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If you’re a Game of Thrones fan visiting Northern Ireland you really cannot miss viewing the Game of Thrones tapestry.
It’s a 90-metre-long embroidered rendition of the entire Game of Thrones series that features scenes from every episode aired to date.
That’s right, Ned Stark’s execution, the Red Wedding, Cersei’s wildfire, and the Mad Queen are all woven in thread on a giant linen tapestry. It’s an embroidery of epic proportions and you can’t miss it.
Here is how to see the Game of Thrones tapestry Belfast and everything you need to know.
Note: if you haven’t seen all of the Game of Thrones series yet, there may be spoilers in this post and/or in the photos of the tapestry. You have been warned!
What is the Game of Thrones tapestry?
The Game of Thrones tapestry is a 90-metre (295 feet) long tapestry that depicts scenes from all eight seasons of the show.
Every season, every episode, and every epic moment has been hand embroidered on here!
It was inspired by the famous Bayeux tapestry that shows the events of the 1066 Battle of Hastings and the conquest of England. An epic battle between William the Conqueror and Harold Godwinson.
On the Game of Thrones tapestry, you’ll find all your favourite characters, the seven Kingdoms of Westeros, steamy romances, heartbreaking betrayals, and bloody battles given life through thread.
Why a tapestry?
Tapestries have been a way for us to tell famous stories, battles, and events since the 3rd century BC.
A picture can say a thousand words – especially when most people through history couldn’t read!
Tapestries are a way to celebrate and educate history and Game of Thrones truly has become part of Northern Ireland’s culture now as the crew spent so many years here filming the multi-award-winning show.
Northern Ireland also has a huge history of textiles and linen manufacturing, it was one of the city’s biggest exports during the industrial revolution.
This modern tapestry was hand embroidered onto linen that was made using the last surviving linen mills in Northern Ireland.
It’s the perfect fusion between old traditions and the new fantasy show that has brought thousands of tourists to visit the country and filming locations. Also known as the Game of Thrones effect.
Who made the Game of Thrones tapestry?
The Game of Thrones Tapestry was originally commissioned by HBO and Tourism Ireland in 2017.
But, it was 30 talented local stitchers, artists, and illustrators who are the stars of the show as they spent around 1,500 hours making it!
Originally, the tapestry was going to be 77 metres long to reflect over 77 hours of storytelling for the series up until season 6.
However, they ended up extending the tapestry to over 90 metres for the final series 7 & 8.
While audiences at home were often left speechless after the final episodes of Game of Thrones, the tapestry team would instantly be hard at work designing and sewing the scenes for the embroidery.
Designing the Game of Thrones tapestry
Although the end result of the tapestry that we see is fabulous sewing, the journey actually starts with hand-drawn sketches.
Artists and illustrators would make drawings on canvas of the scenes that they wanted to put onto the tapestry.
These sketches were then recreated digitally with a weaving guide and a recommended colour palette.
These designs were then sent over to Belfast, where a team would then hand embroider the designs on traditionally weaved linen using a Jacquard loom.
Embroidering the tapestry after each episode
The weaving required assistance from textiles guilds, including the Northern Ireland Lace Guild, the Patchwork Guild, and the Embroidery Guild.
There were around 30 local stitchers who would work on the tapestry from all ages and backgrounds!
The design would be hand woven onto the linen and then they would add the finer details and finishing touches.
On your visit, you’ll get to see Joffrey’s glittering golden crown, the shimmering green of the wildfire, and a silver Direwolf the symbol of the Stark house!
Game of Thrones tapestry dragons
One of the highlights for me was seeing the detail in Daenerys’ dragons on the tapestry.
They were some of the largest pieces woven into the fabric and the colours in the embroidery were stunning! According to the museum, the dragons were the hardest creatures to sew.
Of course, there are many notable scenes in Game of Thrones that feature Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion.
The most heartbreaking is when the Night King transforms Viserion into an ice dragon zombie and ice fire that can burn!
But, the most shocking has to be when Daenerys burns King’s Landing to the ground riding on Drogon and becomes the ‘Mad Queen’.
All three dragons can be seen here on their journey from baby hatchlings to huge apex predators.
Where is the Game of Thrones tapestry now?
The Game of Thrones tapestry sits proudly on display in the Ulster Museum Belfast.
You’ll find it on the top floor of the museum and the entire tapestry has been laid out in a labyrinth-Esque exhibition trail you can follow.
The Game of Thrones tapestry is one of the longest in the world and is the largest textile display at the museum.
It doesn’t have a glass covering so you can get really close. But, the museum asks you to not touch it or you’ll be sent to The Wall. After all, Littlefingers can cause trouble!
There are some great videos found around the exhibition where you can see some behind-the-scenes footage of them sewing the tapestry on the loom.
Also, there are some interviews with the talented seamstresses involved about the entire experience and what it was like to be involved in such an important project.
