The announcement was made on Game of Thrones' official Facebook page Thursday afternoon with an interactive video that had fans type "FIRE" in the comments to activate a torch that shot a flame at a block of ice until it melted, revealing the premiere date on a plaque inside. At first, the stream ended after about 15 minutes without revealing the date, leaving fans frustrated and speculating that the ice was taking longer to melt than expected. It came back after about 10 minutes, and even HBO's official Facebook account was commenting "FIRE" to speed up the ice melting. Stars Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Lena Headey, Gwendoline Christie, Alfie Allen and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau appeared on the stream in pre-taped messages to implore viewers to keep commenting. It went down again after another 20 minutes. It finally came back with as much fire as possible until the ice finally melted enough to reveal the date, more than an hour after the start of the first stream.
After the date was revealed, a teaser played that showed stone representations of Daenerys Targaryen's dragons and the sigils for the houses all tangled together while pertinent Season 6 dialogue played, until a burst of green wildfire caused the whole thing to crumble, revealing the stone formation made by the Children of the Forest. Then the camera zoomed out through a blue White Walker eye.
Game of Thrones usually premieres in the spring, but Season 7 was pushed back so the production could get wintry weather in its shooting locations — Winter Is Here, after all.
Season 7 is the penultimate season of Game of Thrones and will consist of seven episodes. Season 8's length and premiere date are TBA.
Season 7 will move the epic tale of succession in the fantasy kingdom of Westeros closer to its endpoint, with new allegiances formed as old ones fall apart. Isaac Hempstead-Wright, who plays paraplegic psychic Bran Stark, recently said Season 7 will be about "connections."
New cast members include Oscar winner Jim Broadbent, who confirmed he'll be playing an archmaester, and don't include UFC star Conor McGregor. And all the major cast members, like Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey, will be returning, though they might not survive until the end.
Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres Sunday, July 16th at 9/8c on HBO