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Go Behind the Scenes of ‘The Hunger Games’

The road to Panem starts in North Carolina, where the first movie based on the bestselling book trilogy was filmed.

Ready to experience The Hunger Games ? You’ve come to the right place. The road to Panem starts in North Carolina, where the first movie based on the bestselling book trilogy was filmed. And with the release of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins’ prequel surrounding Coriolanus Snow’s rise from young man of means to cold-blooded tyrant – in 2020, there’s no better time to revisit the sites that stood in for District 12, the Capitol and the Arena.

This four-day itinerary, which loops from Charlotte to Asheville and back, leads to film locations, choice star hangouts and sites that connect to elements of the novel. It also notes training options to learn skills a Tribute could use.

Day 1: Charlotte, Hildebran & Asheville

hunger games tour north carolina

Head out of Charlotte and drive an hour northwest to Hildebran, where the Henry River Manufacturing Co. once turned out fine-combed cotton yarns. At the abandoned Henry River Mill Village , filmmakers found a ready-made set for the Mellark family bakery and the Everdeens’ shanty. You can satisfy your curiosity about the place with a tour  or visiting for a  special event  – or live like Katniss and  stay overnight in one of the (lovingly restored) cabins.

If you're only stopping at Henry River Mill Village briefly, then continue on I-40 to Asheville , where the cast and crew were based during much of the summer shoot. This Appalachian city does right by everyone from the rich and famous to bohemians, outdoorsmen and dreamers – little wonder it suited the Hunger Games cast. Enjoy lunch at  Laughing Seed Café , a vegetarian restaurant where the actors dined, and contemplate the choices for an active afternoon – or stay another day and you can do it all.

Craggy Pinnacle Hike

The North Fork Reservoir, where the Cornucopia scenes were filmed, is off limits to the public, but you can see the lake from the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, accessed at the Craggy Gardens visitors center on the Blue Ridge Parkway northeast of Asheville. Follow the law and stick to the established trail to minimize damage to the environment.

Lower Douglas Falls Hike

Filmmakers went to Pisgah National Forest’s Coleman Boundary area (aka Big Ivy) to shoot pre-Games scenes of Gale and Katniss. No guarantee this is the exact spot, but it’s a good place to channel the characters’ connection to the teeming wilderness. Please exercise caution and obey all rules and warnings posted at mountains, waterfalls, forests and parks.

Navitat Canopy Tour

Think of Rue soaring through the treetops as you attach the zip line harness for a three-hour eco-adventure at Pisgah’s edge. Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) made the trip three times (once at night and once with then-girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens), and six other Tribute players soared here too.

Return to Asheville, check into your hotel (the lead trio stayed at Hotel Indigo , others at the DoubleTree by Hilton Biltmore ) and set out for Wasabi , a favorite Tribute restaurant.

Note: Katniss spent years learning the skills that helped her survive. Begin your own training with wilderness survival courses and workshops at Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City (a little more than an hour west of Asheville).

Day 2: DuPont State Recreational Forest

Order breakfast from Early Girl Eatery , where Entertainment Weekly interviewed Hutcherson for its “Men of The Hunger Games ” spread (your server might know how he likes his eggs). Stop by Malaprop's Bookstore/Café , a quintessential indie bookshop that championed The Hunger Games trilogy well before the cast came by.

Drive to DuPont State Recreational Forest , a magnet for mountain bikers, hikers and nature lovers. In the dramatic landscapes of waterfalls, hideaway lakes and fishing streams, try to spot both Katniss’ pond and the place where Peeta camouflaged himself. Triple Falls , Bridal Veil Falls and the covered bridge at High Falls are among the visual highlights, and sharp eyes might spot black bear, deer or wild turkey. Sightings of tracker jackers and mutant wolves are unconfirmed.

An uncommonly cool mountain town waits at the end of the trek. Brevard features a compact downtown with irresistible shopping ( O.P. Taylor's , Theophilus , DD Bullwinkel's ), galleries ( Number 7 Arts ), culinary treats ( The Square Root ,  Bracken Mountain Bakery ) and Brevard Brewing (plus three more breweries within 4 miles). Brevard might be off the Panem radar, but you can bet Rue would be drawn to the music that rings out almost every night.

Day 3: Shelby & Charlotte

hunger games tour north carolina

About 80 miles east of Brevard, the unassuming town of Shelby might boast the world’s highest concentration of Hunger Games readers. The Reaping and Hob scenes were filmed in private warehouse space near the heart of town, which inspired the local library to use the book for its community reading program in 2012. If you have trouble picking out the buildings used in the film, or if you want to know where the paparazzi perched, ask somebody on Lafayette Street as you shop for Hob-worthy items – just as the crew did. For lunch, try Pleasant City Wood Fired Grill , which scored with the cast.

Allow 50 minutes for the drive to Charlotte , plus time to check in at your lodging (several of the stars stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte , crew members at the Dunhill Hotel ). If you’re anything like the actors, you’ll be drawn to the lively NoDa – as in North Davidson Street – neighborhood. Follow their example with dinner at Cabo Fish Taco or Boudreaux’s Louisiana Kitchen , and top off the night at Amélie's French Bakery , where Woody Harrelson joined regulars for a round of chess and whose delicacies even made an appearance in the train sequence.

Day 4: Charlotte

Caesar Flickerman would thrill to Uptown Charlotte’s modern architecture and urban sheen. Yet even in the shadow of corporate towers and art-filled plazas, the Capitol’s flamboyant fashionistas drew gapes as costumed extras entered Knight Theater for filming. The theater, Charlotte Convention Center and other venues might not be routinely accessed, but depending on events, you might get inside. Visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame , where it will dawn on you that hovercrafts have the same kind of seats as racecars.

The featured attraction on today’s itinerary is the U.S. National Whitewater Center . Imagine the Gamemakers creating the world’s largest recirculating whitewater river, a canyon to cross and a 46-foot rock to climb. Tributes could actually train here – the center offers extensive skills and survival classes. On a visit to ascend the wall, Woody Harrelson offered a glimpse of Haymitch’s capabilities in the Arena. Refresh and re-nourish at the River’s Edge Bar & Grill .

Ends: 6/15/2024

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Henry River Mill Village

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Visit This Abandoned Village In North Carolina For A Guided Tour Unlike Any Other

hunger games tour north carolina

Robin Jarvis

More by this Author

For the better part of three decades, North Carolina’s infamous Henry River Mill Village sat empty, decaying under the wings of Mother Nature’s loving arms. Stories about the town flooded the internet, including a piece we wrote that describes some of the notorious paranormal occurrences that have been reported in this abandoned village in North Carolina.

hunger games tour north carolina

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This Fascinating North Carolina Furnace Has Been Abandoned And Reclaimed By Nature For Decades Now

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hunger games tour north carolina

You can learn more at the Henery River Mill Village website .

Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours are offered on select by phone call only. Learn more, and purchase tickets from the unofficial Hunger Games Tour website .

If you are interested in the restoration of this little village, then you will be happy to know the Magnolia Network has picked up the project to film it. You can follow along with the progress as they envision something completely restored. Out with the old and in with the new. Check out this trailer from the Magnolia Network:

Address: 4255 Henry River Road, Hickory, NC, 28602

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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What movies were filmed in North Carolina?

With beautiful weather and diverse landscapes, many movies have been filmed in North Carolina. Here are a few:

  • The Green Mile
  • Patch Adams
  • The Hunger Games
  • Talladega Knights
  • Forest Gump

These and others can be found on our list of 15 movies filmed in North Carolina , and you can also visit these famous sites yourself. 

What are some of the best abandoned places in North Carolina?

There are a few really good abandoned places in North Carolina. Here are our top three favorites:

  • The Abandoned Land of Oz - a Wizard of Oz theme park
  • Ghost Town in the Sky - an abandoned-themed park
  • An abandoned neighborhood

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Visit the North Carolina Locations Where 'The Hunger Games' Was Filmed

Make a vacation by visiting the real-life spots you saw on the big screen.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) in The Hunger Games.