Note: the Game of Thrones tapestry is sometimes loaned to other museums around the world. Make sure to check the Ulster Museum website before you visit to ensure it will be there!
How to visit the Ulster Museum Belfast
The Ulster Museum is a little further out of the city centre in the heart of the Belfast Botanic Gardens and near Queen’s University.
It’s a 60-minute walk from the Titanic Museum or a 20-25 minute walk from Belfast City Hall.
The Ulster Museum is in the south of the city and is a 10-minute walk from the Botanic train station. You can also take one of the Metro buses from Donegall Square East to Queen’s University.
If you’re driving to the Ulster Museum, it’s good to note that there is no dedicated parking to visit.
But, there is plenty of off-road parking spaces on the streets connected to Stranmillis Road. I parked on Pretoria Street for free and walked down to the museum from there.
Ulster Museum’s address is Stranmillis Road, Botanic Gardens, Belfast, BT9 5AB. Click here for a Google Pin!
Ulster Museum opening times
It’s good to note that the Ulster Museum is not open every day, so try to avoid planning a visit on a Monday if you can.
The Ulster Museum is open from Tuesday – Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm.
You don’t have to book a ticket to visit the museum or the Game of Thrones tapestry, just simply show up and take a look around!
Ulster Museum ticket prices
The other great piece of news is that visiting the Game of Thrones tapestry is completely FREE!
The Ulster Museum is a great budget activity when visiting Belfast as it won’t cost a penny to visit. But, donations are always appreciated.
The Ulster Museum is one of the best museums in Northern Ireland and it’s well worth checking out.
As well as the Game of Thrones tapestry, they have many amazing exhibitions that are spread over four floors!
Other things to do at the Ulster Museum
Beyond the Game of Thrones tapestry, the Ulster Museum has some fabulous and informative exhibitions to explore.
You really shouldn’t leave without exploring ‘The Troubles and Beyond’ in their Histories Gallery.
This will give you more context about The Troubles and this poignant chapter in Belfast’s history and how it affected Northern Ireland and the world.
They also have lots of Iron Age, Bronze Age, and Medieval artifacts that have been discovered in the area over time.
My favourite part was the Natural Science gallery, you have to check out their huge collection of crystals.
There is a dark room where you can press a button to see their natural glow-in-the-dark and radioactive crystals on display! It was so cool.
If you like fine art, they have many art galleries at the Ulster Museum too. These are usually semi-permanent exhibitions and change regularly so there is always a reason to go back.
Ulster Museum café
Before you leave the Ulster Museum and the Game of Thrones tapestry, I would recommend checking out their café on the bottom floor.
They have hot and cold drinks, light lunches, and homemade treats throughout the day on offer.
It’s a great way to fuel up for a day of exploring Belfast and its many attractions!
I treated myself to a coffee and a slice of their raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake and it was divine.
Looking for more Game of Thrones locations in Belfast?
If you’re looking for some Game of Thrones things to do in Belfast you will have plenty of choices along with tapestry.
The top thing I would recommend would be to take their Glass of Thrones walking trail in the Titanic Quarter.
Along the trail, you’ll get to see six giant stained glass windows that depict poignant scenes from the show! My favourite was the Iron Throne where they had a seat you could sit on.
If you’re on the Journey of Doors trail, you’ll find a Game of Thrones door in The Dark Horse in Commercial Court.
Plus, there are escape rooms and Steenson’s Jewellers who sell Game of Thrones-inspired jewellery.
They made almost all the jewellery for the show including the Hand of the King brooch and Sansa’s Queen of the North crown!
Another top attraction you simply cannot miss is the Game of Thrones Studio Tour. A brand-new exhibition that has thousands of sets, costumes, and props on display.
You can see creatures beyond The Wall, walk through Winterfell Hall and even have your face show up in the Hall of Faces!
It was one of my favourite Game of Thrones experiences in Northern Ireland and you cannot miss it if you’re a fan.
It’s a little further out of the city and is located in Banbridge. But, there are tours that include transfers from Belfast if you’re not driving.
Other highlights in Belfast
Beyond Game of Thrones tourism, there is plenty to do in this gorgeous city in Northern Ireland.
No visit to Belfast would be complete without a visit to the Titanic Museum where you can see the real story and voices behind the ship that was never meant to sink.
Commercial Court is Belfast’s famous Umbrella Street. You can visit famous pubs here like The Duke of York!
The Ulster Museum is located in the Belfast Botanic Gardens which is gorgeous and has greenhouses. Plus, Queen’s University nearby is a dark academia dream.
The Belfast City Hall is also very impressive in the city centre along with the historic St Anne’s Cathedral.
Belfast Castle is also somewhere I would recommend stopping by. It has a wonderful garden and endless views over the city and coast as it’s located on a cliff.
Never forget that from Belfast, you’re only a 60-minute drive away from the ancient and magical Causeway Coast!
You can visit highlights like the Dark Hedges, the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.