Game of Thrones exhibition feels right at home as it arrives in Belfast

Winter has been coming for seven seasons of fantasy epic Game Of Thrones - and with the final season due to start in the early hours of Sunday, it will finally arrive.

Rarely has a series gripped imaginations across the world, and the success has brought tens of thousands of tourists to Northern Ireland, where much of the show has been filmed.

From today fans can immerse themselves in the world of Westeros with Game Of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition running at the Titanic Exhibition Centre until September.

Game Of Thrones stars Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark), Ian Beattie (Ser Meryn Trant) and Liam Cunningham (Sir Davos Seaworth), alongside award-winning costume designer Michele Clapton, were the first to experience the exhibition.

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It features costumes, authentic props and majestic settings from all seven seasons, as well as the Winterfell Crypt and Dragon Skull Pit, which have been exclusively added for the Belfast leg of the tour.

"I think this is just incredible," said Judith Owens, chief executive of TBL International, which operates the Titanic Exhibition Centre.

"When we heard that the touring exhibition was coming to Europe we had to bring it to Belfast - especially to the Titanic Exhibition Centre. It's right in the footprint of the Titanic Studios where so many scenes have been filmed over the last 10 years.

"It just feels that this exhibition had to come here.

"The timing of bringing the exhibition to Belfast has worked very well for us, but Game Of Thrones is going to have a legacy for many years to come.

"We have so many visitors seeking out locations all around Northern Ireland and we want to give them a chance to see pieces from the show that have never been seen before, that you don't really get a sense of until you get really close.

A fan poses on the Iron Throne

"When I walked in to the Dragon Skull Pit at the weekend and saw the first one ahead of me it was a 'wow' moment. Then I turned the corner and there was the reveal of a skull which must be the size of a small helicopter.

"The fact that they've all been used in the show and you're so close to them is incredible.

"This is the first licensed HBO product to come to the UK and we're thrilled to have it."

Some of the other exhibits on display

Jeff Peters, vice president of licensing and retail at HBO, admitted it was a huge project to pull the exhibition together, but it's been worth every minute of hard work.

"We're so proud of it," he said.

"The fans are so enthusiastic about it and they're going to want to keep on interacting with it long after airing is done.

"If you told me eight years ago I'd be standing here today I'd have been surprised, but we've know for a little while this is such a phenomenon that it's going to have a life of its own.

"Bringing the exhibition to Belfast was one of our big goals when we started working on it. We genuinely want to give back to this community which has given so much to the show. I think fans are going to love it.

"Game Of Thrones has been the gift that keeps on giving and we're really thrilled to be here right now.

"It's the perfect time and place for this exhibition."

The work of Clapton forms a big part of the exhibition and she admitted she never thought the show would have the worldwide appeal it now enjoys.

"When I got my first written script I thought: 'My God, this is epic, I really want to do this and I fought hard to get it'," she said.

"I was really excited for five minutes, then I thought: 'Oh my God, what have I committed to?' And then it really took off.

"But I'm delighted what I've created and that the beautiful craft can now be seen up close. There were no shortcuts."

Having pulled together thousands of costumes during the eight-season run, there's one that stands out for her.

"Daenerys' famous fur coat is a favourite and it certainly got attention," she said.

"It was the first time she was selfless in the series and did something not for personal gain. I wanted her to look like an angel and it worked very well.

"It was a difficult piece to make and, as with all the outfits, we made it from scratch.

"Looking back at the enormity of it, if every department had not been so committed it would have seemed flawed, but everyone gave their absolute best."