— -- “ Good Morning America ” took a trip to the real-life spots that brought the fictional world of “The Hunger Games ” to the big screen.

Panem serves as the center of the movie’s fictional dystopia but the road to Panem starts in North Carolina. It is in that southern state where the first movie based on the bestselling “Hunger Games” book trilogy was filmed.

“GMA” has the seven-stop road map to all the “Hunger Games” action in North Carolina, counting down from seven to one.

STOP 7: Henry River Mill Village, or “District 12”

PHOTO: For its On Location Vacation series, "GMA" is taking you to the North Carolina locations where "The Hunger Games" was filmed.

A ticket on the “Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours” gets you access to this abandoned cotton mill village, including the exact site where Effie Trinket entered the district.

PHOTO: For its On Location Vacation series, "GMA" is taking you to the North Carolina locations where "The Hunger Games" was filmed.

You can also visit Katniss’s house and watch as actors recreate iconic “Hunger Games” scenes.

PHOTO: For its On Location Vacation series, "GMA" is taking you to the North Carolina locations where "The Hunger Games" was filmed.

“Families come together to do it as an experience together,” tour guide Leigh Trapp told ABC News. “Thousands are coming every year."

STOP 6: Dupont State Forest , or “The Arena”

PHOTO: For its On Location Vacation series, "GMA" is taking you to the North Carolina locations where "The Hunger Games" was filmed.

Take a hike to Triple Falls and tour guides will show you where Katniss rescued Peta, and let you take a swim in the same water spot where the cast and crew would “take a dip … every break they had,” according to tour guide Tammy Hopkins.

STOP 5: Navitat Canopy Adventures

PHOTO: For its On Location Vacation series, "GMA" is taking you to the North Carolina locations where "The Hunger Games" was filmed.

This is the Asheville, North Carolina, adventure spot where “Hunger Games” star Josh Hutcherson ziplined through the mountains during breaks from filming.

STOP 4: The Hotel Indigo

PHOTO: For its On Location Vacation series, "GMA" is taking you to the North Carolina locations where "The Hunger Games" was filmed.

If you wanted to see “Hunger Games” stars Jennifer Lawrence , Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson off-set, this boutique hotel was the place to be. The actors all called Asheville’s Hotel Indigo home during the three-month shoot.

STOP 3: Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe

Lawrence, Hemsworth and Hutcherson were also spotted perusing books at Malaprop’s , a local bookstore located on Haywood Street in Asheville.

STOP 2: Wasabi Japenese Restaurant

When the stars were not shopping or sleeping, they might be at this restaurant, also in Asheville. Wasabi was the trio’s go-to sushi spot during their time in North Carolina.

STOP 1: The Southern Kitchen and Bar

A way to unwind after your “Hunger Games” tour is to visit The Southern , an Asheville restaurant with live music and outdoor seating.

Interested in another movie tour? Click HERE to see the New York City spots feature in "The Devil Wears Prada."

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Henry River Village: Hunger Games Film Location

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Henry River Village, NC

Great news! A ghost town near Asheville is coming back to life. The Henry River mill village has been abandoned since the 1970s. It came back to life briefly for the filming of the blockbuster movie The Hunger Games in 2011, serving as Katniss' home of District 12. Located about an hour east of Asheville along I-40 (near Morganton ), the village is open for guided tours, special events, and in 2021 you can now stay in the fully restored house #12! (See below) Future plans include a restaurant, museum, and more restored homes as vacation rentals.

The Hunger Games Film Location, Henry River Village NC

The village Company Store (pic above) served as Mellark's Bakery in The Hunger Games. The movie, which stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, and Woody Harrelson, filmed nine days in Henry River. One of the mill houses was sacrificed during an explosion for the movie. While you can see parts of the village from the main road, come for a closer look during special events below.

Henry River Village Store

The Henry River Preservation Fund non-profit group is holding events and giving tours to raise money to preserve the village. The store (pic above) and a house or two will be open for a peek inside. There are plans to transform the store into a restaurant that will feature recipes from the village!

  • Tours : Guided tours year-round, see  website for info & tickets .
  • Hunger Games Tours: Special film location tours on select dates. Go to their website for info & tickets . 
  • Weddings/Special Events : Have a one-of-a-kind wedding in this historic ghost town! 

New for 2021: Vacation Rental

  • Stay in the newly renovated 1905 mill house with pieces, fixtures, and details that reflect the era.
  • The house is divided into 2 units that each include a queen bed, two twin beds, a kitchenette with microwave and refrigerator, and 2 full bathrooms.  
  • Rental of both units on the same dates allow for full house occupancy by guests. Go to their website for more. 

Henry River Village Vacation Homes

See more things to do in Burke County .

Calvin Reyes - Henry River Mill Village

Calvin Reyes and his family purchased the 72-acre village in fall 2017. They plan to continue converting the homes into vacation rentals and will open a restaurant in the former store. He loves to share the history of the village with visitors. We are lucky that he is saving not only the buildings but also the stories of residents that lived and worked there. Items found in the homes are being collected for the on-site museum in house 16, the home of heroine Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games.

Directions: Henry River is about 75 miles east of Asheville. Take I-40 East to Exit 119. Turn right and head south about a half-mile. GPS Address: 4255 Henry River Road, Hickory. Near the town of Valdese .

Henry River Mill Village, NC

Henry River History

The Henry River Mill Village (or "District 12") was built as a planned community with its own textile mill, dam, water and fire-protection systems, and company store. Today most of the village's original buildings remain sited along a small gorge of the Henry River. The abandoned homes are dangerous inside due to collapsing floors. Stay on the main road since the area is closed to visitors except for events and Saturday visits.

In 1904 Michael Erastus Rudisill laid out the mill and village on a 1500-acre tract, chosen for its hydropower potential. The mill was incorporated as the Henry River Manufacturing Company and manufactured fine cotton yarns. In 1905, a 30-ft. reinforced concrete dam was constructed with a three-story brick mill building. The residential area of the village consisted of approximately 35 small worker's cottages. Twenty are standing today. The workers lived in boarding houses or workers' cottages built by the company, which were leased at nominal fees.

Since the loss of the main mill building, the centerpiece of the village today is the two-story brick company store building. This building served as a mill office with the upper floor used as a school room and for church services from 1907-1917. The Henry River Mill originally ran on water power. In 1914, a steam plant was installed and then in 1926, the mill was converted to electric power. In its early years, the mill operated 4,000 yarn-making spindles. By the time it shut down in the late 1960s, the mill had 12,000 spindles and produced fine combed yarn for lace. The mill was closed for several years and was purchased in 1976. Equipment and materials were stored in the mill building when it burned in 1977. Since then, the abandoned town has been slowly deteriorating. Fortunately, the new owners have great vision and plan to preserve as much of the village as possible.

The Hunger Games Film Locations

District 12 Hunger Games

The Hunger Games takes place in an unidentified future time period after the destruction of North America, in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. District 12, where the book begins, is located in the coal-rich region that was formerly Appalachia.

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Immerse Yourself In The Hunger Games Films At This East Coast Forest

Wax figure of Katniss in the forest

With the upcoming release of the Hunger Games prequel "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" on November 17, 2023, there's never been a better time to visit some of the filming locations for the original Hunger Games movie. The first fantasy flick was filmed entirely in North Carolina, with Dupont State Park serving as the backdrop for a few of the film's iconic scenes with protagonist Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, the other tribute from District 12.

Dupont State Park features 10,000 acres of protected forests and 80 miles of scenic roads and trails that weave throughout, transporting fans to the gorgeous yet haunting wilderness of Panem, the dystopia that Katniss calls home. If it's specific filming locations you're after, there are three to focus on: Triple Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Camp Summit Road near the old airstrip. While you won't find any mockingjays or tracker jackers in these woods, you will find towering pine trees, fishing streams, and a stunning waterfall or two.

