Belfast's Lyric Theatre has become the first arts venue in Northern Ireland to be rated a five-star experience.
The top class rating was awarded under a Northern Ireland Tourist Board scheme designed to provide quality grading information on visitor attractions.
The five-star accreditation signifies the venue is operating to an ‘outstanding’ level of quality.
As the only full-time producing theatre in Northern Ireland, the Lyric is one of Northern Ireland’s most important cultural assets.
Symbolising the ongoing regeneration of Belfast, it reopened in 2011 following a complete rebuild on its former site on the banks of the River Lagan and subsequently won a string of architectural and design awards.
Almost three times the size of the old theatre, the new building includes the main Danske Bank Stage boasting a 389 seat auditorium. Spacious lobbies and bars overlooking the river, and two beautiful auditoria with a thriving artistic programme, make the theatre an exciting social hub, creative learning space and a significant attraction for visitors to the city.
Kathryn Thomson, NITB Chief Operating Officer said: “Visitor experiences are rigorously assessed across a number of criterion including hospitality and welcome, catering and retail facilities as well as the maintenance and presentation of the attraction. The Lyric has clearly put in an award-winning performance in each of these. I am delighted that this wonderful arts venue and much-valued facility has achieved five stars from NITB.”
Customer Services Manager Ciara McCann said: “We are delighted to have achieved the maximum five stars from the NITB and even more delighted to be the first arts venue to have achieved top class marks.
“Since re-opening the theatre in May 2011 we have strived to achieve excellence in standards of customer service and this award is recognition of all the hard work staff have put in over the past three years and the efforts they continue to make through every day, every production and every Lyric event.”
NITB’s grading scheme for visitor attractions welcomes applications from a broad spectrum of experiences, including castles, museums, tours, gardens and garden centres, art venues, wildlife experiences and historic attractions.
In addition to visitor attractions, NITB quality assurance is available for tourist accommodation, golf clubs, caravan and camping parks, as well as the Purple Flag accreditation for towns and city centres.