Hobbiton Evening Banquet Tour
With Sam being a bit of a Lord of the Rings fan, we decided to go for the Evening Banquet Tour rather than the standard tour at Hobbiton - a decision well made! Our evening started with a guided walk around Hobbiton while it was still light (and once other visitors who weren’t on the banquet tour had left).
The guides told us about the history of Hobbiton. Belonging to the Alexander family, the 1250 acre sheep and beef farm was scouted out by air to be the location of the Lord of the Rings films. After gaining agreement from the farmer, construction started in March 1999. Heavy earthmoving machinery was provided by the New Zealand Army who built a 1.5km road into the site - this obviously got the locals talking a lot! Thirty-nine Hobbit Holes were created with untreated timber, ply and polystyrene. Although the agreement was that the land would be returned to its initial state, bad weather delayed the removal of the set. In the months that followed, word got out that Alexander Farm was the filming location of Hobbiton, and the Alexander family realised they could make money from visitors. However, being temporary structures, they were falling apart.
When Peter Jackson asked if he could film The Hobbit Trilogy on the farm, the Alexanders said they could on one condition... that the buildings in Hobbiton were made permanent structures. As a result, each Hobbit Hole is now recognised as an official dwelling by the local council, and the family have been able to run a huge tourist attraction as well as their farm! The entire building process took two years, and only 12 days were spent on set for The Hobbit Trilogy (in comparison with three months for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy).
Originally, the oak tree that overlooks Bag End was cut down and transported in from nearby. Artificial leaves were brought in from Taiwan and individually wired onto the tree. Shortly before filming was due to begin, Peter Jackson decided he didn’t like the colour of the leaves, and so they were each individually sprayed whilst still attached to the tree. When the set was rebuilt for The Hobbit Trilogy, a new tree was made out of steal and silicon... it’s very realistic though!
The interiors of the Hobbit Holes weren’t filmed on location, so unfortunately they are just empty inside. We did get to step inside one though.
The Hobbit Holes are different sizes - this was so that the filmmakers could use perspective to make Gandalph look big and the hobbits look small.
When they were filming, Gandalph would be much closer to the camera than the hobbits. They actually used a pony rather than a horse as he was riding into Hobbiton to help with this illusion.
We loved all of the little details like the hobbit washing lines...
The view down to the bridge, the mill and The Green Dragon where we had dinner was beautiful.
It was great to see the party field too...
We then headed down to the mill and The Green Dragon Inn for dinner.
Dinner itself was a feast!
After dinner there was an opportunity to try on some hobbit outfits before picking up a lantern and making our way back through Hobbiton at night.
If you’re looking at visiting Hobbiton, we very much recommend the Evening Banquet Tour. Be sure to book ahead though - most of the people on our table had booked months in advance.