Triple Falls

Triple Falls is a popular tourist area for its picturesque view of three cascading waterfalls , totaling a 120-foot drop over the rocks into the river below. It's also the filming location for the scene where Katniss is trying to track down Peeta and searching for clues along the river bank. Eventually, she finds him resting after a serious injury, camouflaged in the terrain by mud and leaves. From this moment on, the pair become an unstoppable team in the arena and beyond.

The specific filming area is located along the river in between the base of Triple Falls and the Station Road Highway bridge. Look for the Hooker Road access area off Staton Road, and then walk across the bridge and take the steps down to the Little River. Do be careful, as the rocks tend to get slippery in this area. For your safety, keep in mind that climbing on the waterfalls is not allowed, says the visitors information center.

Camp Summit Road and Bridal Veil Falls

Another memorable moment is the forest fire, where Katniss outruns the flames and fireballs enclosing her path. This harrowing scene was filmed near an old airstrip on Camp Summit Road. During filming, steel pipe "trees" were filled with gas to fuel real fire. Thankfully, the native forest fared just fine. Today, it looks like any other part of the woods.

The fire scene ends with Katniss running into a pool of water , cooling the fresh burn on her leg after a brush with the flames. This part of the scene was filmed at Bridal Veil Falls, which can be accessed via the viewing area half a mile off Bridal Veil Falls Road. Fun fact: During filming, the water area was low, so water had to be pumped into the pool to create a little movie magic.

From Asheville, Dupont State Forest is a 50-minute drive south on the I-26E. Beyond the mountains and forest, there are more charming filming locations scattered around North Carolina. In Hildebran, for example, fans will recognize the abandoned Henry River Mill Village that became the set for District 12, including the bakery where Peeta throws Katniss a piece of bread in a pre-games flashback . To get the most out of your time in the Hunger Games universe, the  North Carolina Travel & Tourism Board suggests a four-day loop around Charlotte and Asheville on a self-guided tour. Feel free to leave the bow and arrow at home, though.

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Project 543 tells the story of unique spots across North Carolina we hope will become some of your favorite places. Why 543? Because that’s the number of miles from Manteo, on the coast, to Murphy, in the mountains, and is traditionally considered to be the width of our state. The entries in this project are in no particular order, and we’ll add to them each week. Check in often to find inspiration for your next trip, or start planning today at VisitNC.com .

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Experience ‘The Hunger Games’ where the movie was filmed

When the filmmakers creating The Hunger Games started looking for settings that could match the unspoiled wilderness and the Capitol’s futuristic glamour needed for the movie, North Carolina was their only choice. The film was shot on locations and soundstages in the central and western part of the state. Hunger Games fanatics can take travel cues from the sites that frame the action, the stars’ favorite off-duty spots and attractions that District 12 denizens would love. From the big-city sites in Charlotte that doubled as the “Capitol” to taking a survival class at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, North Carolina offers the ultimate Hunger Games   fan experience .

Hildebran, North Carolina

Hildebran, NC

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, NC

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Cedar Mountain, North Carolina

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Barnardsville, NC

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Hunger Games

By cat kessler.

Watch & Win: Free Hunger Games Survival Getaway

The curtain went up on Asheville with the premier of the highly anticipated film, The Hunger Games , which opened in spring 2012. Shot on location in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, the movie showcases both the area's natural beauty and—through the lives of the young stars on set—the wealth of exciting things to see & do around town.

Behind The Scenes—Arena Locations:

Summer Home to the Stars

Where they stayed.

Jennifer Lawrence and her celebrity costars slept in the luxurious condos atop the Hotel Indigo , right in the heart of downtown. They awoke each morning to a beautiful view of downtown Asheville before running off to a busy day on set. Other cast and crew also stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton Biltmore .

What They Did

In their free time, cast and crew explored Downtown Asheville and local attractions:

  • Ziplined at Navitat Canopy Adventures and Asheville Zipline Canopy Adventures;
  • Whitewater rafted with Wildwater Rafting ;
  • Browsed some titles at Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe ;
  • Enjoyed a drink on the patio at The Southern, a chic downtown bar.

Where They Ate

Josh Hutcherson brought Journey 2 co-star Vanessa Hudgens to dinner at the Lexington Avenue Brewery, while actors cast as the Tributes enjoyed sushi at Wasabi . Woody Harrelson, a long-time vegan, enjoyed the fresh vegetarian creations at the Laughing Seed Cafe .

Survival of the Fittest

In the arena, Katniss, Peeta and the other tributes must fend for themselves as they fight to survive. Brush up on your own outdoor skills in Asheville.

  • Hike: Prepare yourself for rugged terrain (and possible encounters with trackerjackers) with some time on the trail. See where the arena scenes were filmed at Dupont State Forest in Transylvania County, journey to District 12 for the Big Ivy trail in the Coleman Boundary or check out another area hiking trail .
  • Forage: At home on the Seam and in the arena, Katniss lived off of what she could find in the forest. Learn to tell the good from the deadly on a private foraging trip with Alan Muskat, Asheville's very own Mushroom Man .
  • Hone: Sharpen your survival skills with a workshop in friction fires or-Prim's favorite-edible and medicinal plants. The Nantahala Outdoor Center offers scheduled classes and private instruction.
  • Explore: Katniss cherished her time in the forest with Gale, and you can too when you discover the variety of adventures that await you.
  • Self-Medicate: When all else fails, do what Haymitch does and turn to some liquid comfort. Asheville Distilling Company produces pure corn moonshine , and their distillery is open for tours.

Images by Murray Close courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment, and by Navitat Canopy Adventures.

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Take A Trip Through The Real 'Hunger Games' Set In North Carolina

You don't need a theme park to experience the magic of "The Hunger Games" when you can just head to the the set yourself. 

Now that "The Hunger Games" has whet people's appetite at the box office , people want more.

Skip ahead and take the tour>

A sequel isn't due out in theaters for more than another year, so fans naturally want to do the next best thing—visit the set. 

North Carolina hears you.

N.C.'s Division of Tourism came up with a four-day self-guided tour for diehard "Hunger Games" fans guiding people from the Hunger Games' Capitol to Asheville and back again.  

Day 1 Imagine you’re Effie, leaving the decadence of the Capitol (Raleigh), dropping by District 12 (Hildebran), then landing in a fun-loving place that makes film stars feel at home (Asheville).

Day 2 Having eaten as well as the Tributes during training, prepare to enter the Arena (DuPont State Recreational Forest between Brevard and Hendersonville).

Day 3 Journey from the heart of District 12 (Shelby) to the belly of the Capitol (Charlotte) and sense the atmospheric change from small-town warmth to urban cool.

Day 4 Explore the Capitol (Charlotte), which turns out to be Haymitch’s kind of place. (They're talking about the moonshine.)

Can only take a day trip out? They offer up 12 places to re-live the action , too. 

N.C. encourages people to visit the town of Hildebran, home to "Hunger Games" filming for District 12. However, travelers be warned, the small town is private property. 

Still, others can shell out money for tours provided by Hunger Games Fan Tours company. (This is real.) The tours are organized by Leigh Trapp , who have held previous fan tours for “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” fans, and Tammy Hopkins ranging from $79 to $389 from April through September. 

Tours take fans throughout DuPont State Recreational Forest complete with a “sponsor”—er guide—to see sites used in the film. The more expensive trip offers archery lessons, Ziplining through tree tops and camo-face painting among other wilderness activities.

Can't afford to take the trip to North Carolina? We have you covered. Take the four-day trip through "The Hunger Games" set in a few minutes. 

