The 2018 Northern Ireland Best Kept Awards are officially open, as the Northern Ireland Amenity Council and title sponsor George Best Belfast City Airport launched the search for the ‘Best Kept’ places across the country.

The awards seek to identify and highlight Northern Ireland’s best looked-after towns, villages, schools, healthcare facilities, housing areas and individual community achievers.

Now, in its 61st year, the competition has evolved to include 90 awards across six main categories and three separate ceremonies.

Last year’s overall winner was Ahoghill, while Cumran Primary School in Co. Down clinched the top school prize.

Speaking at the launch, Doreen Muskett MBE, President of Northern Ireland Amenity Council, said:

“Launching the Best Kept Awards is always very exciting, but there is even more anticipation in the air this year after such a fantastic  60th anniversary in 2017.

“We are delighted to once again have George Best Belfast City Airport on board as our title sponsor after a wonderful first year of the partnership.

“The Best Kept Awards bring together volunteers full of enthusiasm from across the country, all with the shared goal of encouraging civic pride and improving their local community, schools, healthcare facilities or housing areas.

“The Best Kept sign is a coveted award and, with over 500 entries last year and more expected this year, there are always people keen to make a positive change to their environments.”

Since its inception over six decades ago, over 150,000 volunteers have taken part in the event with more than 10,000 entries received over the past 20 years.

Amongst last year’s winners were Derry/Londonderry (Best City); Banbridge (Large Town); Armagh (Medium Town); Randalstown (Small Town): Ahoghill (Large Village) and Castlecaulfield (Small Village). Ahoghill came out on top as the ‘Best of the Best’, winning the initiative’s overall grand title.

Michelle Hatfield, Director of Human Resources and Corporate Responsibility at Belfast City Airport, said:

“The Best Kept Awards initiative has played a huge role in encouraging volunteering among communities across Northern Ireland. Having worked together last year, it is clear to see the positive impact the awards have on civic pride in towns and villages, schools and local healthcare facilities throughout the country.

“At Belfast City Airport we want to support local communities, as they strive to improve the environment and the lives of local people. We deliver an award-winning Community Commitment Plan which focuses on Community, Education, Environment and People, which makes us a natural partner for the Best Kept Awards.

“We look forward to seeing the hundreds of entries for this year’s competition and to celebrating all of the fantastic efforts made.”

The initiative was the brainchild of President Doreen’s father, the late Professor Arthur Muskett OBE, who initially set out to find Northern Ireland’s Best Kept Village.

Entries to the Best Kept Awards, sponsored by George Best Belfast City Airport, are now open.

For more information on how to enter an awards category, please visit or call the Northern Ireland Amenity Council on 028 9040 3681.