Gosford Forest Park, which attracts over half a million visitors a year and is one of NI’s most popular destinations for outdoor recreation, has scooped two awards – ‘Forest Park of the Year’ and ‘Children’s Activity of the Year’ – at the Holiday at Home Staycation Awards NI 2022.
These inaugural awards are all about honouring and recognising those who make holidaying at home great.
The crème de la crème of NI’s hospitality and tourism industry joined host Pamela Ballantine at the Crowne Plaza, Belfast on Saturday, October 22to celebrate the best-in-class of food, accommodation, leisure and entertainment providers – all of whom were nominated and voted by the public.
Over 30 categories were up for grabs encompassing an array of businesses: pubs; restaurants; B&Bs; hotels, coffee shops; static and touring caravan sites; glamping sites; and food takeaway to name but a few.
Accepting both awards on behalf of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Deputy Lord Mayor Councillor Tim McClelland said: “I’m delighted to pick up two awards here tonight. Gosford Forest Park is now rightfully recognised by the public as the jewel in the crown of forest parks in NI offering the best adventure and inclusive play facilities for children. Thanks to everyone who voted and to the council staff who do a superb job managing and maintaining it all year round.
“Since the council took over the recreation management of this stunning 240-acre diverse woodland and open parkland in 2019, we have led on implementing a £5m multi-phase development plan.
“Now, three years on, a swathe of improvements have transformed Gosford Forest Park into a five-star adventure-packed visitor destination where people of all ages and abilities can enjoy an unrivalled range of outdoor pursuits.”
It now boasts 16km of walking, horse riding, mountain bike and pump track trails, a first-of-its-kind giant-sized outdoor adventure children’s play area made up of five iconic super structures linked by a 3km woodland trail, accessible glamping eco-pods, ample parking spaces, a deer park, children’s play park and a caravan and camping park.
The hugely successful All Out Trekking project, delivered in partnership with Disability Sport NI, has provided opportunities for people with disabilities or restricted mobility to access the forest’s walking and mountain biking trails using four-wheeled, battery powered buggies.
The council plans to further enhance the visitor experience at Gosford Forest Park and support the long-term sustainability and growth of rural tourism in the borough.