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Blue Flag Award

Blue Flag Award 2023 Winner

Flagship award for blue spaces

A world-renowned eco-label trusted by millions around the globe, the Blue Flag programme is operated by the Foundation for Environmental Education and managed locally by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. In order to qualify for this prestigious award, applicants must met a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety-related and access-related criteria. That’s what makes Blue Flag the international standard for sustainable management of blue spaces.

The concept of the Blue Flag was born in France in 1985, when coastal municipalities received the award for complying with sewage treatment and bathing water quality criteria. Since then, it has evolved into a benchmark for raising environmental awareness and increasing good environmental practice amongst tourists, local communities and site operators. What’s more, the Blue Flag is now awarded to marinas and even individual boats.

In 2023, there are 5,036 Blue Flags flying in 51 countries around the world.

Award-winning sites 2024/25

Northern Ireland boasts 16 Blue Flag sites, with nine beaches and nine marinas receiving their flags from Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful in a presentation ceremony in May 2024.

Blue Flag Beaches

Benone Beach, Castlerock Beach, Cranfield Bay, Downhill Beach, Murlough Beach, Portrush East Strand Beach, Portrush West Strand Beach, Tyrella Beach, Whiterocks Beach. 

Blue Flag Marinas

Belfast Harbour, Ballycastle Marina, Ballyronan Marina, Bangor Marina, Coleraine Marina, Portrush Harbour and Marina, Rathlin Marina.  

Select a flag to find out what facilities are available, tide times, safety information and activities. The award season runs from June until September, so please be aware that some facilities may not be available during the winter season.

Apply for an Award

Download a copy of the Blue Flag criteria to learn more about earning the prestigious award.

Blue Flag Beach Award criteria

Blue Flag Marina Award criteria

For further information on the Blue Flag Award, please contact us.

More about Blue Flag Award

The Blue Flag Award applies only during the bathing season, from 01 June until 15 September, but individual operators may decide to fly their flags during a shorter season.

Blue Flag must be renewed annually, and can only be awarded to beaches, marinas and boats that have achieved excellent water quality consistently throughout the previous four bathing seasons. Water quality on all our Blue Flag sites is measured by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs between May and September each year.

When owners/operators of beaches, marinas and boats are awarded the right to display the Blue Flag, it is because they have satisfied FEE that they demonstrated a number of stringent environmental, educational, safety and accessibility criteria. Following receipt of the award, the owners/operators accept full responsibility to ensure continued compliance of these criteria. While FEE may carry out checks of sites from time to time, neither FEE, nor any of its officers, members, or jury members accept any responsibility to any person in the event of any noncompliance.