Around the globe, Star Wars fans went crazy last month when the long awaited seventh double-trilogy follow-up hit cinema screens and went off like the Millennium Falcon blasting into hyperspace.
If you’re a Star Wars fanatic like me, there’s also a certain wonder with visiting the destinations around the world where the Star Wars world was – and still is – being brought to life.
1. Finse, Norway
The ice planet of Hoth made its debut in the Empire Strikes Back, and it’s a place filled with deathly blizzards, creatures like wampas and tauntauns and quips like, ‘laugh it up, fuzzball!’
In the real world, Hoth can be found in the Hardangerjøkulen glacier, in a town called Finse, which rests on lake Finsevatnet (near Finland’s centre). Filming took place here back in the 80s and as you might’ve guessed, it wasn’t without its challenges.
2. Del Norte Coast, US
Yep, those huge, towering trees on the forest moon of Endor are real. And they’re actually Coast or California Redwoods. These whopping trees (though perhaps not the Ewok homes in their canopies) be found in the Del Norte County area of California, along the coast.
If you choose to go here, look for accommodation in the nearby towns and have a go at hiking, kayaking, mountain biking… or perhaps Empire defeating. Yub nub.
3. London, UK
Much of Star Wars’ studio scenes were filmed in the UK (didn’t you notice how everyone in the early movies had British accents?). So, it’s no surprise that ‘Star Wars Celebration’ is being held here from 07/15-17, 2016 (at the ExCel London Exhibition Centre).
At this massive 3-day event, fans will be able to meet the movie’s star actors (Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher both made appearances last year), view props and costumes, attend panels, and of course, participate in cosplay.
4. Tunisia, Africa
Although travelling to Tunisia is not really recommended right now, it’s worth noting that this is the place that became the planet Tatooine.
You can still see filmmaking remnants here, such as Luke Skywalker’s original igloo-ish home, the slave quarters of Mos Espa and the exterior of Mos Eisley… where you’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
5. Death Valley National Park, US
If you’re a die-hard original trilogy fan (and if you love the desert), Death Valley, which spreads across California and Nevada, is also worth a visit.
Here, you’ll be able to stand where R2-D2 and C-3PO once stood (and argued), follow in the footsteps of Jawas and head to Desolation Canyon, where certain Tusken Raiders were once seen jumping on their banthas.
6. Vienna, Austria
There’s much to do in Vienna while on holiday, but if you happen to be here early in 2016, the MAK Museum for Applied Arts is the place to get your Star Wars fix.
The Star Wars Identities exhibition is open until mid-April, and offers visitors the chance to explore character identities from the films as well as their own identities in relation to the Star Wars universe. Tickets are around 25 euros; book early so you don’t miss out!
7. Caserta, Italy
With its origins in 1752, the Palace of Caserta is impressive at the best of times – and it was this huge palace that served as the royal home of Queen Amidala (a.k.a. Padmé) in The Phantom Menace.
Today, you can visit the site and its gardens without any problems, but just make sure you buy a ticket – and don’t show up with a light sabre.
8. Lake Como, Italy
Further north in Italy, near Milan, you’ll also find the Villa del Balbianello next to Lake Como, which was used in Attack of the Clones as the setting for the Lake Retreat where Anakin and Padmé hide out and eventually tie the knot.
In real life, the villa is still a world-class wedding venue. If you’re here on holiday, be sure to partake in a tour, where you’ll be privy to secret passages and also an impressive private collection of ancient artefacts.
9. Orlando, US
Disney World is a top itinerary destination for any big movie buff and whether you’ve got kids or you’re a Star Wars kid at heart, Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida offers one cool exhibition – Star Tours: The Adventures Continue.
You can jump aboard a starspeeder and take a tour of the Star Wars galaxy, experience what it’s like to be in a starship battle, read extended stories set in various Star Wars destinations or even have a go at Jedi Training.
There’s just one question left, travellers – Is the force with you?