Winter is here. Well, almost.

Game of Thrones season 7 is closer than you’d think. Here’s everything we know so far: the air date for season 7, as well as everything there is to know about new cast members, trailers, spoilers from the set and the biggest questions surrounding the storylines of the show’s key characters. Don’t worry – we’ll flag proper spoiler territory when we get there – and this page will continue to be updated as more information is revealed.

When is Game of Thrones season 7 out?

Summer 2017.

Previous seasons have begun in March or April, but fans will be sad to learn that season 7 of Game of Thrones won’t be aired until summer next year. “We don’t have an air date yet, but this year will probably be a little bit later,” showrunners David Benioff and Daniel Weiss told UFC Unfiltered podcast in July. “We’re starting a bit later because at the end of this season, ‘Winter is here’ – and that means that sunny weather doesn’t really serve our purposes any more. So we kind of pushed everything down the line, so we could get some grim grey weather even in the sunnier places that we shoot.”

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, showrunners of Game of ThronesGetty Images

Have we seen a trailer?

Yes – kind of.

On December 4, HBO released a preview for 2017, which included three shots from season 7 of Game of Thrones. They showed three of the Starks – Jon, Sansa and Arya – in various locations, but didn’t reveal anything much at all, except perhaps that there’s even more snow in Westeros, Arya’s hair is a bit longer, and she’s now got herself a horse. You can see the shots about a minute into the clip below:

How many episodes will there be?

There’ll be seven episodes in Game of Thrones season 7, and an unconfirmed number in season 8.

We’ve known for a long while that there will no longer be 10 episodes per season in season 7. In June 2016 we found out there’d be seven episodes in season 7, but the number of episodes in season 8 still remains unconfirmed.

It was recently reported that Liam Cunningham (Ser Davos Seaworth) had revealed that there would be just six episodes in season 8, but HBO boss Casey Bloys has since said that the number of episodes in the final season of the series is not yet fixed.

“They’re still figuring out the shape of the season, what they want to do,” Bloys told Entertainment Weekly on January 14, speaking about showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff. “I’ll take as many as they want to do. If they give me eight, I’ll want 10. But it’s really up to them. They’ll let me know.”

How long will the episodes be?

Fans think each episode will be far longer than the normal 50 minutes.

Though there are only seven episodes in the new series, it’s rumoured they’ll be much longer because of what cast members Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) and Iain Glen (Ser Jorah Mormont) have been saying about the new season.

In a recent Facebook Live interview, Williams said, “We only have seven episodes this time, but we’re shooting for just as long, so there’s just as much content. And you guys will not be disappointed.”

Glen, meanwhile, recently told the Radio Times that though Game Of Thrones has only 13 episodes remaining, there are “15 hours” of content – which equates to around 69 minutes per episode.

The show’s producers have yet to say anything official about the length of episodes in season 7.

Is anyone joining the Game of Thrones cast for season 7?

Yes – loads of people.

1: Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter, Cloud Atlas) was reported to be joining the cast in a “significant” role for the next set of episodes. Given that the show has now gone far beyond where the books currently stand, it’s virtually impossible to tell who he’ll be playing, though you might imagine him as the hitherto unseen Archmaester of Old Town, where Samwell Tarly has just arrived to train as a Maester.

Jim Broadbent, who has reportedly been cast in Game of Thrones season sevenGetty Images

 

2: Tom Hopper, known for his roles as Billy Bones in Black Sails and Sir Percival in Merlin, is taking over the role of Dickon Tarly from Freddie Stroma. Stroma, known for his portrayal of Cormac McLaggen in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, appeared as the Dickon in season six, but commitments on ABC show Time After Time mean he’s unable to return to the part.  Dickon Tarly, by the way, is Samwell’s younger and far more combat-ready brother.

Tom Hopper, who will take up the role of Dickon Tarly in Game of Thrones season 7Getty Images

3: More recently, UFC fighter Conor McGregor was confirmed to have a role in the upcoming season of Game of Thrones, after UFC president Dana White revealed he’d been involved with the show. A Watchers On The Wall source says he will play a pirate on Euron Greyjoy’s ship, the Silence.

