Causeway for celebration as tourist gem is named best heritage attraction
The Giant's Causeway has just won a gigantic accolade - it has been named the UK's Best Heritage Attraction.
The National Trust attraction on Northern Ireland's north coast won the backing of voters in the UK's biggest consumer poll, the British Travel Awards.
It's the first time a local attraction has won.
The Giant's Causeway, comprised of thousands of interlocking basalt columns, is our first World Heritage Site as well as our most visited tourist attraction.
The world-famous landmark scooped gold at the gala awards ceremony held in London on Wednesday attended by close to 1,000 travel industry people.
The National Trust says its Giant's Causeway team regularly welcomes thousands of visitors daily.
Esther Dobbin, commercial and visitor operations manager, said: "Our team have worked so hard to deliver exceptional customer service.
"This is the first time it has been won by an attraction in Northern Ireland.
"The awards are voted for by visitors, which makes them all the more special.
"We are really passionate about what we do and I'm so proud of our entire team.
"This is great for the National Trust and for Northern Ireland."
It is the second year that the Giant's Causeway has been nominated in the awards, having won bronze last year.
It is also the first win for the National Trust in this category.
The Giant's Causeway beat off competition from the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall, Sterling Castle and last year's winner, Edinburgh Castle.
The chief executive of British Travel Awards, Lorraine Barnes Burton, said: "More than a quarter-of-a-million consumers voted this year to determine the winners of the 2015 British Travel Awards."
She added: "It's the largest awards programme in the UK and to win is a clear statement that companies are providing excellence in travel to the discerning consumer.
"The travelling public regard the British Travel Awards winners logo as the benchmark for excellence when it comes to finding out who are the best travel companies, and National Trust Giant's Causeway is to be congratulated on their achievement."
The famous World Heritage Site and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is home to a wealth of local history and legend and consists of basalt stone columns left by volcanic activity around 60 million years ago.
Work was completed on restoring the headland and building new visitor facilities in summer 2012 at a total project cost of £18.5m.
Since its opening, the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre has been applauded for its brave and innovative design.
The building was nominated for the prestigious Stirling Prize and has been awarded the Skal and BREEM Awards, both of which recognise success in sustainability in design.