Welcome to Hildebran, North Carolina, home of District 12. Some of the houses here housed Katniss, Peeta and Gale's families in the Seam.

hunger games tour north carolina

Here's the District 12 train station where the reaping was filmed about an hour away in Shelby, N.C.

hunger games tour north carolina

Welcome to the Capitol. Really. The film's Capitol shots were filmed in Charlotte.

hunger games tour north carolina

The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center's Knight Theater was home to Capitol interviews where Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) spoke with the tributes before the games began.

hunger games tour north carolina

"The Hunger Games" stars hung out in Ashville come night time.

hunger games tour north carolina

Some of the stars popped up at downtown bar The Southern ...

hunger games tour north carolina

... and stayed the night. Jennifer Lawrence and costars stayed in spacious condos at the Hotel Indigo.

hunger games tour north carolina

It looks very nice.

hunger games tour north carolina

Much of the actual "Hunger Games" were filmed in DuPont State Forest.

hunger games tour north carolina

You can hike or follow bike trails in the woods where the 74th Hunger Games take place.

hunger games tour north carolina

Here are the Triple Falls Katniss ran across in the film ...

hunger games tour north carolina

to get to fellow District 12 tribute Peeta.

hunger games tour north carolina

If wandering around the woods isn't for you, there are always the guided tours ...

hunger games tour north carolina

Where you can learn to shoot a bow like Katniss ...

hunger games tour north carolina

... and how to use a slingshot.

hunger games tour north carolina

They'll even zip line you through some of the trees. Actor Josh Hutcherson zip lined at Navitat in Asheville.

hunger games tour north carolina

We suggest leaving the action to the stars and giving the film a viewing.

hunger games tour north carolina

Already seen the film?

hunger games tour north carolina

Check out five major plot points the film left out>

hunger games tour north carolina

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Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours

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Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

Chasing snakes and ghosts at Henry River Mill Village, the abandoned town also known as District 12 in ‘The Hunger Games’

The site's new owners hope to build on its Hollywood connection to create a cultural hub in western North Carolina

By Roadtrippers

On a sunny day in early September, I voluntarily visit District 12. Of the 13 districts in Panem, the post-apocalyptic world of Suzanne Collins’ hugely popular Hunger Games series, District 12 is the smallest and poorest. Most of the district’s less than 8,000 residents work in Appalachia-like coal mines and if I close my eyes, I can picture them: Covered in detritus from a long day underground, they slowly shuffle back to their ramshackle homes. 

Katniss Everdeen, one of the district’s teenagers, is on her way into the woods to hunt, a necessity in a district that Collins describes as a place “where you can starve to death in safety.” Other residents hang their heads and avert their gray eyes, conditioned by years of exploitation and oppression by the corrupt Capitol. 

District 12—and Katniss Everdeen—may not exist, but in its heyday, the Henry River Mill Village was not much different than its silver screen counterpart. Located near Hildebran, North Carolina, in the foothills between the mountains and the piedmont, the village was home to a cotton mill for the first half of the 20th century. When the mill closed in the 1960s, the modest homes and buildings were abandoned. In 1977, a lightning strike started a fire that destroyed the mill completely. 

The village originally had 35 houses for workers.

Like other relics of a different time, the Henry River Mill Village may have crumbled completely if Hollywood hadn’t come to Hildebran in 2011 in search of a home for its Hunger Games heroine. After the first of four Hunger Games movies premiered in March 2012, fans from all over the world began flocking to western North Carolina in search of the village that doubled as District 12.  

In October 2017, Calvin Reyes and his family purchased the property and formed the Henry River Preservation Fund . They plan to renovate, restore, or rebuild most of the village’s buildings with funds raised from sanctioned tours, events, and film and photo shoots.

Snakes and bottles

My tour begins inside of a temporary trailer in the parking lot of the village’s company store, which functions both as an office and a makeshift gift shop. The air conditioning is a welcome respite—it’s early in the day and late in the summer, but the heat and humidity are already oppressive. 

I’ve read the books and seen the movies, but I’m not a Hunger Games super fan (a separate company offers an “ unofficial fan tour ” of the site, which includes archery practice). I’m not worried when Taylor Edwards, Henry River Mill Village’s site director, warns me that his tour will include “more history than Hollywood.” During the hour-long tour, Edwards, who is in rehearsals for a local production of the rock musical Hair , ends up providing a perfect mix of both. 

A colorful wall inside one of the homes.

Behind Edwards’ desk, Dwight—Henry River’s self-proclaimed archeologist—fastens snake guard shields over his shins (a non-poisonous snake recently surprised visitors inside of Katniss’ house). Dwight’s grandfather worked at the mill and whenever the weather is amenable, he suits up and heads to the banks of the river. He pierces the land with his pitchfork, looking for bottles and other buried treasures. He recently found a bottle near his grandparent’s former home stamped with the year they got married. 

Edwards says they are keeping anything of historical value for a future museum, but hope to begin hosting bottle sales to unload the rest. Dwight’s passion for bottles—and the village’s dump—is seemingly endless. “He digs everywhere ,” Edwards says.  

A dam and doogaloo

Most everything Dwight unearths is from the early 1900s; between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, not much happened along the banks of the Henry River. Land wasn’t worth much if it couldn’t be farmed. “This is really, really, really bad farmland here at Henry River,” Edwards says. “It’s very steep, and large scale farming just doesn’t work.”

The Civil War broke up the South’s agrarian slave system and ushered in a new age of industrialization. “All of a sudden this goes from being a dead place to boom,” Edwards says. “It’s the perfect place to build a mill.” 

Sensing an opportunity, two prominent North Carolina families, the Aderholdts and the Rudisills, joined forces and purchased 1,500 acres of land surrounding the river. In 1905, they established the Henry River Manufacturing Company, the centerpiece of which was a three-story brick mill building. The village included 35 worker houses, a boarding house, a bridge, a dam, auxiliary storage buildings, and a company store.

"Doogaloo" coins were only good in the company store.

The mill turned raw cotton into spools of yarn used in embroidery and fine lace. Because the Aderholdts and Rudisills owned much of the surrounding land, the workers were isolated. The business was “the only game in town,” Edwards says, and 450 workers lived just up the hill from the river in small houses provided by the company. They were paid in “doogaloo” coins, a special currency accepted only at the company store. 

The store functioned as a de facto downtown and once included a post office, bank, church, and school. Edwards likens it to Target: “What can you get at Target? Everything. From Kleenex to clothing to Clorox to coal,” he says. “That was the company store.”

The building was constructed quickly with sun-baked mud bricks made from the banks of the Henry River on a foundation of river rock. Although the bricks are chalky and brittle, the building has survived more than a century of lightning strikes (including at least two direct hits), hurricanes, and tornadoes. The river’s dam, once used to generate power for the mill, is currently strewn with fallen trees and debris from a recent flood, the county’s third worst on record.

The company store and the bakery from The Hunger Games

District 12

In 1975, Wade Shepard purchased 72 acres of the property, including the 20-plus buildings that were still standing. The 1977 fire destroyed any plans he had to revitalize the mill. When the village was chosen to represent District 12, the production company partially renovated house number 16 to use as the residence of the Everdeen women: Katniss, her younger sister Prim, and their mother. It’s the only building visitors can safely enter.

The company store became a bakery, owned by the family of District 12’s other Hunger Games tribute, Peeta Mellark. Reyes understands the movie’s continued appeal and ability to draw crowds. He has plans to turn the store into a restaurant, but for now it still looks as it did in the film (when the original “Pastries” sign was stolen, it was quickly replaced with a replica).

The Everdeen house.

About half of the workers’ houses are still standing in various states of decay. The mill village was separated by class; workers ranked the lowest and lived in duplex-style houses with a living room in front, a kitchen in back, and a bedroom on the second floor. “If you thought the house was small, joke’s on you—you only get half of it,” Edwards says. Five of the slightly larger homes were inhabited by supervisors. High on a hill across the river looms the grand former Rudisill mansion. 

