Hall Hill Farm in Durham is celebrating after being named in the final three for a national tourism award.

The popular tourist attraction, located in County Durham, is the only tourist attraction in the North, to feature on the best Visitor Attraction shortlist for either large or small visitor attractions, in the 2018 VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.

This news for Hall Hill Farm comes on top of 2017 being a record-breaking year for the popular Durham farm after increasing its visitor numbers by 15%. The award-winning Hall Hill Farm, a family-run tourist attraction, which has been providing children and families with an educational and fun day out for over 35 years, recently received the Highly Commended accolade, in the National Farm Attraction of the year awards, and last year’s winner of the Silver Award in the 2017 North East England Tourism Awards for Best Small Visitor Attraction, and Richard Darlington, the shepherd was also named as Durham Tourism Superstar in 2017.

“We are all thrilled to be shortlisted in such prestigious national awards,” said Ann Darlington, tourism development manager at Hall Hill Farm said: “It’s always great to receive national recognition and well as support in our own region. We are a very small team, at the heart of which is a family run business, we are very lucky to have staff, who all work so hard at ensuring our visitors enjoy a great day out.

“We’ve had a challenging start to the season with the weather but we have started lambing and are looking forward to welcoming lots of visitors to see our newborn lambs this Easter.”

Now in its 29th year, the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence is firmly established as representing the highest accolade in English tourism. This year’s competition was intense with up to three finalists selected in each category from hundreds of submissions.

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: “These awards are a celebration of our thriving tourism industry. They highlight the people and the organisations that deliver amazing experiences for visitors, raising the profile of England as a world-class destination.

“The finalists have shown themselves to be of the highest calibre, using their talent and innovation to deliver excellence. The hundreds of applications this year reflect the quality products across our tourism landscape and I warmly congratulate all the finalists and wish them the very best of luck.”

Latest VisitEngland statistics show that from January to November 2017 Brits took more than 44 million holidays in England, spending in excess of £10 billion on staycations, up five and six percent respectively compared to the same period in 2016. Tourism in England contributes £106 billion to the British economy.

As well as the entry form judging is also based on the attractions website, social media and online customer reviews. All finalists will be invited to the awards ceremony on 23 April 2018 at the Bath Assembly Rooms, where they will discover if they are Bronze, Silver or Gold award winners.

Michelle Gorman, Managing Director at Visit County Durham said: “We’re thrilled that Hall Hill Farm has been recognised as a visitor attraction of excellence by VisitEngland. The farm and its staff work extremely hard to go above and beyond for visitors to the county and none more so than our very own Durham Tourism Superstar finalist and shepherd, Richard Darlington. We wish Hall Hill Farm every success in these awards, recognising and celebrating excellence in tourism”.

Set in the beautiful rolling hills of Durham, Hall Hill Farm is an award-winning mixed farm of 290 hectares. The multi-award winning farm provides a great day out for children and schools with loads of great things to do and see.

The farm is currently open weekends and will open daily from Thursday 29 March until the autumn. It will mark the start of Easter with a live lambing event.

For more information: www.hallhillfarm.co.uk