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Muncaster Castle in the Western Lake District is celebrating after reaching the finals in the prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2012.
The popular Lake District attraction, which is getting ready for a busy Easter period, has been short-listed for the Best Large Visitor Attraction. VisitEngland (the English Tourist Board) received a record-breaking 392 applications for this year’s Awards.
Peter Frost Pennington from Muncaster said: " We’re all delighted at Muncaster to have made it through to the finals of the VisitEngland Awards. This really is the big one, especially as we are in the ‘Large Visitor Attraction of the Year’ category.
"The staff here are just brilliant, and it is mainly their excellent team work that has got us to the top amongst a very competitive field.”
Muncaster's entry for the awards highlighted some of the features that have made it such a successful attraction. As well as the Castle itself, Muncaster is home to the World Owl Centre and spectacular gardens which are just coming into full bloom.
Muncaster regularly attracts national and international TV coverage. Helen Skelton recently spent a night in the Castle's haunted tapestry room for Blue Peter and next month Sky Atlantic are due to broadcast a programme filmed at Muncaster.
Peter Frost Pennington says: "I think that as well as the Castle, gardens and owls, what marks Muncaster out is the fact that family members are so involved in running the attraction and meeting the public, as well as the events we put on which attract thousands of people every year. We're also very lucky to have a stunning setting with views up towards England's highest mountain."
At the weekend the Castle, which was home to the original Tom Fool, celebrated April Fool's Day.
During the Feast of Flowers from 5-7 May there will be floral displays in the Castle, free garden tours and chefs giving 'Cooking with Flowers' demonstrations.
The Muncaster Jubilee Festival from 3-7 June this year includes the International Jester Tournament which has been featured on Blue Peter and Countryfile.
Muncaster Castle also won the award for the Best Small Visitor Attraction in the 2003 England awards and has been a regular winner of Cumbrian awards since 1997.
The results of this year's VisitEngland Awards for Excellence will be announced at a glittering ceremony on 22 May 2012 in Leicester.
All finalists are guaranteed to receive either a Gold, Silver, Bronze or Highly Commended Award.
Commenting on the finalists James Berresford, VisitEngland’s Chief Executive said “I would like to congratulate all those nominated as VisitEngland Awards for Excellence finalists this year. This is no small achievement in a year when we have received a record number of submissions.
"The quality of submissions this year has been outstanding and Muncaster can justifiably take credit and pride in earning a place at the top of their category in England. I wish everyone all the best for the final in May
Picture shows Pete Frost Pennington being pelted with eggs and flour at the April Fool's event