When I peek through open windows I see couches, fireplaces, and piles of debris. Paint peels off surprisingly colorful walls and a rusty sign posted above the front door of one structure advertises used furniture and appliances for sale. A giant cistern, once used to protect the mill from fire before a sprinkler system was installed, is now fenced off to protect visitors. An ornate turn-of-the-century fire hydrant rises from the ground like a sculpture dedicated to the area’s industrial past. 

The kitchen in house 16.

Macabre mill  

It was still Shepard’s private property in 2012, when fans of the movie began to appear in droves. “People would come out here and depending on [Shepard’s] mood he’d say, ‘Yeah, you can walk around,’ or, ‘No, get out,’” Edwards says. Not much time passed before Shepard put the village up for sale. “I still consider it a good investment,” he told CNN in 2012. “If I was [younger] I wouldn’t be selling.” 

Shepard died in 2015, and in 2017, Reyes discovered the village. “I called my mom immediately and said, ‘I love this place. We have to buy it,’” he told the Citizen Times . “It needs to be saved and brought back to life.”

The village hosts events all year, including Santa meet-and-greets in December, Mill Village Fest in May, and haunted tours in October. On October 26, the village will host a Halloween party called “Boos & Brews,” featuring a costume competition, flashlight tour, a beer graveyard, food trucks, a dance party, and spooky storytelling with the paranormal group Soul Sisters. 

A turn-of-the-century fire hydrant.

A lot of the “history” relayed on other ghost tours is suspect, but Henry River Mill Village doesn’t need to embellish. Over the past century, “actual people were murdered or kidnapped here and countless people lost fingers in the mill,” Edwards says. “ A lot of our history is actually quite macabre.” 

In addition to the restaurant, Reyes hopes to restore the homes and make them available for overnight stays. But the first step is to pick up where Hollywood left off. Construction on house 16 is set to begin soon, with plans to turn it into a museum. “We want this to be a hub in North Carolina,” Edwards says. 

Historic tours of Henry River Mill Village are offered Thursday through Monday at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. Boos & Brews takes place on Saturday, October 26 at 6 p.m., rain or shine.

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Henry River Mill Village - District 12 Of 'The Hunger Games' - Is Now A Historic Place

hunger games tour north carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — What would the folks in the Capitol think? District 12 is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Henry River Mill Village, which served as the home of the three main characters from the original "The Hunger Games," was named a historic place last month and announced by state officials earlier this week. It's a designation that the new owners sought for the 72-acre (29-hectare) property because they "wanted to be the ones who got this property the recognition it deserves," said Calvin Reyes, who bought the village in 2017 with his mother and stepfather.

When "The Hunger Games" was filmed in North Carolina in 2011, the mill village served as the home of Katniss, Peeta and Gale. But when Reyes talks about the proper recognition, he's not referring merely to the filming of a box office smash.

"People come for 'The Hunger Games,' but they stay for the history," Reyes said in a phone interview Thursday.

That history began about 1905 when the Henry River Manufacturing Co. established the mill in Hildebran in western North Carolina, about 70 miles (112 km) east of Asheville. The mill, which closed in 1970, burned down in 1977. It now includes a two-story company store and about 20 wood-frame textile workers' homes.

The historic places nomination form says "the abandoned site took on the appearance of a ghost town" in the two decades after the mill burned, with 14 houses lost to decay and the boarding house demolished.

Despite the decay, the mill village "is a distinguished collection of unaltered mill housing in a planned rural village associated with North Carolina's important textile industry in the early twentieth century," the form says.

Reyes and his family were looking for property where they could build homes for their extended family when they found the mill village. The front door of the brick building that once was the company store and served as Mellark Bakery in the movie was screwed shut with a piece of plywood, and the inside looked like an episode of "Hoarders," Reyes said.

Still, the three of them were charmed. They toured the property one afternoon and had it under contract the next day, paying $360,000 — a bargain considering the previous owner once was asking $1.4 million. That owner, Wade Shepherd, died in 2015, two years before the village sold.

"We knew from the beginning that we wanted to save these houses," Reyes said. "We're not preservationists or developers. But it spoke to us, and it was something we wanted to do."

Shepherd, had complained about visitors and vandals even before "The Hunger Games" opened. Now the property is protected by cameras, lights and tours that take place five days a week. In addition, a "Hunger Games" tour group brings visitors on weekends. Since some people believe the property is haunted, paranormal tours also are available.

The National Park Service manages the historic places register, which doesn't limit what an owner can do with their property. However, the designation may make property owners eligible for preservation funds and federal historic tax credits.

Author Suzanne Collins announced earlier this week that she's  releasing a prequel to her trilogy  about a post-apocalyptic world. It's set for release next year. That can only fuel interest in all things about Panem.

Reyes and the Namours plan to eventually restore the property, starting with a museum and gift shop, then maybe a house or two renovated for overnight stays. They hope to open a restaurant as well. They've set up the Henry River Preservation Fund that takes the money from the tours, which cost $15 with a guide and $10 unguided.

"We're making sure that ... this place (visitors) think of District 12, they know is a place where multiple generations grew up," Reyes said. "A lot of people in North Carolina can trace their lineage to these mill villages that were all over the state.

"To me, the South is this, the story and the culture and where they came from. It's a great story."

hunger games tour north carolina

Explore North Fork Valley, learn about the Asheville Watershed and 'Hunger Games' sites

On a balmy March day in 1903, the North Fork Reservoir’s freshly-appointed warden, Will Burnett, turned a brand-new cast iron valve to emit the first trickle of drinking water for Asheville, located over 20 miles away. This water — some of the purest in America — would soon flood the school, church, graveyard and homesteads built by Burnett's family and neighbors over the last centuries.

Will Burnett and his brother Bart, sons of Confederate veteran Marcus Lafayette "Fate" Burnett, were selected as the first wardens to patrol the newly established municipal watershed, after the city of Asheville purchased roughly 5,000 acres in the North Fork Valley.

As wardens for four decades, the Burnett brothers guarded the land their great-grandfather Frederick Burnett helped settle in the 1790s from trespassers, including other fellow North Fork Valley natives and members of their own family. 

Much of the history of the North Fork Valley was lost when the residents were forced out by eminent domain and the city of Asheville flooded the valley.

The Swannanoa Valley Museum aims to preserve the history of the North Fork Valley community and with special permission from the Conservation Trust of North Carolina will lead an exclusive tour through the city of Asheville watershed March 28.

This driving tour will highlight several historic sites on the watershed's east side and allow participants to walk amid the ruins of the formerly thriving settlement. Much like Cades Cove, one of the most popular attractions in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the archaeological remains of the isolated North Fork Valley offer clues about daily life in a 19th and early 20th century close-knit Appalachian community. Historic interpreters and descendants of the community's earliest settlers will share stories about the North Fork Valley.

Today, the public-use restricted watershed encompasses 22,000 acres. The museum's March 28 tour will focus on the history of the east side of the reservoir. Then, on Nov. 7, an additional tour will focus on the west side of the reservoir.

The March tour will begin with a stop at the moss-covered massive stone walls of Sunnalee Lodge, the historic home of William Henry "Champ" Burnett. A cousin of the first wardens, Champ was a sawmill operator, schoolmaster of the one-room schoolhouse that stood at the confluence of Sugar Fork and North Fork, justice of the peace, and served as Sunday school superintendent for nearly 50 years.

Champ was short in stature and wiry, with fiery red hair and a full red mustache. While soaking wet he might have weighed 150 pounds, he was all dynamite and earned his nickname by fighting — not in the boxing ring, but by wrangling bears. Champ built his sprawling lodge in the 1880s in the upper east end of the present-day watershed, situated in the lower Chestnut Cove. The lodge was a well-known community gathering place and in the summers hosted boarders — including several nationally known writers and artists. The home was condemned by the city of Asheville for the watershed in 1927.

