, Bill Murray and Gillian Anderson work on films and television series being shot on location here. 

Northern Ireland has provided scenic backdrops as dramatic as the plotlines themselves for some of the biggest ever productions.  Here, we've compiled a list of places which have played a central role in iconic movies and television series.

Fair Head, County Antrim (Game of Thrones®) 

Standing in for Dragonstone Cliffs, the place where iconic scenes occurred with Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons, Varys and Melisandre in Season 7, Northern Ireland’s tallest and most beautiful cliff face is near Ballycastle on the Causeway Coastal Route. Steeped in myth and legend, this is a big cliff with a big atmosphere. A series of sublime walking routes offers striking vistas of Ballycastle, Murlough Bay, Rathlin Island, Scotland and more.  

Toome Canal, County Antrim (Game of Thrones®) 

There was a distinct buzz around Toomebridge when the Old Valyrian Canal scenes were filmed for an episode in Season 5, when the disgraced Jorah Mormont takes Tyrion prisoner, throwing him into a stolen boat and setting sail for Meereen. The canal leads off into the huge expanse of Lough Neagh, which borders five of Northern Ireland’s six counties. Apart from the spectacular views this is a lovely place for a walk, a jog or to sit and have a long conversation about your favourite characters. 

Pollnagollum Cave, County Fermanagh (Game of Thrones®) 

As a part of the wonderful Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark, this site, featured as Hollow Hill, in Season 3 was the hideout of Beric Dondarrion and the Brotherhood without Banners. You can follow the Belmore Forest walk from the car park, taking the black route on the waymarked posts. You will come to a short gravel path that takes you to a viewing platform to see the cave.  

Whiterocks Beach, Portrush, County Antrim and Dunluce Castle, Bushmills, County Antrim (Artemis Fowl)

Directed by Northern Ireland native Sir Kenneth Branagh and featuring an all-star cast, Disney’s Artemis Fowl is based on Irish author Eoin Colfer’s best-selling young adult book of the same name. Filmed on location along Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast in the summer of 2018, you will notice some familiar natural beauty spots such as Whiterocks Beach, Portrush and Dunluce Castle. A great film to enjoy with the whole family, you will be inspired to find adventure in these stunning locations. 

The Merchant Hotel and Botanic Gardens, Belfast (The Fall)

The Fall is a psychological thriller set around Belfast and showcases many of Belfast’s most recognisable spots such as The Merchant Hotel and Botanic Gardens. The series, starring Gillian Anderson as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson and Northern Ireland’s Jamie Dornan as serial killer Paul Spector, was written by Allan Cubitt. Now is a great time to re-watch the series from the start and make a list of all the hotspots you can to re-visit in Belfast in accordance with the latest restrictions.

Rathlin Island, County Antrim (The Last Right)

Filmed in Northern Ireland at the end of 2018, The Last Right is the story of two brothers that set off to travel the length of the island of Ireland, from Clonakilty to Rathlin Island, with a coffin on the roof of their car. Rathlin Island is Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore island and home to a diverse array of wildlife, located five miles north of Ballycastle. Amidst the rugged landscape of this beautiful island let your mind wander and discover a tranquillity and beauty that is so unexpected.

Guildhall Square, Derry~Londonderry (Derry Girls) 

The historic speech made by US President Bill Clinton in 1995 outside the Guildhall on Guildhall Square provided the setting for the memorable finale to Series 2. It’s here where James, caught up in the emotion of the day, exclaims “I am a Derry Girl!” Fashioned in a neo-gothic style, the Guildhall is one of the most striking buildings in the city, and also located close to the Peace Bridge – a spot you can’t miss on your next visit. Now is the perfect time to re-watch this iconic series, while you enjoy a cup of tea and a Fifteen. 