Conor McGregor is rumoured to have been cast in Game of Thrones season seven

4 & 5: At the end of November, Irish actors Brendan Morrissey (below left) and Rory Dignam (below right) were added to the cast. Morrissey’s CV says he will play ‘Fray’s Lord’ in one of Jeremy Podeswa’s episodes – a spelling mistake for Frey, perhaps? – while Dignam’s role is currently unknown. Dignam’s agent’s website calls it a “nice little supporting role”.

6 & 7: According to Thrones fansite Watchers On The Wall, there has been a casting call for two young characters: a 16-year-old girl with a northern accent who will take part in “a high-stakes scene with leading cast members”, and a 10-year-old boy in the same scene.

These scenes were filmed in September and October. The general consensus among commenters on the fan-site seem to think the two characters will be the new (and very young) leaders of Northern Houses who might be forced to pledge themselves to Jon Snow as King in the North, after their relatives fought against him in ‘Battle of the Bastards’. The girl could be Alys Karstark – the daughter of Rickard Karstark, whom Robb executed for killing two Lannister teenagers in season two – and the boy could be the son of Smalljon Umber, who betrayed Jon and sided with Ramsay in ‘Battle of the Bastards’. There are reportedly more child roles being cast.

7-15: A casting call reported by Watchers On The Wall  reveals there will be nine other characters cast for the new season, though their significance is hard to tell. They are: a general, a priest, a warrior, a gate guard, a city guard, a merchant, a ‘lovely lady’, a young lord and a lieutenant. The ones that look to be important to the show are the warrior (who sounds like a new Bronn-level figure), the gate guard (who has to be funny and charismatic), and the lieutenant, who WOTW have suggested will be a Dothraki character and who was on-set for three weeks across September and November.

16: Dickensian actor Joseph Quinn has been credited as a non-book character called Koner. Very, very little is known about who that is, though. Quinn is on the left in the below picture.

17: Penny Dreadful’s Paul Ward has also joined the cast, but even his character’s name is under wraps at the moment. You can see Ward on the right in the below picture.

18. Irish actor Philip O’Sullivan, who played Bishop Edmund in Vikings, is set to play a Citadel Maester – according to his agency, The Agency.

Who’s directing Game of Thrones season 7?

There are four directors for the next season – mainly series veterans, and all of them men.

Who: Jeremy Podeswa
Directing experience: Boardwalk Empire, The TudorsQueer as Folk.
Most memorable Thrones episode: Home, in which Jon Snow wakes up from death.

Jeremy Podeswa, who will direct episodes in Game of Thrones season 7Getty Images for TheWrap

Who: Mark Mylod
Directing experience: Entourage, The Royle FamilyShameless (UK and US),
Most memorable Thrones episode: No One, in which Arya and the Waif have their final faceoff.

Mark Mylod, who will direct episodes in Game of Thrones season 7WireImage

Who: Matt Shakman
Directing experience: Mostly TV, including House, The Good Wife, FX’s Fargo and a whole lot of cult sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Most memorable Thrones episode: N/A – there’s no Thrones on his resumé yet.

Matt Shakman, who will direct episodes in Game of Thrones season 7WireImage

Who: Alan Taylor
Directing experience: Thor: The Dark WorldTerminator GenisysSex and the City.
Most memorable Thrones episode: Valar Morghulis, in which Daenerys seals her suitor Xaro Xhoan Daxos inside a Qarth vault, and Arya discovers the powers of the Faceless Men.

Alan Taylor, who will direct episodes in Game of Thrones season 7WireImage

What are the cast saying about season 7?

On January 17, Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) told Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw that the new season is “exciting”, adding: “The end of this series is great. It makes me very excited for the series after! People should be very excited.” She’d previously told fans via Twitter to “start preparing yourselves now” because “shit gets real” in the new series.

In December, her on-screen sister, Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) told Entertainment Weekly: “What overall excites me about this season is that main characters are coming together and it feels like things are ramping up. It’s really exciting and all feels like it’s coming to a big conclusion.”

Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont) told Radio Times in December: “The world that is being created it’s just getting more and more extraordinary.”

Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) has promised “another battle that’s epic” in the new season. while Kit Harington (Jon Snow) expects it to be “very dark before it gets better” but has also said,“I feel like one of the safest people on Thrones now.”

Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) has said that if her character redeemed herself in the new season, “that would ruin it.”

**SPOILER ALERT – SET INFORMATION BELOW**

If you’re not a fan of spoilers, we’d advise you to stop reading here, because this is where the spoilers live.

What have we learned from the Game of Thrones season 7 set?

Gendry is back – but as part of the Brotherhood without Banners?

Last time we saw Joe Dempsie’s character, Gendry, he was rowing a boat from Dragonstone to the mainland. That was way back in season 3, but in season 7 it looks like he can finally stop rowing: he’s been spotted multiple times near sets in Northern Ireland, Spain and most recently (January 11), Iceland.

The fact he’s been at so many sets suggests he’ll be playing a pretty important role in the new series – it’s worth noting that Gendry is the last known Baratheon heir now, following the death of Stannis and his family.

Joe Dempsie as Gendry, rumoured to reappear in Game Of Thrones season seven

In the below Instagram post, Dempsie is hanging out in Iceland with Paul Kaye, who plays Thoros of Myr. (We saw Thoros briefly in season 6 when he and Beric Dondarrion ran into The Hound, but otherwise he – like Gendry – has been noticeably absent since season 3.) The fact that they’re together mirrors George R.R. Martin’s books, in which Gendry joins the Brotherhood without Banners and is knighted by Thoros’ best mate Beric.

Iceland is where the snow-blanketed beyond-the-Wall scenes are shot: the fact that Gendry and Thoros are here would suggest that The Brotherhood without Banners may have travelled north to help deal with the White Walkers. The other option is that winter has properly arrived in season 7, with heavy snow falling all over Westeros: the Brotherhood normally hangs out in the Riverlands, which is right in the middle of the Westeros map’s north-south split.

If Gendry has joined the Brotherhood in the series – and we can’t be totally sure yet – that’ll make his relationship with the Lord of Light slightly more complicated on-screen than it was in the books. This is because Gendry never went to Dragonstone in the books: it was Edric Storm, another Baratheon bastard, that Melisandre wanted to sacrifice to the Lord of Light. In the books, Gendry just stayed with the Brotherhood in the Riverlands, popping up for a cameo in A Feast for Crows to save Brienne (who notes he looks a lot like her beloved Renly).

By contrast, the HBO series has conflated Gendry and Edric Storm: in season 3 Gendry decides to join the Brotherhood and be their blacksmith, but they sell him out, exchanging him for two bags of Melisandre’s gold. If he’s now friends with Thoros of Myr again, this will mean he’s fled straight from a murderous Lord of Light sect (Melisandre, Stannis and co) back to the one that betrayed him (The Brotherhood without Banners). How can he trust them?

Big Spoiler!! Joe Dempsie (Gendry) and Paul Kaye (Thoros de Myr) are also in Iceland filming for S7! 😰

A photo posted by gotseason7_news (@gotseason7_news) on

Kit Harington is also in Iceland right now, by the way – he was spotted on the same day as Gendry:

Another photo of Kit Harington in Glacier Lagoon, Jökulsárlón, Iceland. Credits to @annelcortorreal

A photo posted by gotseason7_news (@gotseason7_news) on

Daenerys and Jon Snow meet for the first time

Yes, there’s visual evidence for this meeting of ice and fire. Several pictures taken in October in Zumaia, Spain, showed Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) and Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) filming on the Game of Thrones set, surrounded by Dothraki – and it looks like they’re all buddies, which is nice. Other photos on location showed Varys, Davos and Missandei there too.

Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington and Peter Dinklage on the set of Game of ThronesGC Images

Jon Snow has a fight with Theon Greyjoy

This was from the same location as the above picture. The ‘fight’ isn’t as serious as it sounds – in this shot Theon looks more like wheedling sidekick who’s committed a minor transgression than someone who’s about to get it in the neck.