The tour will include a stop at Col. John Connally’s homesite that has extensive ruins including two standing chimneys. The caravan will also make a stop to include a short walk from the vehicles to the homesites of Will and Bart Burnett and a slave cemetery dating from about the 1840s-1860s. Guides will also discuss the watershed’s unique use as a filming location for the iconic "Hunger Games" series, the 21st-highest-grossing film franchise of all time.

Advanced registration is required, and space is limited to 35 participants. The cost is $50 for museum members and $75 for nonmembers.

This event is of moderate difficulty. There will be some walking on rough terrain. Participants should wear sturdy shoes, dress for the weather and bring their own lunch. The museum will provide transportation, but participants who wish to drive their own vehicles can inquire about the possibility by contacting the museum.

To register, visit the museum's website at https://www.history.swannanoavalleymuseum.org/events/, email [email protected], or call 828-669-9566.

Event: North Fork Valley Tour of the Asheville Watershed – East Side: Appalachian History, the North Fork Community, and the Hunger Games

When: 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. March 28

Difficulty: Moderate; though primarily a driving tour there is some walking on rough terrain.

Price: $50 members/$75 nonmembers

Register: Register online at www.swannanoavalleymuseum.org/events, email [email protected], or call 828-669-9566

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On Set Cinema- The Hunger Games

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ON SET CINEMA - THE HUNGER GAMES Saturday, May 8, 2021 Hickory, North Carolina • District 12 (aka Henry River Mill Village)

Welcome, Welcome! Welcome everyone to the 74th Annual Hunger Games! ON SET CINEMA returns to historic Henry River Mill Village (aka District 12) in Hickory, North Carolina for a very special screening of “The Hunger Games”! Fans will get a guided tour through what was District 12 in the movie - you’ll be able to see where Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) hung out, go inside Katniss’ house where so many great scenes took place, see Peeta Mellark's (Josh Hutcherson) bakery and more! Fans will also get to check out an incredible private collection display of official “Hunger Games” movie props and costumes thanks to “Hunger Games” fan Bryan Beyal. There will also be a food truck, special event merch and once again fans will have the opportunity to camp out overnight on the property! ...but don't get too excited, because every courageous young man and woman who attend this event will be entered into The Reaping. We will end the night with a glorious outdoor screening of “The Hunger Games”! Remember tributes, there can only be one winner - may the odds be ever in your favor…

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Let the Games Begin: Visit These ‘Hunger Games’ Filming Locations

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By Keira Ezzo

The young adult dystopian movie franchise The Hunger Games is coming back to theaters for a two-day exclusive event. The movie, based on the book by Suzanne Collins, was originally released in 2012 and was a phenomenon for young adult readers and moviegoers alike. This Hunger Games renaissance is coming just a few weeks before the movie adaptation of Collin’s prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set to hit theaters. Here are some filming locations that you can visit to get hyped for this special event.

Spoilers ahead, but these movies are over 10 years old.

The Hunger Games Filmed in Western North Carolina

The first movie in the soon-to-be five-part series was filmed entirely in North Carolina in and around the Asheville area. In the first book, Katniss says that she lives in an area that was once known as Appalachia, so filming in these wooded areas and old, abandoned towns made for an excellent backdrop, especially for the brief period of time that she is home in District 12.

Henry River Mill Village – District 12

visit-these-hunger-games-filming-locations

Located halfway between Charlotte and Asheville, this historic town was the backdrop for Katniss and Peeta’s home in District 12 . Visiting the area allows you to step back in time to see what a traditional textile mill looked like in the Carolinas . . . or it allows you to take a step into the dystopian future. The town was originally built in 1905, and in 2019, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

To get to Henry River Mill Village, take Exit 119 on I-40. There are walking tours and overnight accommodations available.

Pisgah National Forest – 74th Hunger Games Arena

visit-these-hunger-games-filming-locations

Parts of Pisgah National Forest were used as the backdrop for the arena at the 74th Annual Hunger Games featured in the first film, as well as the early scene where Katniss and Gale go hunting before the Reaping. Filming specifically took place in the Big Ivy Area of the forest. The scene where Katniss finds Peeta hiding amongst the rocks was filmed here. Unfortunately, the cave they hid in was created on a soundstage .

Catching Fire Filmed in Georgia, Hawaii, and . . . New Jersey?

Whereas the first movie was filmed in just one state, the second film in the series, Catching Fire, was filmed across the United States. Surprisingly, they did not return to any of the locations in North Carolina but rather opted for another Appalachian state for District 12 and much of the Capitol. And when they needed snow, they headed north to the Garden State.  

Atlanta, Georgia – Victory Tour and Pre-Show

visit-these-hunger-games-filming-locations

Atlanta was used to film much of the time the victors  spent in the Capitol. The Atlanta Marriott Marquis is where they filmed that elevator scene between Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, and Joanna. The Victory Banquet at President Snow’s home was actually filmed at Swan House at the Atlanta History Center—and it is just as breathtaking in real life as it is in the movie. You can even walk around in the Mansion Gardens , which are kept in immaculate condition.

Ramapo Mountain State Forest – Snowy District 12

visit-these-hunger-games-filming-locations

Though the Appalachian Mountains do not cross into New Jersey, there are a variety of beautiful locations that receive a decent amount of snow during the winter months. The opening scenes of Catching Fire were filmed in Ramapo Mountain State Park , which is near the New York-New Jersey border in Bergen County. Filmmakers also used shots of the New York City skyline for the Capitol.

Oahu’s North Shore – The Quarter Quell Arena

visit-these-hunger-games-filming-locations

The 75th Annual Hunger Games Arena is vastly different from the one Katniss and Peeta see the year before. Rather than being in the middle of the woods—an area that Katniss is very comfortable in—they are sent to a tropical climate. For the clock-inspired arena, the crew needed access to the ocean and jungles. Much of the arena scenes were filmed at the Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu.

Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2 Filmed in Paris and Berlin

When the third film, Mockingjay, begins, Katniss has been saved from the Arena and is in hiding in District 13, which has been built up after being bombed, although much of it is underground. Many of the scenes in District 13 were filmed on a soundstage, but many other shots of the Capitol—as well as many other districts—were filmed throughout several old cities in Europe.

Berlin – Districts 2 and 8

visit-these-hunger-games-filming-locations

Berlin Tempelhof Airport and Rudersdorf were used as the backdrops of District 2 and District 8 in Mockingjay Part 2 . Berlin Tempelhof Airport and the park were designed to look like the area had been bombed and served as the background for battle scenes. Rudersdorf is located just outside of Berlin and has a variety of abandoned buildings that the crew filmed in and used as factories for aircraft in District 8.

Château de Voisins – President Snow’s Home

visit-these-hunger-games-filming-locations

Though the exterior of President Snow’s home is located in Georgia, the interior scenes were filmed at the Chateau de Voisins in Saint-Hilarion, just outside of Paris, France. The stately château served as the perfect backdrop for the chilling scenes filmed there between President Snow and Katniss.

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Watch ‘The Hunger Games’ in District 12 under the stars this weekend in Hickory

Imagine flying the Millennium Falcon or sauntering through the hallowed halls of Hogwarts. North Carolina-based On Set Cinema tries to come close to recreating that kind of experience for movie fans by hosting screenings at the locations where films were shot.

On Saturday, On Set Cinema will celebrate 10 years of “The Hunger Games” franchise with a screening, tour and campout at Henry River Mill Village in Hickory, which served as District 12 in the film.

“It really is like you’re walking into District 12,” said Kenny Caperton, the founder of On Set Cinema. “As it stands right now, Katniss’ home from the movie looks just like it did in the film.”

The March 2012 release of “The Hunger Games” marked a peak in the Charlotte area’s brush with Hollywood. Tax incentives had kicked up productions on big budget film and television projects statewide — the biggest of which was the Jennifer Lawrence-led franchise.

