Movie maverick George Lucas’ beloved creation, Star Wars, has entertained audiences since the first film was released in 1977, and the legendary film franchise continues to this today, with Obi-Wan Kenobi set for release on Disney+ on May 27, 2022.
Star Wars fans tend to annually congregate online and in real life on May 4 to celebrate the date with like-minded people for major movie marathons, in addition to obtaining limited-edition merchandise released specifically for the occasion.
An iconic film such as Star Wars has shone a light on our planet’s most jaw-dropping locations as backdrops for three trilogies and countless spin-offs, leading many fans to make a pilgrimage to some of the filming locations.
Read on to find out more about some of the most iconic places used as real-life Star Wars sets.
Star Wars Filming Locations To Visit
Star Wars producers are known for scouting out Earth’s most wild and rugged locations possible to fit the otherworldly brief.
From punishingly inhospitable deserts to the deepest redwood forests, discover the Star Wars filming locations you can visit without needing a Millennium Falcon.
1. Death Valley National Park, U.S.
Stars Wars director and screenwriter George Lucas used California’s Death Valley to film scenes of the desert planet Tatooine in A New Hope.
Luas used the area between the Mojave Desert and the Sierra Nevada for the scene where Obi-Wan Kenobi meets Luke Skywalker, R2-D2 and C-3PO for the first time.
Over the past decade, a number of Star Wars cast and crew spent time in Ireland filming scenes for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
For example, Luke Skywalker’s remote sanctuary was located on Skellig Michael in County Kerry.
Numerous Star Wars locations used this North African country bordering both the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert.
Tunisia’s Hôtel Sidi Driss in Matmatat-Al-Qadimal was used as Luke Skywalker’s childhood home (the Lars homestead) in A New Hope.
Star Wars returned in the new millennium to shoot scenes for Attack of the Clones and Lucas also used various locations in Tunisia to film scenes of the desert planet Tatooine.
4. Grindelwald, Switzerland
The stunning vista provided by Grindelwald’s mountains has been used to steal the scenes of several Star Wars movies, including Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
The Star Wars crew also used these stunning snowy peaks for Princess Leia’s home planet Alderaan.
5. Tikal, Guatemala
Tikal is one of the largest of the ancient ruined cities of the Maya civilization and inspired Star Wars filmmaker Lucas during a visit.
The ruins were memorably used as the exterior of the Massassi Outpost, headquarters of the Rebel Alliance, in A New Hope.
6. Plaza de España, Spain
Lucas used this area of the Andalusian capital as the exterior for Theed on Naboo.
Star Wars fans should be able to easily recognize the beautiful architecture from the scene where Anaki and Padme walk through the plaza in Attack of the Clones.
7. Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
Known around the world over for its jaw-dropping limestone rock formations, this bay between Phuket and Krabi is a national marine park where tourists can explore caves and shallow waters via canoe.
Post production filming for 2005’s Stars Wars movie Revenge of the Sith took place here, the shots of which were later used for the arrival at the Battle of Kashyyyk, home of the Wookies.
Why is May 4 Star Wars Day?
Dr. Sandra Annett, Associate Professor in Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier Universiity, believes, like Star Wars fandom itself, the punning phrase ‘May the Fourth be with you’ “has been around since the late 1970s.”
She told Newsweek: “Within two years of the release of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977, it started appearing in newspapers, notably an ad in the London Evening News congratulating British PM Margaret Thatcher for her election on May 4th, 1979.
“The joke made its rounds in the following decades, appearing on television, in books and fanzines, and of course on the lips of punsters around the world.
“While the saying may have been around the block of carbonite a few times since the ’70s, the idea of celebrating May the Fourth as ‘Star Wars Day’ is more likely an internet-age phenomenon based in a burgeoning meme culture.”
She added: “I posted [to Facebook] my first May the Fourth image macro on May 4th, 2012: a picture of Obi-Wan Kenobi raising his lightsaber in noble surrender next to the pixelated, glowing-yellow letters of the famous quotation. ‘I can’t resist a meme that is also a pun that is also a geeky movie ref!’.
“Other fans were on the ball (or at least, on the Luke Skywalker Day Facebook group) as early as April 30, 2008.
“Within a few years, posting Star Wars image macros on May 4th became a digital tradition, and live events in celebration soon followed.
“The Toronto Underground Cinema in Canada is known for hosting one of the earliest live Star Wars Day events in 2011, which included a trivia competition, a costume contest, and screenings of fan-made Star Wars videos.”
From there, she believes, May the Fourth events spread, and not just at movie theaters and pub trivia nights, but in many communities.
She said: “For instance, Toronto’s Dovercourt House dance space began holding ‘Jedi Swing’ workshops and dances in 2011, where people in costume as Jedi Knights, Sith Lords, and assorted aliens danced the lindy hop and the charleston in a delightfully eccentric mash-up of historical periods.
“Star Wars Day events have continued into the 2020s, with annual marathon screenings, trivia nights, costume parties, dances and more held annually on May the Fourth.
Most of these events are what Fan Studies scholar Henry Jenkins would call “grassroots cultural production”: media-based texts and cultural events created by fans themselves, rather than organized by studios or marketing firms (though of course, there are official May the Fourth events too!)”
Dr. Annett consequently describes Star Wars Day, as “the perfect example of how one of the world’s largest and most enduring movie fan communities has migrated across media.”
She said: “From the films, print media, and in-person fan events in the 1970s and 1980s, to the online meme culture of the 2000s and 2010s, and back into the many diverse live and virtual events that continue in the 2020s, here’s hoping the Fourth will be with us always!”
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