The 2017 British Pie Awards (BPAs) will officially open for entries on 16 November.

Entries close on 17 February and are open to anyone who sells pies commercially in the UK, with a special rate for companies with fewer than five pie makers.

For the first time, pie makers will be able to enter by filling out an entry form on the BPA website, where there is also a full list of classes.

The awards, now in their ninth year, will be held on 8 March, 2017, in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, as part of British Pie Week (6-13 March).

The 2016 awards saw 816 pies entered from 132 professional bakers, butchers and chefs, and judged by over 100 top pie aficionados.

Pies must be totally encased in pastry, with a closed top, and must fit into one of the 21 pre-assigned classes. All entries, except the annual themed class (see below), must be commercially available in the UK.

In celebration of the traditional pies associated with different regions across Britain, bakers, butchers and chefs are invited to create a Regional Pie for this year’s annual themed class.

For this category the awards will be welcoming everything from the Forfar Bridie to the Bedfordshire Clanger, as long as it is traditionally associated with a region and follows BPA rules regarding what constitutes a pie.

Although judged to the same standards as other classes, this category is all about the ‘wow factor’, said the organisers, with more freedom to choose fillings, pastry type and presentation, as long as the pie stays true to the traditional regional recipe.

Matthew O’Callaghan, chairman of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association, said: “We’re so looking forward to another awards celebrating the craftsmanship, creativity and innovation of great British pie makers.

“Each year we’re impressed by the increasing number of entries, all of which are of a superb calibre – we can’t wait to taste this year’s offerings.”