Locations for the first film dotted the landscape from the DuPont Recreational Forest near Brevard to the former Philip Morris plant in Concord (with another memorable scene shot at the Charlotte Convention Center ).

Turning Henry River Mill Village into a poor, rundown community frozen in time, wasn’t a stretch. The nearly 100-year-old abandoned mill town was practically move-in ready.

“That’s what I love about ‘The Hunger Game’ events is that we’re doing it at a truly historic venue,” Caperton said. “That’s the reason why they chose the Henry River Mill Village. There’s a ton of history there, and it’s still standing.”

Its small wooden houses that once housed the families of textile mill workers needed little redressing as the shanty homes of Katniss Everdeen (played by Lawrence) and her neighbors. Nowt, a few fans will get to stay overnight inside the cabins from the film, and others will camp on the grounds.

“I always tell people I try to create the full experience. You can stay all night in District 12 in a tent. We have a food truck, my friend Brian has a massive collection of ‘Hunger Games’ memorabilia that grows every year. He brings a U-Haul and displays this incredible collection inside Katniss’ house and they get to check that out, too,” Caperton said.

This marks the third year On Set Cinema has hosted the screening.“The thing with ‘On Set Cinema’ is I’ve been doing it for 25 years just for fun. Now I’m able to travel and hang out with fans and create these incredible, sometimes once in a lifetime, events for fans,”Caperton said. “Sometimes I’m like this is too good to be true. I don’t take it lightly. I’m just going along with this experience.”

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On Set Cinema’s “Hunger Games”

Location: 4255 Henry River Rd, Hickory, North Carolina 28602

Neighborhood: Hickory, 61.5 miles from Charlotte

When: 6 p.m., Saturday, May 28

Tickets: https://myershousenc.thundertix.com/events/195402

$30 for general admission, which includes a guided tour of Henry River Mill Village and movie screening

$50 per person for overnight tent camping, which includes the guided tour of Henry River Mill Village and movie screening. Checkout is at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

Cabin tickets are sold out.

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North Carolina's Redemption Tour Drama Builds After Rout of Michigan State

North Carolina's RJ Davis

For the North Carolina Tar Heels and first-time head coach Hubert Davis, 2022 was the best of times and 2023 was the worst of times.

Davis' first year at the helm was rocky for the first few months but legendary in the end.

Just to get into the NCAA tournament, the Tar Heels were told they probably needed to ruin Mike Krzyzewski's retirement party, which they happily did by double digits. Then, after surprisingly making the Final Four as a No. 8 seed, they got to double down on that eternal bragging right by ending Coach K's career in an unforgettable game in New Orleans.

They couldn't quite seal the deal with a title, but you couldn't ask for much more from a first-year head coach. And with just about everyone except for Brady Manek returning for another season, the Heels were naturally No. 1 in the 2022-23 preseason polls and the favorite to win it all.

To put it lightly, though, they didn't.

Rather, they had one of the most disappointing campaigns of all time, missing the dance altogether in spite of that No. 1 spot in the preseason AP Top 25. That had never been done before in the 64-plus-team era of the NCAA tournament, which dates back to 1985.

North Carolina's Redemption Tour Drama Builds After Rout of Michigan State

It was an embarrassment right up there with Kentucky's "Robert Morris Year"—except for the part where North Carolina declined to even play in the NIT, at least in part because it grew increasingly evident throughout the season that RJ Davis and Caleb Love couldn't stand playing together for another minute.

Just like that, the entire college basketball community forgot about UNC's incredible 2022 run and began to question whether Davis was the right man for the job, fearing this might be a repeat of the Matt Doherty situation from the early 2000s, when he did a fine job of not immediately crashing the Ferrari he inherited from an all-time great coach but couldn't build a winner on his own.

Hubert Davis

Had the Tar Heels struggled this season, they legitimately might have been right there with Louisville, Michigan, Ohio State—Kentucky?—and others looking for a new coach this offseason.

Struggle, they did not, though, winning an outright ACC regular-season title for the first time since 2017 and securing a No. 1 seed in the dance for the 18th time in program history.

They swept Duke, too, which is always a crowd-pleaser in Chapel Hill. You could go 2-29 for the season, but if those two wins come against Duke, fans would still offer to buy you a round at one of the many drinkeries on Franklin Street.

Nevertheless, legacies are built in March, and actually doing something with this No. 1 seed was how Davis and the Tar Heels could put an exclamation mark on this redemption tour.

They made light work of Wagner in the first round, blowing out the Seahawks by 28 to set up an uncommonly high-profile second-round showdown with Mr. March Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans—who earned a No. 9 seed despite doing just about all they could to replicate UNC's disastrous collapse from last year.

Early on, things were not looking great for the Heels. Whistles were definitively not going in favor of the hometown favorite in Charlotte, no one in Carolina Blue could seem to buy a bucket and Michigan State couldn't miss in racing out to a 26-14 lead after just 10 minutes.

What's a redemption tour without a little adversity, though?

After that rough start, they caught fire, riding their Big Three of RJ Davis, Harrison Ingram and Armando Bacot during a 17-0 run from which Sparty never quite recovered.

Michigan State did keep it tight until midway through the second half, but getting next to nothing out of its trio of centers (and even less from AJ Hoggard) was just too much to overcome. The Big Three scored 55 in UNC's 85-69 victory to reach the Sweet 16.

Now, it's off to Los Angeles, where we could be just a pair of Thursday games away from the most anticipated game in the history of the transfer portal era.

RJ Davis and Caleb Love

When you look too far ahead in the bracket for juicy matchups, this tournament will break your heart 99 times out of 100.

But the "Caleb Love Bowl" against Arizona is so close you'll be able to cut the tension with a knife during those Sweet 16 games in the venue formerly known as Staples Center.

Surely there have been plenty of "player going up against his former team" games in the NCAA tournament in recent years. At the very least, Bryce Hopkins leading Providence against Kentucky in a first-round game last year springs to mind.

Nothing quite like this, though, where a player who was so instrumental in a run to a national championship skips town after a turbulent season only to become the leading scorer of a different title contender in advance of a possible Elite Eight matchup.

This has to be the closest college hoops will ever get to the whole "Kevin Durant leaves OKC to win two rings with Golden State" saga, and we might be talking about a whole different redemption tour if it's Love carrying Arizona to victory over North Carolina next weekend.

You know the Tar Heels wouldn't have it any other way, though.

We'll have to wait until the second round is finished on Sunday to find out the chronological order of Thursday's games in Los Angeles. But if UNC gets the first game and wins, it's going to stick around, internally rooting for Arizona so the Heels can be the ones to vanquish Love, showing the world how much better off they are without him.

Love and RJ Davis said they called and congratulated each other for each being named conference Player of the Year, and that there's no ill will between them. If the matchup comes together, they'll talk like it's no big deal; like it's just another game standing between them and the Final Four.

However, in the words of Marquette's Tyler Kolek when Shaka Smart said he didn't really care about facing Texas earlier this season: bulls--t .

It would be massive. Historic, even. Something of a mini boss before the final boss that is the national championship.

But it would only be fitting if North Carolina's redemption tour includes a win over its former star guard.

Kerry Miller covers men's college basketball and Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter/X: @KerranceJames .

IMAGES

  1. Go Behind the Scenes of ‘The Hunger Games’ in North Carolina

    hunger games tour north carolina

  2. Go Behind the Scenes of ‘The Hunger Games’ in North Carolina

    hunger games tour north carolina

  3. Visit the North Carolina Locations Where 'The Hunger Games' Was Filmed

    hunger games tour north carolina

  4. Where Was Hunger Games Filmed? Is North Carolina the Real Filming Location?

    hunger games tour north carolina

  5. Visit the North Carolina Locations Where 'The Hunger Games' Was Filmed

    hunger games tour north carolina

  6. Many scenes from The Hunger Games filmed on rocks along Triple Falls

    hunger games tour north carolina

COMMENTS

  1. Hunger Games Itineraries

    Experience the Hunger Games: Day Trip Itineraries Go behind the scenes and explore the beautiful mountain locations filmed for The Hunger Games. Follow in the footsteps of your favorite tributes with these day trip itineraries, then retire to Asheville just like the stars did. Hunger Games Interactive Map Use the map* below to plan your Hunger Games getaway, or stop by the Asheville Visitors ...

