Many recent visitors to Belfast in Northern Ireland are looking for a bit of Game of Thrones magic, since it’s where many of the scenes are shot. Although Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor on the popular HBO series, is a native of the capital city, he understands the allure. "You’re literally in Westeros. Tourists are always amazed by it."
Nairn, who is also a DJ, has been traveling the world this past year on his Rave of Thrones tour, attracting sold out crowds from New York City to Sydney. "From Biloxi to bloody Nebraska," he adds. "But it’s great: You have EDM fans and Game of Thrones fans who come together. It’s incredibly humbling. At first I was a bit miffed that people were surprised that I could actually DJ, but it’s great. How I remember clubs—all these people from different walks of life coming together for a single purpose."
When asked about all the air miles he’s racking up, he’s quick to dispel some sort of rockstar myth. "Oh man, I don’t like traveling," he admits. "I like being there, but I don’t like all these airports and hotels. My friends think it’s galmorous, and they get on me for whining. I whine like a bitch, but I always try to keep myself busy by always working on some music or a computer game or something."
How does he make it through? "I now waste money on smoothies," he says. "I’m trying to get my health back on track." His other secret is a huge collection of noise-canceling headphones. "I have a pile of them in my bedroom. I have to have a pair with me," he explains. "There’s something wonderful about the Bose. But the Parrot Zik wireless are nice, too."
When he is back in his home town, we asked where he enjoys to relax, and here are his three favorite spots.
Coffee Shop: Coffee Den
Owned by gay guys, it’s located in the middle of the "gay village" on Union Street. "It’s a tiny one-off coffee shop, and an answer to Starbucks. The sandwiches are like the ones you’d make at home, for that reason I always find myself going there. The guy’s mum makes all the cakes and buns. It’s all homemade."
Favorite Hangout: Courtyard Cinema at White’s Tavern
"This is the oldest bar in Belfast at about 300 years old, and they have an outdoor courtyard where they host twice-monthly movie watching. It’s all completely free, and they have wings and popcorn and show Goonies and Ghostbusters and light stuff like that. It’s such an amazing atmosphere. With the weather in Belfast, there’s just enough cover to hide if it rains.
Restaurant That Never Fails: Zen
As Nairn explains: "It was our first Asian restaurant, and it brought Japanese food to Belfast. It hasn’t changed its decor since it opened and it still looks good: black, gold, orchids. It’s quite opulent and I always bring people there because it never fails. We have a lot of local "prodigies" (the popular buzzword for our Irish-fusion chefs), but I always go here when I have time off. The staff is super attentive, and I can rely on it."
Watch Kristian Nairn’s Rave of Thrones opening set in Sydney, Australia, below: