Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan
Just one filiming location for the ninth installment of the Star Wars anthology has been revealed and it’s a familiar one. Wadi Rum – Jordan’s breathtaking, rust-colored sandy oasis – was previously used in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It’s rocky terrain and dry conditions make for the perfect backdrop to an alien world.
The film-makers of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens could have plonked their cameras almost anywhere in Iceland, such is the otherworldliness of its landscape. Rumors suggest the Star Wars crew focused its attention on the northeast Mývatn region, which is a good bet: home to a spectacular lake, the Krafla volcano, and more gurgling mud pots, steaming fumaroles and weird lava formations than you can shake a stormtrooper at.
The oh-so-huggable Ewoks once frolicked in California’s Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, but insiders say they’ve taken up residence amid the ancient trunks of Puzzlewood, deep in the Forest of Dean. It’s certainly a hallowed spot for fictional worlds, having inspired Lord of the Ringsauthor JRR Tolkien and Harry Potter creator JK Rowling, among many others. Walk, cycle or paddle your way through England’s oldest oak forest and look for a telltale pair of furry ears.
Skellig Michael, Ireland
It’s not hard to see why Skellig Michael was a filming location for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The atmospheric, wind-scoured rock, which is home to a Unesco World Heritage-listed monastery, is a perfect spot for a jedi to hide. The crossing to the island is choppy but worth it: catch a boat from the mainland between May and September.
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Tunisia supplied the sand for Star Wars sets of years gone by, but the city of Jakku in Star Wars: The Force Awakens were shot near Abu Dhabi. This city built on oil money boasts space-age malls, but director JJ Abrams was more interested in the restless, romantic dunes of the Rub’ al Khali (also known as the Empty Quarter) – one of the world’s largest and, oh yes, emptiest desert seas.
Head north from the remote village of Finse and you’ll end up on the ice-bound planet of Hoth, backdrop of arguably the greatest battle scene in Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (OK, OK: in reality, it’s the Hardangerjøkulen icecap). Finse, which is accessible only by train, bike or foot, is one of the best places in Norway for a pure Arctic-like wilderness experience. But remember that you’re more likely to spot a reindeer than a wampa.
Han Solo’s shaggy sidekick had to come from somewhere special; Guilin fitted the bill for Chewbacca thanks to its verdure-draped karst limestone mountains. These jagged rock forms are one of China’s most popular tourist attractions, and Guilin (aka the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk from Episode III – Revenge of the Sith) is a major gateway to the intriguing Guangxi region.