After months of waiting, HBO has finally confirmed that Game of Thrones will return for season 7 in the US on 16 July, 2017.

That's a little later than many expected, but at least fans now have a concrete date to count down too.

Sky Atlantic and NOW TV will simulcast every episode weekly at 2am from 17 July, followed by a repeat at 9pm the same day.

Rather than simply announcing the release date, HBO decided to milk the hysteria over the show this year with a Facebook Live video (below) that saw a vast block of ice melt when triggered by viewer comments, eventually revealing the date (though it didn't exactly go to plan).

This theme of ice and fire was echoed in yesterday's first official poster for the season and all points toward a battle between Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons (fire) and the White Walkers (ice).

HBO apparently has more tricks up its chain mail sleeves for the season, with Ser Davos actor Liam Cunningham saying recently: "There’s going to be a launch and something special happening this year for the premiere."

There will only be seven episodes this year as the show focuses on making each of them as high quality and big budget as possible. The later release date than usual is down to more filming needing to take place during winter.

There should be more details (and maybe even a trailer) this week coming out of Game of Thrones' panel at SXSW.

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