The forests in North Carolina were the backdrop for The Hunger Games

ASHEVILLE, N.C.—Out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America is a fictional world that fans of The Hunger Games know as Panem and that residents of North Carolina know as their home state.

The southern Appalachian mountain range, the thick forests and the modern architecture of North Carolina’s provide all the location needed for the futuristic world that is the setting for The Hunger Games trilogy.

Being the locale for a movie franchise means big business for tourism boards attracting visitors from around the world. The Twilight series has made Forks, Washington an international destination, The Lord of the Rings had Middle Earth, and New Zealand still markets itself as the setting for the trilogy and the Harry Potter movies made the fictional setting of Hogwarts, a.k.a. Scotland, a must-see for fans.

Now North Carolina hopes to capitalize on its starring role as the setting for The Hunger Games.

When the movie was filmed in various locations around the state last year, the phenomenon was still growing but with the movie premiering March 23, the worldwide spotlight is now on North Carolina where the state’s forests, mill towns and stunning architecture provide a backdrop for a movie franchise that could rival the first Twilight’s opening day grosse of $35.7 million (U.S.).

One of the biggest stars in North Carolina is the DuPont State Forest, which is located about an hour’s drive southwest of Asheville. The forest is home to nearly 1,500 kilometres of hiking trails and a three-hour roundtrip hike takes you to three towering and majestic waterfalls.

Here is where the major film scenes of the arena, the isolated landscape where the competition takes place, were shot using the dramatic landscape of waterfalls, pines and poplars, hideaway lakes and fishing streams.

Along the trails, visitors can spot the pond where the heroine Katniss Everdeen found peace from the Hunger Games, a fight to the death between teenagers as part of punishment for a past uprising.

Months after the scenes were shot of the dramatic fireball attacks against the competitors, some of the trees in the DuPont State Forest remain charred.

“The fireball hits a tree off to my left, engulfing it in flames. To remain still is death. I’m barely on my feet before the third ball hits the ground where I was lying, sending a pillar of fire up behind me,” Katniss narrates.

Another major locale from the movie is the Henry River Mill Village in Hildebran, a ghost town with ramshackle wooden homes with hollowed out windows and doors. A mill town in the early part of the 20th century with about three dozen clapboard structures to house the families of the millworkers, the place is now empty after the last tenant left in the mid-1980s.

The remnants of the abandoned community perfectly reflects the bleak District 12, home of Katniss and her friend and hunting partner Gale Hawthorne and fellow Hunger Games competitor Peeta, the baker’s son.

“District 12 was in a region known as Appalachia. Even hundreds of years ago, they mined coal here,” Katniss recalls in a scene. The southern Appalachian region includes the Blue Ridge which reaches its highest peak in North Carolina at just over 2,000 metres high and a towering presence over the pretty town of Asheville where the crew stayed during the filming.

For scenes of the vibrant and powerful Capitol, which is a stark contrast to the downtrodden existence of the District 12, the movie makers shot the locale in North Carolina’s largest city, Charlotte, a thriving modern metropolitan of nearly 750,000 residents.

“There’s a lot of modern architecture in Charlotte, it’s just one of those cities that have grown dramatically in the last few years,” said Suzanne Brown of North Carolina’s division of tourism, film and sports development. “We’re also very fortunate to have beside this very modern city, places like the DuPont National Forest where you can imagine it being an entirely isolated area.”

At the Charlotte Convention Centre, with its arched entrances and glass concourse, it’s easy to imagine this as the setting for the futuristic Capitol described in the book as a place where glistening buildings in a rainbow of hues tower into the air.

From the isolated forests where both sinister motives and young love can flourish to the cities of modern steel and glass, the futuristic dystopian world of The Hunger Games has come to life in North Carolina.


ARRIVING Air Canada flies daily to Asheville, N.C. from Toronto and has several flights departing each day from Toronto to Charlotte, N.C.

SLEEPING The Grove Park Inn nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains has spectacular views of lush mountain vistas and was the place where F. Scott Fitzgerald went to dry out in the 1930s. Rooms are listed starting at $199 a night.

DINING When the crew was staying in Asheville for the filming, one of their favourite spots was Lexington Avenue Brewery ( for local beers and chef William Dissen at the Market Place ( in downtown Asheville has taken farm-to-table within a 100 mile range cuisine to top-notch levels. His mac and cheese with peas and prosciutto is a customer favourite.



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