Co Antrim and Co Londonderry in top ten friendliest counties in the UK

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New ‘Map of Human Warming’ shows Northern Ireland counties are friendlier than anywhere in UK

County Antrim is the third and Country Londonderry is the fifth friendliest county in both Northern Ireland and the whole of the UK, according to new research.

A ‘Map of Human Warming’, created by The Big Lunch, shows that not only is NI “warmer” than Scotland, Wales and all the English regions – but, when warmth is listed by county, the entire top six is dominated by Northern Ireland.

Now in its eighth year, The Big Lunch is an idea from the Eden Project, made possible by the Big Lottery Fund. It aims to get as many people as possible to have lunch with their neighbours in a simple act of community, friendship and fun.

Big Lunches can be in your back garden, your street, or in a large public space. Some are barbecues, some picnics, they can involve a handful of people right up to huge gatherings. All people have to do to get started is sign up for a free pack.

Data from between 2010 and 2015 was used to find which regions across the UK had made the most requests for Big Lunch packs – and this information was used to create a ‘Human Warming Index’ and the Map of Human Warming.

‘Human Warming’ is a term coined by The Big Lunch to describe what happens when people get to know their neighbours, relationships grow and friendships blossom.

The Index revealed:

• Northern Ireland is the hottest region in the UK – and has all the hottest counties too

• County Fermanagh is rated as the hottest UK county – meaning per capita it is the friendliest in the UK, per the Index - with Northern Ireland dominating the top 10 county list, which also includes Cornwall, Cardiff and Dundee

The 10 ‘hottest’ counties according to the latest figures were:

1. County Fermanagh

2. County Armagh

3. County Antrim

4. County Tyrone

5. County Londonderry

6. County Down

7. Cornwall

8. Cardiff

9. Dundee City


Big Lunch participation figures are remarkable - last year there were hundreds of Big Lunches across NI with tens of thousands of people taking part. As many as 240,000 people in Northern Ireland have participated in a Big Lunch since over the last five years.

Grainne McCloskey, from The Big Lunch NI, said: “I’m delighted but not surprised to see us come out on top. We are known the world over for our friendly spirit. The Big Lunch has really taken off here as a simple low cost way to bring local people together and it’s a great stepping stone for encouraging people to join in wider community activity.

“However, warming is measured per capita in this survey, and we want to see more activity across the country so we have £2000 worth of £50 vouchers up for grabs for those willing to host a neighbourhood get together with The Big Lunch this June. Simply register your intentions email me at .Your event can be as big or as small as you want – you just need the vital ingredient of local people.”

The Big Lunch holds its annual get-together for neighbours every June, and used pack registration data to calculate the regional spread of Big Lunches across the UK. There is still time to get your free pack – at – and organise a Big Lunch in your neighbourhood. Most Big Lunches will take place in June but yours can be whenever you want!

The Big Lunch, an idea from the Eden Project made possible by the Big Lottery Fund, used pack registration data to work out how many people had registered to hold a Big Lunch between 2010 and 2015.

The aim of The Big Lunch is to bring neighbours together to help make their communities friendlier and better connected places to live. Post-event research in 2015* showed that 85% of Big Lunch participants said it made them feel better about their neighbourhoods, and that 8 out of 10 people have kept in touch with people they met at Big Lunches in previous years.

Joanne McDowell, NI Director of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “We are delighted to continue our support of The Big Lunch and I am especially happy to see how much people have embraced it here in Northern Ireland. We are looking forward to seeing more people coming together with their neighbours for Big Lunches this summer.”