Ser Jorah Mormont finds a greyscale cure

The last words Daenerys said to Jorah in season six were: “You swore to obey my commands for the rest of your life. Well I command you to heal yourself, and then return to me.” He’s returned to her, so unless he’s breaking his word again, it looks like he’ll find a cure for his greyscale.

Most of the show’s main characters will appear in a scene together

In October we learned that 17 of the show’s main characters had been spotted together in the Spanish town of Seville, near a location that has been earmarked by fansite Watchers on the Wall as the books’ Dragonpit. The real-life location is Italica, an ancient Roman amphitheatre near Seville, and the fictional Dragonpit it will represent is a bit of lore from the books: a huge arena, now in ruins, where the Targaryens used to keep their dragons before the family was ousted from Westeros.

Seville residents reported sightings of the actors behind Cersei Lannister, Ser Jaime Lannister, Maester Qyburn, Ser Gregor Clegane, Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, King Euron Greyjoy, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, Ser Jorah Mormont, Missandei, Varys, Theon Greyjoy, Jon Snow, Ser Davos Seaworth, Brienne of Tarth, Podrick Payne and Sandor Clegane. Below you can get a glimpse of what Italica looks like.

Lyanna Mormont is back!

Fan-favourite Bella Ramsay (Lyanna Mormont) will be in the new series too – she’s been hanging out on set with Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane).

 

What Game of Thrones storylines might we see in season 7?

1. Sansa Stark will clash with Jon Snow:

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly recently, Sansa actor Sophie Turner said, “She’s seemingly in control for the first time – and it really suits her. She’s kind of having a bit of a power trip. But she’s also becoming more insecure, because there are threats to the power that she holds.”

In December, Turner also told The Wrap something rather alarming about Sansa and Jon Snow. She began by saying they were “a perfect sort of collaboration because he’s the military man and she’s the politician. Together they’re quite a strong team as long as they listen to each other, and that’s their problem; they don’t quite work well together yet… I think she probably would like to be Queen of the North on her own.” Could the Starks be at each other’s throats in season 7?

Sansa Stark and Jon Snow, whose differences are expected to cause more tension in Game of Thrones season 7HBO

2. The White Walkers want to bring down The Wall

The White Walkers’ absence was one of the only significant omissions of the season six finale. The last time we saw them was when Bran was fleeing from the Three Eyed Raven’s lair, and Hodor died – at which point it looked like Bran had been cursed by the Night King. The assumption currently is that the Wall is going to come down – when Jon Snow left Dolorous Edd in charge as Lord Commander, he told him “Don’t knock it down while I’m gone” and Dolorous Edd replied, “I’ll do my best.”

A few things could cause the rupture of the Wall: perhaps the Night King will wield some kind of weapon to bring it down, or perhaps the brand he placed on Bran’s hand during his vision might counteract the magic of the Wall when they go back through the Wall – after all, it’s the same mark that broke the protections to the Three Eyed Raven’s cave.

The Night's King, expected to cause havoc in Game of Thrones season 7.HBO

3. The Horn of Joramun and ‘Dragonbinder’ will come into play

Below is the proposed cover of George R.R. Martin’s next book. It’s got a horn on it – an item that suggests one of two things because in the books, there are currently two significant horns at play.

In the books, Euron Greyjoy has a dragon horn, ‘Dragonbinder’, which he’s given to his book-only brother Victarion to take to Meereen – it has the power to enslave dragons, of which Daenerys has three.

Then there’s the Horn of Winter/Horn of Joramun, a mythical and enormous horn that can destroy the Wall. In the books Mance Rayder supposedly finds this horn and brings it to break the Wall down so the wildlings can pass – but after Melisandre burns it, Tormund reveals they never found the real horn, and the one Mance had was a fake.

Either way, the horn on the cover of The Winds of Winter is clearly important to the story of book six, and will probably help set events in motion for season 7 of the show too.