  2. Go Behind the Scenes of 'The Hunger Games' in North Carolina

    Day 3: Shelby & Charlotte. Go behind the scenes in Shelby. About 80 miles east of Brevard, the unassuming town of Shelby might boast the world's highest concentration of Hunger Games readers. The Reaping and Hob scenes were filmed in private warehouse space near the heart of town, which inspired the local library to use the book for its ...

  3. Henry River Mill Village, North Carolina

    HOURS OF OPERATION. SATURDAY 10AM - 5PM SUNDAY 10AM - 5PM SPECIAL HOURS WE WILL BE OPEN FROM 10AM - 3PM ON JANUARY 15, 2024 Adult General Admission: $18 + TAX Ages 0-17: Free with Adult Ticket Purchase For RV/Motor-coach/School Bus parking, please call ahead of your visit and we are happy to accommodate.

  4. The Film Spot For The Hunger Games: Henry River Mill Village NC

    Until "Hunger Games" put District 12 on the cinema map, this little abandoned town, albeit creepy town, was only known to the locals, and the scores of families that moved out of the tiny mill village. But now, "Hunger Games" fans from all over the world head to the famous empty town to take the Hunger Games Unofficial Fans Tour.

  5. Visit the North Carolina Locations Where 'The Hunger Games' Was Filmed

    STOP 7: Henry River Mill Village, or "District 12". A ticket on the "Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours" gets you access to this abandoned cotton mill village, including the exact site ...

  6. Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours

    Fan Tours of filming locations used in the hit film The Hunger Games ™. Tours take place in DuPont State Recreational Forest (The Arena scenes) near Brevard, NC or in District 12 near Hildebran, NC (Henry River Mill Village). Activities for the DuPont tours include: tour filming locations, hiking, camouflage, Hunger Games™ trivia, waterfalls, Hunger Games™ themed lunch bags, archery and ...

  7. Henry River Village Ghost Town, Hunger Games Film Location

    A ghost town near Asheville is coming back to life. The Henry River mill village has been abandoned since the 1970s. It came back to life briefly for the filming of the blockbuster movie The Hunger Games in 2011, serving as Katniss' home of District 12. Located about an hour east of Asheville along I-40 (near Morganton ), the village is open ...

  8. Hunger Games Filming Locations Tour

    Join movie fans for the ultimate Hunger Games Filming Locations Tour as featured on The Today Show, ABC, Hollywood Treasures, the NY Times, and USA Today. ... Cedar Mountain, North Carolina 28718 United States Phone 828-883-3244 View Venue Website

  9. Immerse Yourself In The Hunger Games Films At This East Coast Forest

    Beyond the mountains and forest, there are more charming filming locations scattered around North Carolina. In Hildebran, for example, fans will recognize the abandoned Henry River Mill Village that became the set for District 12, including the bakery where Peeta throws Katniss a piece of bread in a pre-games flashback.

  10. See Where "The Hunger Games" Was Filmed in N.C.

    Hunger Games fanatics can take travel cues from the sites that frame the action, the stars' favorite off-duty spots and attractions that District 12 denizens would love. From the big-city sites in Charlotte that doubled as the "Capitol" to taking a survival class at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, North Carolina offers the ultimate Hunger ...

  11. Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours

    North Carolina (NC) Hickory. Things to Do in Hickory. Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours - Day Tours. ... If you are in the area of Asheville and are a fan of The Hunger Games, you MUST do this tour. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and will give you information about the movie, the actors on the set, the owner of District 12 (Mr. Wade ...

  12. Hunger Games

    The curtain went up on Asheville with the premier of the highly anticipated film, The Hunger Games, which opened in spring 2012.Shot on location in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, the movie showcases both the area's natural beauty and—through the lives of the young stars on set—the wealth of exciting things to see & do around town. ...

  13. Abandoned Henry River Mill Village

    Discover Abandoned Henry River Mill Village in Hildebran, North Carolina: An abandoned village that doubled as "The Hunger Games"' post-apocalyptic wasteland is up for grabs.

  14. Take a Tour of 'the Hunger Games' Film Set

    North Carolina hears you. N.C.'s Division of Tourism came up with a four-day self-guided tour for diehard "Hunger Games" fans guiding people from the Hunger Games' Capitol to Asheville and back again.

  15. Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours

    North Carolina Mountains. Brevard. Things to Do in Brevard. Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours. See all things to do. ... Leigh Trapp, owner, Hunger Games Fan Tours. Read more. Written June 22, 2022. This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC. lesliek946. Sautee Nacoochee, GA 23 ...

  16. District 12

    After the first of four Hunger Games movies premiered in March 2012, fans from all over the world began flocking to western North Carolina in search of the village that doubled as District 12. In October 2017, Calvin Reyes and his family purchased the property and formed the Henry River Preservation Fund. They plan to renovate, restore, or ...

  17. Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours

    Hunger Games Unofficial Fan Tours, Brevard, North Carolina. 5,571 likes. See where it all began! Make your plans now for a N.C. Hunger Games™ Fan Tour Adventure! To purchase, visit...

  18. Henry River Mill Village

    When "The Hunger Games" was filmed in North Carolina in 2011, the mill village served as the home of Katniss, Peeta and Gale. ... Now the property is protected by cameras, lights and tours that take place five days a week. In addition, a "Hunger Games" tour group brings visitors on weekends. Since some people believe the property is haunted ...

  19. Explore North Fork Valley, Asheville Watershed, 'Hunger Games' sites

    If you go. Event: North Fork Valley Tour of the Asheville Watershed - East Side: Appalachian History, the North Fork Community, and the Hunger Games. When: 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. March 28. Difficulty: Moderate; though primarily a driving tour there is some walking on rough terrain. Price: $50 members/$75 nonmembers.

  20. On Set Cinema- The Hunger Games

    Address. 4255 Henry River Rd, Hickory, NC, 28602. ON SET CINEMA - THE HUNGER GAMES. Saturday, May 8, 2021. Hickory, North Carolina • District 12 (aka Henry River Mill Village) Welcome, Welcome! Welcome everyone to the 74th Annual Hunger Games! ON SET CINEMA returns to historic Henry River Mill Village (aka District 12) in Hickory, North ...

  21. Henry River Mill Village: Iconic Hunger Games Film Location

    Henry River Mill Village sits just outside of Hildebran, very close to Hickory, but on the Burke County side of the line shared with Catawba County. If you're a fan of the Hunger Games movies, you might recognize this place as District 12 from the first one.. This place and other locations are included in our guide to movies filmed in North Carolina. ...

  22. Let the Games Begin: Visit These 'Hunger Games' Filming Locations

    The Hunger Games Filmed in Western North Carolina. The first movie in the soon-to-be five-part series was filmed entirely in North Carolina in and around the Asheville area. In the first book, Katniss says that she lives in an area that was once known as Appalachia, so filming in these wooded areas and old, abandoned towns made for an excellent ...

  23. Experience the Hunger Games with On Set Cinema in Hickory NC

    On Set Cinema's "Hunger Games". Location: 4255 Henry River Rd, Hickory, North Carolina 28602. Neighborhood: Hickory, 61.5 miles from Charlotte. When: 6 p.m., Saturday, May 28. Tickets: https ...

  24. North Carolina's Redemption Tour Drama Builds After Rout of Michigan

    For the North Carolina Tar Heels and first-time head coach Hubert Davis, 2022 was the best of times and 2023 was the worst of times. Davis' first year at the helm was rocky for the first few ...