Bishop’s Gate, Derry~Londonderry (Derry Girls)

Bishop's Gate is one of the original four gates of the city walls. Look out for a stairway to take you onto the historic walls where you can walk along the top of the walls around the city. This area appeared in Derry Girls as the backdrop to an army checkpoint where the gang pursue Erin’s thought-to-be dead dog Toto, after having claimed to have seen a church apparition…just to get off doing an exam.  

Tollymore Forest, County Down (Dublin Murders)

Without giving away any spoilers, one of the main filming locations for the psychological thriller Dublin Murders takes place in Tollymore Forest Park. Based on Tana French’s internationally bestselling Dublin Murder Squad novels, this television series is set during the height of the Celtic Tiger financial boom and focuses on two murder investigations. With panoramic views of the Mourne Mountains and the sea at Newcastle, Tollymore Forest Park is a spectacular location and perfect for a day out enjoying our natural beauty. 

The Ulster Folk Museum and the Ulster Transport Museum, County Down; Castle Ward, County Down and Armagh Gaol, County Armagh (The Frankenstein Chronicles)

The Frankenstein Chronicles is a period crime drama series filmed across Northern Ireland. Starring Sean Bean, or well-known as Ned Stark from Game of Thrones®, you’ll recognise many filming locations including Armagh Gaol in County Armagh, Castle Ward in County Down and the Ulster Folk Museum and the Ulster Transport Museum in County Down. All these locations have an incredible story to tell and are unmissable on your next trip across Northern Ireland. 

These are just a few of the movies and TV shows filmed around these parts, and our landscapes have inspired writers, directors and producers to use them as stunning locations or backdrops. So, you’ll always find somewhere nearby which becomes your gateway to discovering your next favourite screen legend. 

Fairhead Murlough View Walk
Walking & Hiking
Fairhead Murlough View Walk

Enjoy breath-taking views from the cliff edge of Fairhead

Toome Canal
Walking & Hiking
Toome Canal

A 2km long walk to the shores of Lough Neagh, along the banks of Toome Canal.

Belmore Forest: Pollnagollum Cave Walk
Walking & Hiking
Belmore Forest: Pollnagollum Cave Walk

Pollnagolllum Cave Walk: Belmore Forest part of the Marble Arch

Whiterocks Beach
Beach
Whiterocks Beach

Awarded the prestigious Blue Flag Award again in 2020, Whiterocks Beach has become a favourite with locals and a must see destination for international visitors.

The Merchant Hotel
Hotel
The Merchant Hotel

Belfast's only AA five Red Star hotel, is situated in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter.

Botanic Gardens
Walking & Hiking
Botanic Gardens

This route explores an historic city park with many interesting features, buildings and botanical collections.

Rathlin Island
Nature and Wildlife
Rathlin Island

Amidst the rugged landscape of this isolated island, you can let your mind wander and discover a tranquility and beauty that is so unexpected.

The Guildhall
Historic Sites, Houses, Castles & Buildings
The Guildhall

Fashioned in neo-gothic style, the Guildhall is one of the most striking buildings in the North West and was originally built in 1887. The building now boasts a multifaceted tourism experience providing a central hub for visitors exploring the city

Tollymore Forest Park
Forest Parks
Tollymore Forest Park

Oak wood from Tollymore Forest Park was used for the interiors of the White Star liners which included the Titanic. A walk along the Shimna River is marked by many curiosities, natural and artificial - rocky outcrops, bridges, grottos and caves.

Ulster Folk Museum
Visitor Centres & Museums
Children enjoying the autumn leaves in the museum grounds

Refresh the connection at Ulster Folk Museum, a place where traditions and heritage skills are preserved and celebrated to help shape future generations.

Ulster Transport Museum
Visitor Centres & Museums
Vintage double decker bus

Celebrate the history of invention and innovation through engineering, design, and technology at Ulster Transport Museum

Castle Ward
The National Trust
Castle Ward

Discover a place of contrasts and creativity at Castle Ward, an eccentric 18th century mansion and estate looking out over the tranquil waters of Strangford Lough in County Down.