4. Daenerys’ dragons will find riders

Many fans believe Jon Snow is a future dragon rider, especially now it’s been confirmed that Lyanna is Jon Snow’s mother and – presumably – Rhaegar Targaryen is his father. This, confusingly, makes him Daenerys’ nephew, and that relationship may give him the same ease with dragons that Daenerys has.

There’s also a fan theory that Tyrion, like Jon Snow, is also part-Targaryen, and if this is true, then his calm interaction with Dany’s dragons in episode two of season six would make a whole lot more sense.

Tyrion Lannistre with Daenerys' dragons. Will he be revealed as a secret Targaryen in Game of Thrones season 7?HBO

5. Queen Cersei will face death

It looks like Jaime Lannister may kill Cersei, even though he’s the Queen’s brother and fathered three children by her. The death of their last surviving child, King Tommen, was Cersei’s fault, and her seeming lack of remorse could be what pushes Jaime to murder. Other theories suggest it could be The Hound who kills Cersei – or even Arya Stark, who has Cersei on her list. Speaking of which…

6. Arya will wear Walder Frey’s face and tick more names off her list

Back in Braavos, Arya told Lady Crane that she wanted to go west of Westeros to explore. After Lady Crane got done in and Arya killed the Waif, it looks like her plans have changed – or that she’s taking a little detour for now: in the final episode of season six, Arya popped up at the Twins to assassinate Walder Frey.

Thanks to the agency looking after actor David Bradley (United Agents), we’ve learned that he will be appearing in the seventh season: they’ve updated his CV to include season seven. Most fans assume this means Arya will wear Walder Frey’s face to get access to more Frey enemies, and possibly some of the other members of her list:

Who might be next? Well, she might head to the Riverlands to kill Melisandre, Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr – all supporters of the Lord of Light and all people who betrayed her mate Gendry – and then down to King’s Landing to take care of the rest: Cersei Lannister, Ilyn Payne and The Mountain.

7. Arya’s direwolf, Nymeria, may return

In the books, Arya has ‘wolf dreams’, in which her direwolf Nymeria has taken leadership of a vast group of wolves which roams the Riverlands causing havoc. Now she’s there – at the Twins – it’s looking like she might get to reunite with her wolf, which we last saw being chased off by Arya herself in season one (Nymeria had bitten Joffrey and was facing death). And if Nymeria shows up, hopefully she’ll last a little longer than Rickon’s and Bran’s did this season.

8. The Hound may fight his zombie brother, The Mountain

Hopefully Cleganebowl – the much-hyped fan hypothesis that he will fight his brother, Gregor Clegane (aka The Mountain) in an epic battle – will finally happen.

9. Melisandre will return to the Brotherhood Without Banners

Banished by Jon Snow – after it was revealed Melisandre had burnt Shireen alive – it’s likely this is where the mysterious priestess is heading. They’re all believers in the Lord of Light, and it’d be convenient for them all to be in one place if Arya’s going to come and murder them all…

10The Sand Snakes die, and Euron kidnaps a Greyjoy

Fansite Watchers On The Wall says the Spanish location of Cácares is, like Dubrovnik in Croatia, being used for King’s Landing for season 7. The actors behind Ellaria and Tyene Sand have been spotted together there, minus the actors behind the remaining two Sand Snakes, Obara and Nymeria.

The same site therefore speculates that all the Sand Snakes will meet their end in the new series. They had already reported that Euron Greyjoy (Theon’s uncle) is on team Cersei and will attack Dany’s fleet, kidnapping a Greyjoy and a Sand Snake or two, killing the other(s). Because only the actors behind Ellaria and Tyene have been spotted on location in the King’s Landing locations, WotW reasons that this is the pair that survived Euron’s attack. Rumour has it that they’ll be paraded through the streets as Euron’s captives, then killed by Cersei as revenge for killing her daughter Myrcella.

Pilou Asbæk as Euron Greyjoy in Game of ThronesHBO

As for the Greyjoy kidnapped by Euron, it looks like it’ll be Yara, given that we’ve already seen Theon alive and well on a beach with Jon Snow. There’s also the matter of actor Gemma Whelan’s hospitalisation in September, which fans have speculated is related to a sea-battle with her on-screen uncle Euron.